November’s Newsletter!

https://www.mermozinefineart.com/post/november-s-newsletter-is-finally-here

Struck by Lighting!!!

Once upon a time….

In a not so far away country (well it all depends on where you live really….)

Lived a photographer (yes, it might be me)

Within the first days of Covid-19 confinement

She got very motivated about using this time to boost her inspiration

To learn new skills, develop her craft!!!

But days followed days

Weeks followed weeks

And at some point she realised that

The initial motivation was long gone

What is Monday or Sunday?

Would they ever get out again? (very dramatic, I know…)

And then… one evening….

As she was walking by the study to go to the kitchen

She saw the light!!!

And she dropped her washing the dishes plans

To meet her camera again…

https://www.mermozinefineart.com/

How to Create a Composite Image with Photoshop.

Sometimes you have a picture in mind you really want to create but it’s not practical to do it directly in camera (sadly…).
 
What to do?????
Well, photoshop of course!!
 
I know, at first, it can be a little bit intimidating, but with just a little bit of practice (and some patience) it’s easily accessible to everyone (no need to have special geeky superpowers … well at least not for what I do).
 
So last month we celebrated one of my daughter’s birthday.
Usually I go outside to do portraits but this year we are confined inside. And to make it worse there was a thunderstorm and the light inside was horrible…. but never mind that…
 
Anyway, I had a small space to work with (basically just a white wall).
I had in mind a picture of her with ballons falling all around her!
And really just the few balloons I could find in the store (most stores are of course closed), and just my husband and her siblings to throw balloons.
 
So, the easiest way was to take many pictures, and then combine them in Photoshop to create the final image I had in mind.
 
So here you can see a sample of the pictures I used (view from my Lightroom Catalog).
 
Photography © Catherine Houston
 
 
 
The first one is the one I will call the Base Picture.
 
It’s the one on which I liked the most her expression, so I added the balloons from the other pictures onto that one.
 
So that is my Base Picture:
 
Anniv Elea-8296
 
No, after a few seconds spent cleaning up the base picture (adjusting contrast, light, cleaning up the background, I started to add the balloons.
 
For example I liked the purple balloons on that picture:
 
Photography © Catherine Houston
 
So I selected the Lasso Tool on Photoshop
Photography © Catherine Houston
 
And selected an area around the balloon (the background being white, I did not have to worry too much about the selection being perfect, as long as the whole ballon was included).
 
Photography © Catherine Houston
 
You can then copy paste your selection onto your Base picture.
And then you can Edit-Transform your selection to adjust the size, orientation, …, to fit into your Base picture.
 
Photography © Catherine Houston
 
I’m not going to do all the balloons (I added about 10), each time using the same steps.
But at the end you should have your Base picture, plus all the Layers of the added objects. This will look like that:
Photography © Catherine Houston
 
Your Base picture is at the bottom (Background) and all the above layers are the objects added (copy/pasted) from the other pictures.
 
If necessary you can do minor adjustments to each layer to blend as nicely as possible to the Base picture (for example you may need to adjust a little the Brightness/Contrast if the light conditions changed a little between your picture (to avoid having the added object for example to dark compared to the Basic Picture).
 
Photography © Catherine Houston
 
 
You just have to click on the layer you want to adjust, and then go to Image – Adjustments -Brightness/Contrast
 
Photography © Catherine Houston
 
When you’re satisfied with your final image, you just have to Flatten all the Layers (basically combine them all into one single file). Just go to Layer – Flatten Image.
Photography © Catherine Houston
Et Voilà…
Photography © Catherine Houston
 

A day in our confined lives…

Most of the world is on stand-by…
It’s called “lockdown”, “confinement”, or here in Singapore “Circuit Breaker”..
Either way, everything/everyone seem to be standing still…
 
seem to be standing still …
 
But life is still going on inside homes.
Kids are still being kids, and parents, well, they are trying to make the best of it, multitasking teleworking, homeschooling, housekeeping, sanity keeping, …
 
Wandering how it is a an apartment with 4 kids?
 
It is manageable but you have to seriously lower your expectations.
Our home is a school all mornings – my office has been taken over by little girls – the living room is being transformed in a giant doll house every afternoon, and the whole place look as it has been through a tornado daily.
 
