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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