Light Painting: Post Editing Tips

Hey guys, it’s been a long break for me and I know the blog is pretty bare at the moment. But my exams are over and I hope to start posting regularly once again!

So I see that online there are a LOT of tutorials of home to do light painting; I think it’s a wonderful effect and you can read a couple of great tutorials of how to do it here, here and here. This tutorial is for intermediates and does assume some prior photo editing knowledge.

Now light painting is a fantastic medium to create stellar images, usually people like to write their name or super-impose something like a flower; personally I love the abstract patterns that can come from swirling your light around in the dark. However this is inconsequential to this tutorial, as there are plenty of resources to create your photo I’d like to show you the process I went through to get my shots looking a little more polished.

I am using a free programme called Paint.net which is a fantastic free alternative to Photoshop. The interface is very similar and only lacks a few of Photoshop features (Though as Photoshop advances, Paint.net does not). I strongly urge you to download this programme here.

Step 1. So you have your shots, but you might have som stuff in the background obscuring it, in this case, there is a computer screen. I am going to clone stamp it out, if you aren’t familiar with clone stamping I suggest you read this tutorial here. In light painting if you’re just looking to erase (which I recommend) look to set your anchor point in a dark patch that is near the object you want to get rid of, there may be darker patches on the photo but there will always be subtle balance differences and choosing an area near your object just makes it easier. See the photos below for a step by step example.

(If you’re worried that you can see the area affected by the clone stamp, it’s ok we’ll be addressing that next)

Step 2. Now we are going to balance our light and dark areas in the best possible way. There are two methods in doing this, you can use the brightness and contrast adjuster, or you can use the luminosity adjuster on the curves tool. I actually use both,because I find the curves tool better for fine tuning whilst the B+C effect is better in more general usage. You are only going to want to make very subtle changes so that they don’t look typically ‘edited’, this is a common problem among editors. There is an old saying that goes ‘If you can’t tell what the editor did, they did a great job’. I can’t really tell you how to adjust your own photo, but I will just show you the settings I used for my own.

Step 3. Now this photo is already looking pretty nice, I was lucky in this shot that the trail came out a nice gold, but your colours always won’t always pop this well and this photo can still use a little colour adjusting. You can do this by boosting the saturation slightly, however my prefered method is to use the curves tool again, by just booting the colours slightly you can really make those colours stand out, which just look great against the black background. For this shot I’m going to boost the yellows, but like the previous step have an experiment and see what looks best for you, I’ll post an example with some vivid greens that look great with an approximation of the settings I used.

You should be at a point where you are happy with your shots, personally to just give them that final, professional feel, I like to trim about 5 pixels or so off the top and bottom but that’s completely up to you. Here are two full resolution examples of my own shots, please leave a comment with any questions or links to your own light painting photo gallery.

[CLICK HERE TO VISIT MY FLICKR PAGE]

Peace,

Matt  :)

A Few Photos From November.

I may have not joined in with all the ‘movember’ antics, but November was a good for my camera, I got some ok shots of the student walkout and of the recent snowfall. Hope you like them guys, you can see more of my photo’s here.

BUPS Scavenger Hunt

“A Photograph is Usually Looked At – Seldom Looked Into.”

-Ansel Adams

Here is a small collection of photographs from the latest BUPS (Bournemouth University Photographic Society) meet; unfortunately I completley messed up my exposure settings so a lot of the photos were ruined. These were the only shots I could salvage.


Don’t Take Any Photos Until You Read This First!

3 Tutorials EVERY Photographer Needs to Read.

Hey guys,
So I’m a big fan of the ‘tuts+ range of sites (ranging from 3d design to sound mixing) and I came across 3 must read tutorials that I urge you to digest before you take any photographs. Personally when I bought my SLR camera I went to a local camera shop and asked the guy over the counter to explain everything to me, how it worked, what aperture means etc and I recommend you to do this too. However if you are in the position where this is not a viable option, everything I was told is covered in these three tutorials. I have also read through all of these and they are laid out very simply and I picked up a few new things as well. Whilst I may be new to SLR photography I do have a prior knowledge of composition due to my computer design work; yet these tutorials proved very useful even to myself and I urge you to read them.

  • The first is a tutorial on all the functions of your camera. Whilst personally you may not have all the functions listed, this tutorial covers eveything and though it’s long, it’s an essential read.
  • The second tutorial is almost worth more than the first, if you are in a rush (or just incredibly ignorant) you can probably still point and click an SLR, the chances are though is that you won’t understand how to adjust the exposure, or even know what it does. This is something I personally needed a little help understanding and I certainly would have benifited from reading this before my first ever SLR shoot where some of the shots came a little washed out. In a nutshell though, exposure controls the amount of light let into the lens of the camera; the more light there is, the more washed out it will look; the less light there is, the harder it is to see detail. Read the tutorial on exposure here.
  • Next is a tutorial that I wouldn’t have thought of off the top of my head, but when I read it a found absoloutley invaluable. This tutorial is about always choosing the best photo in a series. This tutorial outlines everything you should look to keep or exclude from a photo and goes into accute detail to define what is and is not the best. A surprising, but essential read.

Also, for those of you that don’t like reading, here is a video overview of all the topics covered. Click here.

I hope this tutorial helps you guys, I think anyone who takes the time to read this content will benifit greatly from it.

P.S: Just in case you’re interested, I shoot with a Pentax ME super finished in chrome. A sexy little camera I got second hand and half price because the aperture didn’t work. But luckily a guy fixed it for me for free! Woo Hoo!

Peace,

Matt :)

SLR Shoot

“The Camera can Photograph Thought.”

-Dirk Bogarde

These are a few shots I took last week to practice using an SLR camera for the first time, some of the shots came out well, others not so much. Plus I didn’t know how to adjust exporsure at the time but I do now! Hopefully the next shoot will come out better!