Friday, April 8, 2011

Fruit Flies

A few months ago we were inspired by some work we saw in PDN and wanted to shoot some food photography using a fish tank and some fruit. The post processing on this shoot was pretty complicated and worth revisiting.

When you know you will have a complicated retouch ahead of you, its important to simply keep this in mind while you are shooting. This might sound obvious, but there are some things you can do during the shoot that will help on the back end. In this shoot we tried to get as many different shots of clean water lines as possible to use for composites, generally the more you have the better. We also tried to keep the water as clean as possible. Changing out the water to get rid of orange pulp is generally easier and less time consuming than taking it out in post. As much as I like pulp in my orange juice, lets face it, floaters aren’t attractive.

Once we selected the most interesting splashes, opening them in Photoshop and fitting them all together to form the composition we wanted was a somewhat subjective group effort. Several variations were made before we came to the final image. Doing things like converting the layers to smart objects to avoid data loss, masking out everything but the focus of each layer, and lowering the opacity of each layer until you have everything in place can help keep from spinning wheels. Otherwise it can be difficult to visualize exactly where to place things.

The next step in the retouching process was definitely the most time consuming. Taking out all the dust specks and orange pulp looked pretty daunting at first, but I saved a bunch of time by just making a solid black layer rather than trying to use Photoshop’s clone stamp to take out every speck. By making a black layer as the top layer and using a mask to cover the dust specks you don’t have to flip between different layers or tools. I find that simplifies things. You could also flatten the entire image and use the brush or clone stamp, but I like to keep the layer separate as long as possible just in case I need to go back and make another edit to the layout.
The only thing left to do then was cleaning everything up and making sure all the lines connect properly when moving from one composite image to the next. In the end the composited image took approximately four hours from start to finish. All said and done, we had a few new images for the portfolio so needless to say, we were excited about the results.

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