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Is it possible for a non-professional to do this? If so, how?


claydees

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Hi gurus,

New here and just wanted to know whether it is possible for a non-professional using PS or Gimp to create a picture like the one below from a picture that was shot in similar pose but in a bathroom with white walls? More than that...how do you get that weird effect where you can see a faded blurry shadow/double of the subject as this picture depicts coming off the right of the subject? Thanks!
4e5d5cb1cdd6297a10728edfa53f6288.500x500x1.png
 
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IamSam

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claydees said:
New here and just wanted to know whether it is possible for a non-professional using PS or Gimp to create a picture like the one below from a picture that was shot in similar pose but in a bathroom with white walls?
Well, Photoshop is a wonderful program capable of accomplishing almost anything. Your sample image above was created mostly in studio and camera and very little PP (post processing) was done using Photoshop.

In an image such as you have described (in a bathroom), I seriously doubt you could make it look like the one above. However, having said that, I would have to see the image before I could say for sure. I want to add, that in order to accomplish a dramatic lighting effect on a normally or brighter lit photo with Photoshop, you would have to be a very advanced user with tons of experience.


claydees said:
More than that...how do you get that weird effect where you can see a faded blurry shadow/double of the subject as this picture depicts coming off the right of the subject? Thanks!
You would do this with a camera, a darkened studio and directional lighting. (Tom Mann can explain more about that)
 

Tom Mann

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Sam pretty much nailed it.

Pictures like this are taken in studios with whose walls, floor, and ceiling are painted flat black. The reason is to control stray light bouncing around and thereby reducing the contrast ratio (ie, making the areas that the photographer wants to come out black, instead appear as some lighter tones).

Here's an example: You have wonderful, pro level studio lights, and you use them to aim very tightly focussed beams of light at your subject. Your focusing and aiming is so good that none of this light misses the subject. So far, so good.

However, the subject himself is not perfectly black. He reflects some light - typically in the range of some tens of percent, and at random angles. This reflected light is precisely why the camera and the human eye is able to see him. 99.9% of this reflected light doesn't get captured by the camera, and instead, hits a wall, ceilling or floor. If those surfaces are black, this stray light gets completely absorbed by the walls, floors, & ceiling and is forever gone.

On the other hand, in a room like a bathroom that's painted normally, or especially, in a room that's painted nearly white, a good fraction of that reflected light bounces off the walls (etc), and this fills in all of the shadows that you intended to come out black. This is often called "stray" light, ie, light that is bouncing around randomly and isn't under your control. Depending on the details of a particular studio, the amount of stray light can range from very little (which might be able to be compensated for by changes in contrast in PS), to an amount that is so large as to make it impossible to salvage the image by photoshop.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of this problem, some newbie / makeshift studios have walls, ceiling and floors that are a light color, and the owners have attempted to convert them to all black surfaces by hanging black cloth over the walls and ceiling, having the subject stand on a black seamless paper background. Because of the gaps in coverage, this never works as well as an all black studio. In such studios, if a less harsh environment is desired they can simply put reflectors where needed for fill light, and thereby retain complete control of the light for both high contrast low key shots like this, as well as be useful to produce very low contrast, high key, gauzey, romantic images, typically of older women whose wrinkles need to be filled in, LOL.

Tom M

PS - I just saw your question about the "...faded, blurry, double / shadow...". That arose because a small fraction of the light aimed at the subject missed him, and then hit a floor or a wall in back of the subject that wasn't perfectly black.
 
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claydees

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Well, Photoshop is a wonderful program capable of accomplishing almost anything. Your sample image above was created mostly in studio and camera and very little PP (post processing) was done using Photoshop.

In an image such as you have described (in a bathroom), I seriously doubt you could make it look like the one above. However, having said that, I would have to see the image before I could say for sure. I want to add, that in order to accomplish a dramatic lighting effect on a normally or brighter lit photo with Photoshop, you would have to be a very advanced user with tons of experience.



