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By Jalle S.

It all started with the picture to the right. I have, for a long time, been intrigued by pictures where the subject sort of comes out from a black background. This Omega Dynamic with its black dial and a Hirsch black and white Joker strap seemed like a good object for such pictures.

For a while I’ve been frustrated that I’ve been unable to take decent picture using artifical light but after a conversation with Jocke I felt that I started to get the hang of it. Ok, this picture still needs some enhancement, there is a high light glare at the clasp in the background that disturbs the main focus; the dial, but I was getting where I wanted.

The picture is built with layers, masks and gradiants which enables a gradual transition from light to darkness.

(You can click on all pictures to get a larger picture)

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Soon enough, this became less interesting and I began looking for more influences. I did come across some intruging techniques at Dpreviews Retouching Forum where the ideas of Dave Jeseck caught my eye and I started doing some experiments with duplicated layers, distort one layer using Gaussian blur, blending modes and curves. After a while I ended up with these variations…

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But after all was done and all the smoke cleared, it was this one that I became most satified with…

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How it was done…

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The starting picture

Most of the pictures on this page started out like this. The black background is added in Photoshop. The watch is selected and I use masks to get gradients.

Jalles Power Tips:

The most powerful tool I’ve discovered to make selections of irregular object is the Pen Tool. Use it to create a path, modify the path as needed and then choose “make selection”

Easy, quick and powerful!

At the top: Soft Focus

Make a duplicated layer of your picture. Add a 10 pixel gaussian blur. Fade the blur (available under Edit meny) to 30-50%. Run a unsharp mask (experiment with the settings, an example is amount 18%, radius 50 pixel and 0 threshold). Call up the Eraser tool and erase those parts that you want sharp.

The ones in the middle

Apart from the top one of those (which is a water color variation) these are soft glow variations. You start with with your image and create a duplicated layer. Run a gaussian blur on that duplicate layer (15-30 pixels) and choose multiply as blend mode. This gives a dark picture but we will continue. Make a new duplicate layer of this distored layer. Choose Screen blend mode and the picture will become lighter. Use Curves to adjust the pictures to your taste. You can also experiment with opacity and curves to get the effect that you want. The three in the middle and the bottom one shows different experiments.

The one at the far left and the bottom one is the same picture, the only difference is that I have erased the blur on everything but the dial on the left one. The glow on the dial is done by selecting the dial and using curves to enhance the green glow (a name was suggested for these pictures by Vilmos Levay: Glowmega…)

The middle one at the far right is also enhanced with curves on the dial, but in this case Color Range was used to select the indicies and the hands only, while in the left picture the entire dial was selected.

The bottom one, my pride

On this photo I used a variation of the dream effect by Dave Jeseck. First I converted the picture to grayscale. After that I ran Daves dream filter: Start with your picture. Make a duplicte layer. Convert the picture to LAB mode (don’t flatten). Choose the lightness channel and add gaussian blur (around 30 pixels). Convert back to RGB and play with the blend modes to create different effects.

My touch or addition was that after all this I merged the layers, toned down the opacity and added a background layer which I filled with a blue color (choosing other colors will change the feeling of the picture, experiment on your own). As a final touch I added the yellow second hand to get a strong color in the picture.

The tools:

  • Omega Dynamic
  • Nikon CoolPix 995
  • Adobe Photoshop 6