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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Hope Contest: And the winner is…

Myself and Beat Eisele are pleased to announce the winner of my Hope Contest: Johannes Siglär from Vienna (Austria) with his vision of “Hope”:

"Hope" © Johannes Siglär

"Hope" © Johannes Siglär

We felt that this image was the most intimate and subtle rendering of hope we recieved. There is so much to be read in the old man’s face. A technically and artistically great capture of the complexity that human emotions are! Congratulations Johannes!

What we didn’t know when we chose this image as the winner, is that it shows Johannes’ father and a very personal story of hope behind it. I’ll let Johannes explain in his own words:

“Several years ago, when my father suffered a stroke, hope got the dominant emotion for each and every one of us. We all had only one thought: that this incident may pass without consequences. Fate decided otherwise, our dreams didn’t come true. As a result life got challenging for my father, a permanent struggle with frustration gaining the upper hand. Yet still: from time to time, rarely, there’s a glimmer of hope, when a movement, a smile, a twinkle in his eyes calls to mind the echoes of times gone by. Having the opportunity to capture moments like this, when the joy of living surpasses everything else, is much more than I might expect from photography.”

While the image itself speaks volumes, knowing the story behind it makes it that much stronger and I’m very thankful that Johannes shared it with us!

Johannes says about himself that art in its many forms has always dominated his life. When time between his family and job became sparse, he traded his pencils and acrylics for a camera in order to fulfill his need for creativity in the few slots of free time that remain. Make sure to check out his Flickr and Blog to find more of his outstanding work in portraiture!

And of course a big thanx to all the other participants who sent in their vision of hope! Here are a few of the runners up:

"Hope" © àsìkò

"Hope" © àsìkò

Àsìkò’s interpretation is more of a conceptual nature drawing on different layers of religion and society. We liked it a lot because it is so different to most of the other submissions.

"Hope" @ Michaela Müller

"Hope" © Michaela Müller

Michaela’s submission yet again reflects a different facet of hope. While fishing seems a little superficial at fist glance, it actually draws on ancient, mostly christian concepts of hope and absolution.

Personally I think we should do this again. It’s a thrill to see what people come up with, when asked to deliver their own vision of a given theme!

Posted by nicolas_henri on September 21st, 2010 :: Filed under Contest, Photography
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Contest: Show us your Hope!

A few days ago I launched a little contest here. To make sure that none of you miss out, I am making it official here (plus extending the deadline for a week). For my latest exhibition I created an image entitled “Hope”:

Now it’s your turn to show your vision of Hope! Here are the CONTEST Details:

  • Send your images to
  • Image size: no larger than 1000px
  • Image format: JPG
  • Entry Deadline: Friday Sept 10, 2010
  • Contest Jury: Beat Eisele and Nicolas Henri
  • Prizes: 10 runners up will be presented at this blog. The photographer of the best photographic vision of Hope will receive a signed print of my “Hope”.

I am really looking forward to your contributions. In the end all of us will win, when we see the many forms and visions of hope you can come up with!

Posted by nicolas_henri on August 12th, 2010 :: Filed under Contest
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