Saturday, April 21, 2012

Shooting Outdoor Close-Ups in Dark

Technique to separate main subject from busy background.

Few days ago I was shooting blossoms of our peach tree but I wasn’t entirely happy with the outcome – the background was way too busy. Cutting one branch and bring it in the studio wasn’t an option and neither was placing some background behind the branch with blossoms. One fool-proof option opened to me was to wait till dusk and shoot with flash. And that is exactly what I did and results were not bad at all. I know that I should have used tripod but this was more about technique then producing a book quality image. It is too late now to re-shoot the peach blossoms, they are way past their prime, but I will use this technique for more outdoor projects where I want to separate main subject from the background.

Original image shot in RAW, 100 ISO, 1/125 sec @f/5.6, auto-focus with pre-flash assist, off camera E-TTL flash with prism lens and diffuser, 1st curtain, Flash Exposure (FE) -1 stop. For razor sharp image I would have to use tripod and strong light for focusing.

During RAW conversion to JPEG I adjusted levels and blacks so that background was more or less black.

After conversion I opened the image in Photoshop and cloned away the remaining background. Then I cropped and tilted the image. I was left with just a peach branch with blossoms against black background. Total time spent in Lightroom4 and Photoshop was less than 10 minutes.

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