You would do this with a camera, a darkened studio and directional lighting. (Tom Mann can explain more about that)
Ahhh...thanks for shedding light (no pun intended) on this Sam. I had no idea about this black box room concept before but it sounds incredibly awesome/cool. All I want to do is see one for myself now. Would be a weird experience for the first time I can imagine. Thanks for the insight my friend. Seriously cool even if I can't reproduce it/do it myself.

Sam pretty much nailed it.

Pictures like this are taken in studios with whose walls, floor, and ceiling are painted flat black. The reason is to control stray light bouncing around and thereby reducing the contrast ratio (ie, making the areas that the photographer wants to come out black, instead appear as some lighter tones).

Here's an example: You have wonderful, pro level studio lights, and you use them to aim very tightly focussed beams of light at your subject. Your focusing and aiming is so good that none of this light misses the subject. So far, so good.

However, the subject himself is not perfectly black. He reflects some light - typically in the range of some tens of percent, and at random angles. This reflected light is precisely why the camera and the human eye is able to see him. 99.9% of this reflected light doesn't get captured by the camera, and instead, hits a wall, ceilling or floor. If those surfaces are black, this stray light gets completely absorbed by the walls, floors, & ceiling and is forever gone.

On the other hand, in a room like a bathroom that's painted normally, or especially, in a room that's painted nearly white, a good fraction of that reflected light bounces off the walls (etc), and this fills in all of the shadows that you intended to come out black. This is often called "stray" light, ie, light that is bouncing around randomly and isn't under your control. Depending on the details of a particular studio, the amount of stray light can range from very little (which might be able to be compensated for by changes in contrast in PS), to an amount that is so large as to make it impossible to salvage the image by photoshop.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of this problem, some newbie / makeshift studios have walls, ceiling and floors that are a light color, and the owners have attempted to convert them to all black surfaces by hanging black cloth over the walls and ceiling, having the subject stand on a black seamless paper background. Because of the gaps in coverage, this never works as well as an all black studio. In such studios, if a less harsh environment is desired they can simply put reflectors where needed for fill light, and thereby retain complete control of the light for both high contrast low key shots like this, as well as be useful to produce very low contrast, high key, gauzey, romantic images, typically of older women whose wrinkles need to be filled in, LOL.

Tom M

PS - I just saw your question about the "...faded, blurry, double / shadow...". That arose because a small fraction of the light aimed at the subject missed him, and then hit a floor or a wall in back of the subject that wasn't perfectly black.
Thanks for the tremendous insight Tom. As I said in my response to Sam, even though I won't be able to reproduce an image like this, the concept of the pitch black studio just sounds super foreign and super cool to me. I'd like to experience this because it's kind of atypical but also really unique from a physics perspective because in theory, like you said, light aimed at something completely pitch black will not illuminate anything but as you said when discussing makeshift black rooms, it's almost impossible to really create a black space so black that light cannot shine in it...so the fact that there are really black spaces like this out there is something that's hard to imagine, hence why I'd like to see it for myself. Then again I guess it's like the night sky in a way if you were to take a picture of the sky when there are no stars in it or whatnot? That said, I did not know about these studios until you mentioned it. I honestly thought it was just a dark place where they darkened the background and gave it a weird cartoonish filter over the subect because in the sample image, the subject looks a bit unusually, almost slightly cartoonish, but I guess it's because of the room being so dark that subject stands out so much. As for the shadow/blur effect, it just kind of makes this discussion even more interesting to me with respect to how light can be manipulated. Really cool stuff.
 
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If the effect was done in PS, it was likely some kind of motion blur.

The difficulty is, you need contrast between your subject and your background in order to see the effect.

See below.

Simple motion blur on a layer of white above the subject with a layer mask painted to show the subject.
 

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claydees

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Hey Agent,
What settings did you use for your blur? Simple gaussian with any particular settings? Also, was that image also shot in a black studio room? Thanks.
 
