FCAS application #2

Started May 31, 2004 | Discussions thread
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Vegard Senior Member • Posts: 1,202
FCAS application #2

My first attempt didn't go so well. http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1007&message=8889444

Here we go again. This is the same piece of jewelry as in my first attempt This time, I have rinsed and polished it

The piece of jewelry is difficult since it already contains a design and a composition, and I am trying to redo it. The problem is much like that of a music video. Should it mirror the music? Then why a video? Should it tell another story? Then why the video?

Well, here's my rendition of mum's old necklace.

Equipment
Konica-Minolta Dimage A2
Sony VCL-HGD1758 1.7X teleconverter
Tripod
Two white FCBs, one to reflect
Direct afternoon sunlight from the left

Exif
1/1250 sec
f=7.1
ISO 64
Focal Length 50.8 = 200*1.7 = 340mm equiv
Focal distance approx 25 cm I think

Setup

Original

What I've done differently this time.

  • My TC has arrived since last time, and following Uncle Frank's advice, I have shot the macro with the TC instead of a reverse mounted Nikkor normal. With an 8 Mpix sensor there is still enough image material to crop. Now Uncle Frank; there goes the Nikkor and it's YOUR FAULT that there is a Sony lens here instead! But you get to see the whole piece!

  • Uncle Frank wanted to see the gemstone. I agree. I have now placed it more or less at one of the Rule of thirds points and also tried to arrange the necklace leading your eyes toward it. Also, the necklace partly echoes the design of the pendant. (WOW! Composition!)

  • As if that was not enough, I tried moving and twisting it to see what kinds of reflections it created. It was impossible (read: I gave up) to catch those reflections, so I used one of the best exposures and manipulated it in Photoshop.

  • As I have said several times already, I just love Lucy's backgrounds, where the background repeats colour themes found in the main subject. I have tried to do the same here, although of course with less talent than Lucy, sigh. I am not that good on colours

  • Lucy also received a hint on the image being too flat, too 2D with a uniform background, so I have included a gradient and a shadow, trying to make it look convincing relative to the lighting.

Now to the workflow. This took about a half day, 4-6 hours.

  • I shot between 50 and 100 pictures. AF mostly didn't work (macro with the A2 isn't what you Nikonians are used to), so I tried to shoot MF, and it wasn't possible to judge sharpness in the EVF. The final shot was AF after all.

  • Cropped to 2400*1600 for more convenient working size

  • Created a mask from the necklace by copying the original and increasing contrast, desaturating, expanding, shrinking, smoothing, feathering, etc.

  • Redid mask manually with a soft brush. Argh.

  • Added special adjustment layers and masks to achieve special effects, see below.

  • Performed Dawn's torture test to reveal sloppy edges. Redid mask...

The final levels are bottom up (opposite of what you see in Photoshop):

  • A Gradient between two colours picked from the gold. I finally decided on the brighter end under the pendant.

  • A Curves layer to pull it down a bit in tone

  • A Color balance layer to move the colours slightly into the red/brown domain

  • A Levels layer at approx 50% with a mask. The Levels is used for darkening, and the mask contains the shadow. The mask is a copy of the necklace mask, expanded by many pixels and first given motion blur and then Gauss-ed by a small radius. Then the mask has been shifted relative to the necklace to create an illusion of the light coming from the left (as indeed it does).

  • The necklace layer with a mask revealing only the necklace

  • A Hue & Saturation layer

  • A Curves layer, both sharing the same mask that reveals only the gemstone. These are used to make the gemstone more blue, and brighter

  • A global Curves layer with just a hint of an S curve to add more "pop".

  • Rotated 10 degrees

As the penultimate step I decided on the final crop, quadratic or rectangular? Cropped and resized.

And finally, showed it to my daughter (17): "Dad, it looks FAKE!".

Why? What? For one thing, you can see banding in the gradient, dad. And the shadow just looks fake. Too blurred.

Uh-oh. So I redid the shadow, sharper. I don't know what to do about the banding except moving to 16 bit...

Submitted.

Final image

Pretty please...?

-- hide signature --

Vegard

Konica-Minolta A2, May 2004, Olympus C-21oo UZi, April 2001

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