Here is a few pics into one day in our confined lives…
Our confined lives © Catherine Houston
There is a lot of teleworking for the kids too.
Our confined lives © Catherine HoustonIt’s sometimes difficult to get motivated for schoolwork .

Our confined lives © Catherine Houston
“A day in our confined lives”… documentary family photography.

But we are usually done by lunchtime and then the fun time can begin.

Our confined lives © Catherine Houston
“A day in our confined lives”… documentary family photography.

Then the toys take over the place.

Our confined lives © Catherine Houston
“A day in our confined lives”… documentary family photography.

May the fun begin….

Our confined lives © Catherine Houston

For my little one having his big sisters home all the time is super exciting… and a little bit tiring…

Our confined lives © Catherine Houston

Fights and meltdowns also fill up our days!!

Our confined lives © Catherine HoustonOur confined lives © Catherine Houston

But usually all it takes is a big cuddle, and they are back in business!Our confined lives © Catherine Houston

So yeah, it’s exhausting for us parents, but at the same time we have a unique opportunity to spend loads of time with our little ones. So let’s try to make the best of it. And to be totally honest, even if I find the days very long right now, I will miss them when schools will reopen...
 
Stay home, stay healthy but keep living!!!

Behind the scene of a fine art portrait

Children Photography - Fine Art Portraiture - Singapore photographer

https://www.mermozinefineart.com/post/a-fine-art-portrait-in-the-making

A fine Art Portrait in the making…

What is the difference for me between a “regular” portrait and a “fine art” one?

Not the quality, just a different concept.

A “regular” portrait, for me, would be either a spontaneous, lifestyle portrait, or a portrait taken during a photography session (therefore among multiple other shots), something that would be in the concept of a family session for example, with little pre- shoot work (choosing the location, time, and eventually wardrobe, but that’s pretty much it), and simple post-processing (light adjustments, contrast, sharpening, … ) and usually no major photoshop work. I like those portraits to be as natural as possible.

A “fine-art” portrait, for me, would be more about a concept, about creativity. The final product would be one (two eventually) shots. There is a pre-shoot work of thinking about a theme, background, props, … And after the shooting itself I would do more post-editing, as I would not be looking for realistic / natural look anymore.

Today, I will walk you around the making of my latest fine art portrait.

My idea was to create a series of children portraits that without even really focusing on the face will translate the character of each child.

Like usual in my photography work, I was looking for simplicity: a simple background, just a couple of props representing something the child likes, and the great thing is that it does not have to be real, it can represent a favorite character, a dream for their future life, …

So, first I sat down with a couple of blank sheet of papers and a crayon and started writing down keywords for each one of them (favorite colours, some personality traits, hobbys, dreams, …), and then sketching ideas…

So here is for example my first sketch (and yes, I know my drawing skills are horrifying!! ), but you get the idea. I wanted my little girl to be standing up, facing the backdrop, with a violin in her hands in her back (she does not really play but loves music). I wanted something very soft, with in my mind something a little inspired by Degas’s paintings in the way she will pose. I wanted her hair just gently tight in the back, and music sheets next to her on the right, with the light coming from the upper left.

And I kew that I will want all the other portraits of this series to be of the same model. Same background, same type of pose, same type of light, and the few props on the right side. I also new that I will use a dark backdrop (to be specific my thunder grey one) and that I will add texture in post-processing to go back to the painterly idea.

Like often, things did not go exactly as planned and I had to make adjustments. The strobe I was planning to use on the upper left did not work as I wanted to (I could not orientate it as much as I wanted) so I decided to use window light instead, and to worry about the rest in post-processing (knowing that I add on hand a willing model with quite a short patience spam ;-)).

Once satisfied with the light and the positioning of the props, we tried the poses I was originally thinking of, with several little adjustments.

The next time phase was routine photographer’s job (for me with Lightroom): transferring the pictures to the computer, sorting them, during a few batch adjustments (exposure, noise reduction).

And then photoshop for the post-processing of my final 2 pictures: extending the backdrop, adding some light on her hair, adjusting a little the colours, working on the curves, adding a vignette effect (darkening a little the corners of the image), and adding a texture on the image.

(I was originally planning on having only one image, but could not choose between those two, so I kept them both :-)).

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