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Motion blur.

Angle = 0

Distance = about 200 or so



See the attached image - top layer is just a white fill over the subject, with a layer mask painted to show subject detail.
 

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IamSam

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Expounding on what AM has posted because there are always other ways to accomplish effects.

I basically did something similar with a few differences.

I made a copy of the original image and turned it into a smart object. I did this so I can go back at anytime to adjust the blur.
I then used the FILTER > BLUR > MOTION BLUR smart filter Angel 0 and distance 101. (If I don't like these settings, I can always change them)
Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 11.21.47 AM.png

I lowered the FILL of the copied layer to 40%.
I used the Move Tool to move the copy layer over to the right. (I did not want the effect showing on both sides of my subject)
Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 11.22.06 AM.png

It looks pretty good like this, but if I want to clear up the blur on the subjects face, I will need a layer mask.

I turned off the blurred layer.
Selecting/Highlighting the original image, I then used the Quick Selection Tool to make a selection of the subject.
Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 11.21.06 AM.png

Going back and selecting/highlighting the blurred layer, I clicked the "add layer mask" icon located at the bottom of the layers panel to add the layer mask.
Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 11.26.28 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 11.26.34 AM.png
 

claydees

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Motion blur.

Angle = 0

Distance = about 200 or so



See the attached image - top layer is just a white fill over the subject, with a layer mask painted to show subject detail.

I just found this image on google - was looking for a high contrast between subject and background.
Expounding on what AM has posted because there are always other ways to accomplish effects.

I basically did something similar with a few differences.

I made a copy of the original image and turned it into a smart object. I did this so I can go back at anytime to adjust the blur.
I then used the FILTER > BLUR > MOTION BLUR smart filter Angel 0 and distance 101. (If I don't like these settings, I can always change them)

I lowered the FILL of the copied layer to 40%.
I used the Move Tool to move the copy layer over to the right. (I did not want the effect showing on both sides of my subject)

It looks pretty good like this, but if I want to clear up the blur on the subjects face, I will need a layer mask.

I turned off the blurred layer.
Selecting/Highlighting the original image, I then used the Quick Selection Tool to make a selection of the subject.

Going back and selecting/highlighting the blurred layer, I clicked the "add layer mask" icon located at the bottom of the layers panel to add the layer mask.
Thanks Am and Sam. So this is cool that we can create a blur effect like this without the need for a super-high end camera in a black room necessarily. That said, you've both stimulated two ideas in my mind that may or may not be seriously flawed. The first is...if I can make this effect, then in theory can't I just use my magic wand and background eraser tool to erase the white background and then just fill the background with black and recreate a similar effect to the edited storm trooper/OP sample? If that doesn't make sense/will look too fake, then my alternative theory is...couldn't I just wash out the naturally white backdrop of the bathroom somehow so that in effect I have a "whiteroom" instead of a blackroom and then just work off of that instead to create a similar effect except with a white background instead of a black one? Again, these ideas just popped into my mind now so...they may not be the best but I felt compelled to ask. Thanks again!
 
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IamSam

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The first is...if I can make this effect, then in theory can't I just use my magic wand and background eraser tool to erase the white background and then just fill the background with black and recreate a similar effect to the edited storm trooper/OP sample?
No, not really. It will never look right. The problem is mimicking the actual lighting that occurs when photographing a subject in a darkened setting.

claydees said:
If that doesn't make sense/will look too fake, then my alternative theory is...couldn't I just wash out the naturally white backdrop of the bathroom somehow so that in effect I have a "whiteroom" instead of a blackroom and then just work off of that instead to create a similar effect except with a white background instead of a black one? Again, these ideas just popped into my mind now so...they may not be the best but I felt compelled to ask. Thanks again!
Well, again it's a matter of mimicking how the bright back lighting would appear on the subject. But you could come closer to accomplishing this that making the BG dark.
 

