Light Painting On Separate Layers

May 12, 2014 § 4 Comments

"Beer & Chips"

“Beer & Chips”

Light painting is somewhat unpredictable.  Unlike setting up a strobe, you can never be exactly sure what results you’ll get from one exposure to another.  With practice, you can get pretty darn close, but there’s still  that element of surprise that awaits the photographer while waiting for the image to appear on the ground glass or monitor.  I use the word “surprise” in it’s most positive way.  Sometimes you will get a result that’s unplanned, but spectacular.  More often than not, you get something great on one part of the image, but not so great in another area of the image.  This is where Photoshop, with it’s ability to work on separate layers is a godsend.  You have one image with one part that’s great, and you have another image where there’s a different part that’s great, and so on.  You open all the images in Photoshop, add a layer mask and paint out part of the image while letting the image underneath show through.  That’s what I did with these two images.  The beer shot consisted of many images, including a separate background, whereas the oil cans consisted of only two separate images.  With both, as with, all of my images, I edit not only in Photoshop, but also with my two favorite plugins…OnOne Software and Topaz.  Before I get onto the images, I need to say a couple of things about the beer shot.  I posted questions on Linkedin to my groups that pertain to food photography and food styling…namely questions about creating a frothy head on the beer that would last much longer than normal since “light painting” takes fairly long exposures.  The response from the members of those groups was astounding!!  I learned so much stuff from people who were only so happy to share…THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!  My next comment is, if you can work with a food/beverage stylist, do so!  Your life will be so much easier!  O.K. here’s a couple of comments about the images themselves.  “Oil Cans”…pretty simple, my biggest problem was that one image was overall pretty good, but the embossed lettering on the big can was flat and the handle was dull.  A second image had the lettering standing out, and the handle was nicely lit.  Combining on separate layers and masking gave me a very simple solution.  Now the “Beer & Chips” shot.  This was more difficult so I worked in stages.  First I looked at just the beer bottle and glass.  One image had my favorite glass shot, but the lighting in the bottle took on a too “fiery” look.  A different image had better lighting on the bottle while the glass wasn’t as good.  Oh yeah, the first shot where I didn’t like the light on the bottle, did have better lighting on the stopper of the bottle…again, a mask and paintbrush solved that problem.  Neither of these had a head on the beer, so a third image where I lit just the head was added.  Shooting the head by itself, also helped in two ways…the exposure wasn’t as long, so the bubbles lasted for the whole exposure, and also the fact that I used whipped egg whites to create the head.  The egg whites drift down into the beer and make it cloudy…no problem, I already had the glass of beer “in the can”.  Now for the chips.  I used two separate shots of just the chips, but in all honesty, I probably could have just chosen one and adjusted the lighting on them in post processing.  I then selected the composited subject and added a separate background from my files…whew!

"Beer Glass & Bottle #1"

“Beer Glass & Bottle #1”

"Beer Glass & Bottle #2"

“Beer Glass & Bottle #2”

"Beer Head"

“Beer Head”

"Chips #1"

“Chips #1”

"Chips #2"

“Chips #2”



"Oil Cans Final"

“Oil Cans Final”

"Oil Cans Basic"

“Oil Cans Basic”

"Oil Cans/Embossed Letters"

“Oil Cans/Embossed Letters”

"Beer & Chips" Again

“Beer & Chips” Again

"Oil Cans Final" Again

“Oil Cans Final” Again

Thanks again…hope you enjoyed this.




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