Part of being a photographer is finding ways to express your creativity. I thought I’d experiment with a “selfy” shot that I did a while back to give it some more character. Ok, those of you who know me are probably saying, “dude, you don’t need any more character.” But I digress. Let’s have a little fun.
The original shot was done using my Nikon D3s and 105mm f/2.8 AFS G VR Micro-Nikkor lens (a very good portrait lens). I used a single SB-900 Speedlight off-camera on a stand, controlled by the Nikon SU-800 commander. The out of camera result was this:
I brought the image into Photoshop, where my goal was to apply plug-ins effects via layers for complete control. Now it was time to get down and dirty! I duplicated the background layer and I used single-image tone-mapping in Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro 2.
Yes, this is extreme, but hang on…
Once I was back in Photoshop, I added a layer mask and used brush tools to subtly paint in the HDR tone-mapping effect. I started by filling the entire mask with black to remove the effect entirely, then used a white brush on the layer mask with the brush opacity set to 30% to add the effect back in.
Ok, that’s cool, but I didn’t like the distracting background. I applied a strong black Vignette filter with Color Efex Pro 4 in a new layer. Not bad.
My last step was to add film contrast and a little more structure effect, so I turned to Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2. I made some simple Structure slider effects with Silver Efex Pro 2, and I added Film Grain. Of course, doing so turned the entire image into a black and white one.
I wanted to retain some color, though, so I went into the Layers palette and set the blending mode to Luminosity. This preserved the film grain and contrast enhancement and let the color image show through. I backed off the layer opacity slightly to get the look I wanted.
While I don’t recommend this technique for portraits of your mom, it is a fun exercise and shows you what you can do when you use your plug-ins via layers. The end result is an effect that couldn’t be produced in any one plug-in alone, at least not easily.
Learn more about how to use plug-ins with layers with this training video workshop, Layers of Creativity.