NICOLAS HENRI PHOTOGRAPHY
This is the Blog of Swiss Photographer Nicolas Henri

Tutorial: The Glacier’s Tear

The German photography blog kwerfeldein.de recently published a tutorial of mine on how my image “The Glacier’s Tear” was made. It sparked quite a response over there, so I decided to share an English Version here. While the shoot for it was fairly straight forward, this is a Photoshop Tutorial for the most part.

The Finished Image:

This is the final image, which most you will know from my portfolio. But the original capture looked like this:

Right at the start of the shoot, model Clarissa mentioned that she had this really cool white fur hat with her and she wanted some pictures with it. At the time I thought ” yeah, well, we might do something with it once I’m done with the images I have in my head.” Once we were done with my program for the day, I agreed to do some “fur-hat-imagery”. When I looked through the viewfinder of my Canon 5D I (finally!!!) saw how cool this could really turn out! Clarissa’s lovely gaze, framed in fine white structures - great! I used my favorite portraiture lens, the EF 100mm Macro. At the bottom, just out of frame, I placed a silver reflector, bouncing some light from the overcast sky into Clarissa’s face. That was all the light we needed. No strobes here. The frame was shot at ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1500.

Not much else to say about the shoot, except that Clarissa even managed to squeeze out a little tear, which led to the title: The Glacier’s Tear.

The Post Production:

Alright, grab yourself a cup of tea and make sure you have a little spare time. If you want to, dig up a similar portrait shot from your archives and play along.
At the beginning of my post processing, I always “zero out” the image. Sounds strange but it describes the process fairly well. The idea behind it is to get a very flat exposure before I start to work on the image. With this technique I lower the highlights and raise up the shadows towards a medium value. With this image, this might not seem necessary, since it was fairly evenly exposed. However this step is necessary for the next steps to work out properly.
In Lightroom (or any other RAW-Converter of your Choice) export a normally exposed version of the image, just as it was taken. Export as 16-Bit TIFF, colorspace Adobe RGB, no sharpening or de-noising.
Now export a second version where the exposure is lowered by 0.5 to 1 stop. And then a third version with exposure raised by 0.5 to 1 stop. Open all three exports in Photoshop and you should have something like this:

Now all three exports are combined into one photoshop file as layers. Place your normal exposure at the bottom, the brighter on over it and the darker one at the top of the layer stack. Hide the draker version at the top by ticking off the eye symbol to the left of the layer. You should now see the layer with the raised exposure. Switch to the Channels tab, where you’ll see the Red, Blue and Green channels of the image. We’ll now perform a highlight based selection. Hold down your Command button and click into the thumbnail of the combined RGB-channels at the top.

Photoshop will generate a selection based on how bright sections of the image are. You should see “roaming ants” around the brighter areas of your image:

Switch back to the layers tab to convert this selection into a layer mask. Click on ther “add layer mask” symbol at the bottom of the layers window:

Continue after the jump…


Posted by nicolas_henri on September 23rd, 2010 :: Filed under Artist Technique, Lighting, Making Of, On Location, Photography, Web
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Stampede of the Damned

After a really busy week I was thrilled when I found the new album by Mabon in the mail today. Their new record is entitled “Stampede of the Damned” and I was fortunate enough to shoot the cover for it:

Album cover for "Stampede of the Damned" by "Mabon"

Album cover for "Stampede of the Damned" by "Mabon"

To create the cover image we shot all of the band members individually against a black background in my studio. Each exposure lasted 6 seconds, while I had the modeling lights of my Elinchrom flash heads running. Within those 6 seconds of exposure I asked the band to move around, kicking and screaming as if in agony. During the long exposure I manually triggered the strobes to freeze a few moments in time, while the rest of the movement was smeared due to the long exposure. The resulting images looked something like this:

6 Second Exposure with multiple strobe bursts

6 second exposure with multiple strobe bursts

6 Second Exposure with multiple strobe bursts

6 Second Exposure with multiple strobe bursts

Multiple frames likes these of all of the band members where then composed into one burst of humanoid emotion… at least that’s what it felt like while I composed the final result.

The final result after compositing the individual shots

The final result after compositing the individual shots

Once again this project proved to me that working with musicians is one of the most rewarding things to do as a visual creative. Mabon’s new record is available now through their website!


Posted by nicolas_henri on February 5th, 2010 :: Filed under Artist Technique, Photography, Post Production
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Behind the Scenes of “GLAUBE”

My new show GLAUBE | LIEBE | HOFFNUNG (Faith, Love, Hope) has finally opened last weekend (Details here and here) and I am very happy how well it was received! As promised in my last post I will be sharing a lot of background info and BTS video from the shoots involved in the production. The project itself derives it’s title from three principal images. Today we will start with a closer look at the creation of GLAUBE (Faith).

It all started back in November 2008, when we set out on a beautiful autumn day to create the image above. In facty it started a lot earlier than that, because the planning and pre-production for this one took almost two months. And as the title of the image suggests, quite a bit of it had to do with keeping the faith…

(Keep on reading + video after the break)


Posted by nicolas_henri on November 5th, 2009 :: Filed under Artist Technique, Exhibition, Lighting, Making Of, On Location, Photography
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