IamSam

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This is from an old thread back in 2013. I tried...........that is tried with very little success.......to mimic a dark background with a strong shadow. It's very hard to do.

Original photo
Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 4.22.01 PM.png

Poor result
Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 4.28.37 PM.png
 

claydees

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Thanks Sam. I was unable to open the images but for sure I'll take a crack at trying this, probably using the white backdrop as you recommended after I transfer the photos over to my computer. I'll probably dim the white to an off-white/grey just so it's not too blindingly bright. Should work out nicely since wearing a black leather jacket in the photo, which speaks to that contrast thing we were discussing on page 1 if I were to stick with a white background!
 

IamSam

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Just to show you.........here's a very old example that I made back in 2013 that demonstrates the basic steps to creating a backlight.

Original
Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 1.00.34 PM.png

Removed BG and made it white....
Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 1.00.42 PM.png

Added shadowing...
Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 1.00.53 PM.png

This was a basic backlighting demo that was never taken any further than this............but you can CLEARLY see, it produces very poor results.
 

Tom Mann

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...Thanks for the tremendous insight Tom. As I said in my response to Sam, even though I won't be able to reproduce an image like this, the concept of the pitch black studio just sounds super foreign and super cool to me. I'd like to experience this because it's kind of atypical but also really unique from a physics perspective because in theory, like you said, light aimed at something completely pitch black will not illuminate anything but as you said when discussing makeshift black rooms, it's almost impossible to really create a black space so black that light cannot shine in it...so the fact that there are really black spaces like this out there is something that's hard to imagine, hence why I'd like to see it for myself. Then again I guess it's like the night sky in a way if you were to take a picture of the sky when there are no stars in it or whatnot? That said, I did not know about these studios until you mentioned it. I honestly thought it was just a dark place where they darkened the background and gave it a weird cartoonish filter over the subect because in the sample image, the subject looks a bit unusually, almost slightly cartoonish, but I guess it's because of the room being so dark that subject stands out so much. As for the shadow/blur effect, it just kind of makes this discussion even more interesting to me with respect to how light can be manipulated. Really cool stuff.
You're right, Claydees -- studios with pitch black walls, ceiling and floor can seem incredibly odd when one first walks in. However, they usually are not completely black most of the time because the subject / object being photographed is usually being illuminated either by the photographer's modeling lights (http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/04/lighting-101-be-flash.html) or by banks of conventional room lights that have been turned on so that people can walk around and do work in the space. However, even with a gentle introduction to the situation, some models occasionally will freak out when the ambient lights are turned off to take the shot. Also, at least in conventional portraiture, one rarely wants completely black shadows (they are too harsh for all but the most severe styles of portraiture), but the black room provides this option when it is needed.

With respect to your question about the blur around the subject in the example you posted, to be honest, I only noticed that question just at the last moment as I was about to send my message, so I didn't look at the image very carefully (...and I was using my cell phone...). Now that I look at it more carefully, I realize that I was wrong and the blur surrounding this subject was not spill light, but, as AgentM and Sam pointed out, was almost certainly added in post. The exact structure of these blurs are a lot easier to see if one brightens up the shadows (see attached, below).

A similar, blurred edges effect occurs when one "drags the shutter" (ie, the camera combines a sharp image registered by the flash with an image blurred by subject or camera movement registered by weak continuous (ie, non-flash) ambient lighting). This doesn't look like that, but because it is such a common effect, I've included a couple of examples below, together with the brightened version of your image.

Finally, I would like to support Sam's comments about the extreme difficulty of using Photoshop to simulate high contrast lighting. The fundamental reason it is so difficult is that if you attempt to simulate the look in post-production, to have the results look at all realistic, you have to manually add shadows (in exactly the right amount and position) corresponding to every indentation and protuberance of the subject, ranging in size from pores and hairs to large scale facial sculpting arising from underlying bone structure. I've never seen anyone wanting to spend enough time doing this, unless they were devoting their art and their lives into doing so (eg, the hyper-photo-realistic digital painters).

