This is the Blog of Swiss Photographer Nicolas Henri

Tutorial: The Glacier’s Tear

The German photography blog 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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Stereoscopic 3D is taking the entertainment industry by storm. While HDTV took a good while to establish itself in peoples homes, 3D hit us within the last 12 months, out of the blue and it’s happening NOW! In Switzerland, the “3D Dudes” (they like being called that) at are at the forefront of stereo 3D production. They asked me to help them create a guerilla campaign for their 3D activities. While the technology behind 3D is very digital and relatively complex, we decided that we needed to disembody the visuals from the technicalities and create a character to emotionalize the whole thing: “Pablo 3D” was born!

Pablo 3D has arrived

Pablo 3D has arrived!

“Pablo 3D” is the all-knowing, omnipotent king of Stereo 3D. He won’t bore you with nerdy talk, he just wants to bring great 3D to humanity and do a little disco while he’s at it! With André Sommerfeld we found the perfect model/actor for Pablo! I’ve seldom seen talent be so in sync with their character before: André is pure Rock n’ Roll… or Salsa in this case!

For the above image we shot at Zürich Airport. After passing the extensive security procedures necessary to shoot within the secure areas of the airport, all the good fun started! A 747 of Indian tourists had just landed and they were immediately in love with Pablo, wanting to take photos and get autographs. It appears they thought he was a local celebrity… we happily played along!

"No you're not drunk! Pablo is 3D!"

For the next image in the campaign, we shot at Zürich’s deluxe cinema Pathé. Obviously the image is comped from two exposures. I had never shot in a cinema and was a little worried about lighting a dark pit. But as we walked in I realized that I had the mother of all fill reflectors at my fingertips! I aimed one of my Ranger heads at the giant screen, which gave me wonderful base light in seconds. I accentuated Pablo with a large Elinchrom octabank from the left, giving me enough light for both exposures without having to move the light and avoiding consequent problems while compositing the two shots. The backlight from the far end of the theater also served as an imitation of the projector in the back. We worked fast and smooth, in and out of the location within two hours! Pablo style I guess!

Of course my assistant Monica, also shot some BTS of the day! As you will see, we had about as much fun as one can have on a shoot:

NICOLAS HENRI: PABLO 3D - Behind The Scenes from Nicolas Henri on Vimeo.

For the last image in the campaign we moved to a back alley location in Zürich to work out Pablo sleazy side: After all his character was designed with an 80ies-Miami-Vice-meets-Columbian-drug-dealer in mind. Only he deals all flavors of 3D glasses!

"Pablo deals 3D for you!"

"Pablo deals 3D for you!"

Now, you may ask “Why are they shooting a campaign for 3D in 2D”? Well, we thought the same thing! While these images will be featured on postcards, brochures, etc. we already moved along and shot a short film with Pablo. And of course we shot it in stereoscopic 3D! It’s in post production as we speak and I’ll spill all the details right here once it’s done!

In the meantime show Pablo a little love and become a fan of him here or ask him any question about 3D on his Twitter!

Posted by nicolas_henri on May 15th, 2010 :: Filed under Lighting, Making Of, On Location, Photography, Uncategorized
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Today I feel like new things need to begin, so it seems more than appropriate to present another one from the series GLAUBE | LIEBE | HOFFNUNG (Faith, Love, Hope). It is entitled GEBURT (Birth).

Chantal, our six year old model for this image, was a real trooper and professionally endured the massive strobe power we threw at her. In fact, this image was shot in bright daylight, while I pulled a heavy key shift to create the nightly feel. I underexposed the background by 5 stops and compensated the Elinchrom strobes accordingly.  I had one bare strobe head sitting in the hole in the ground in front of Chantal and large softbox to her right.

The location was the backyard of a friendly farmer in Germany. Besides his farming business he runs a holiday lodge which overlooks the location. While I was digging the hole the night before, all of his guests were standing on the balcony watching me. Until the shoot the next day, conspiracy theories about the strange proceedings went haywire. Dead dog, treasure hunt and terror attack were among them…

At the end of the day it’s a seemingly innocent picture about planting new and exciting things in the secrecy of the night.

Posted by nicolas_henri on February 16th, 2010 :: Filed under Lighting, Making Of, On Location, Photography, Set, Uncategorized
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