HTH,

Tom M
 

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claydees

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Just to show you.........here's a very old example that I made back in 2013 that demonstrates the basic steps to creating a backlight.

Original

Removed BG and made it white....

Added shadowing...

This was a basic backlighting demo that was never taken any further than this............but you can CLEARLY see, it produces very poor results.
To me it's still impressive even if you believe it is very poor considering the starting point but I see what you're getting at: definitely seems like a better idea to keep the white background, wash it out with a gaussian blur so that there is more focus on the subject, and then motion blur the subject with on a white background instead of trying to make it black and then build something from nothing. Then maybe apply a filter to give it a cool semi-glossy finish? That makes sense right?

You're right, Claydees -- studios with pitch black walls, ceiling and floor can seem incredibly odd when one first walks in. However, they usually are not completely black most of the time because the subject / object being photographed is usually being illuminated either by the photographer's modeling lights (http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/04/lighting-101-be-flash.html) or by banks of conventional room lights that have been turned on so that people can walk around and do work in the space. However, even with a gentle introduction to the situation, some models occasionally will freak out when the ambient lights are turned off to take the shot. Also, at least in conventional portraiture, one rarely wants completely black shadows (they are too harsh for all but the most severe styles of portraiture), but the black room provides this option when it is needed.

With respect to your question about the blur around the subject in the example you posted, to be honest, I only noticed that question just at the last moment as I was about to send my message, so I didn't look at the image very carefully (...and I was using my cell phone...). Now that I look at it more carefully, I realize that I was wrong and the blur surrounding this subject was not spill light, but, as AgentM and Sam pointed out, was almost certainly added in post. The exact structure of these blurs are a lot easier to see if one brightens up the shadows (see attached, below).

A similar, blurred edges effect occurs when one "drags the shutter" (ie, the camera combines a sharp image registered by the flash with an image blurred by subject or camera movement registered by weak continuous (ie, non-flash) ambient lighting). This doesn't look like that, but because it is such a common effect, I've included a couple of examples below, together with the brightened version of your image.

Finally, I would like to support Sam's comments about the extreme difficulty of using Photoshop to simulate high contrast lighting. The fundamental reason it is so difficult is that if you attempt to simulate the look in post-production, to have the results look at all realistic, you have to manually add shadows (in exactly the right amount and position) corresponding to every indentation and protuberance of the subject, ranging in size from pores and hairs to large scale facial sculpting arising from underlying bone structure. I've never seen anyone wanting to spend enough time doing this, unless they were devoting their art and their lives into doing so (eg, the hyper-photo-realistic digital painters).

HTH,

Tom M
Again, thanks for the in-depth Tom. I really want to experience it haha so I will plan a time to find and then go to a studio and ask if I can just stand in the room for a couple of seconds. It's still interesting that the subject is so vivid despite the black room. The lights must be very powerful because the only thing I can think of is shining a flashlight at someone outside when it's really dark – you still don't get a picture/image as vivid as these blackroom images.

Appreciate the insight regarding the motion blurring echoing Sam and Am's sentiments. I'll should be able to add this effect nicely now with the settings you guys have listed and the knowledge I've gained here. It would be the same setting I imagine regardless of whether a subject is contrasting on a white background or contrasting with a black background if my hunch is correct.

Regarding your last point, does this high contrast logic really only apply when dealing with blackroom? As I was saying to Sam, I was thinking of just keeping a white background and then adding the blur of the subject wearing black against the white background then rounding it off with a glossy filter/finish to give the equivalent effect of the sample image except on a white background instead of black background. This should be easier I imagine because the background is naturally white and the black will contrast with that nicely right? Or will it still look tacky in your opinion?
 
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I would think that the motion blur effect would work well in any case where you have contrasting colors.

Not necessarily black and white. I just used a stormtrooper as an easy illustration.
 

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