photo-i DVD
a guide to digital


Taking Stock.

©Vincent Oliver - Getty images 

Earning a living as a freelance photographer may sound glamorous but actually making your pictures pay can be a difficult and time consuming process. Taking photographs is only half of the story, it's what you do with them afterwards that completes the picture.

The brief for the above picture was to convey job hunting. The employment section of a broadsheet newspaper was photographed head on and then a perspective distortion was added. This kept all the text in focus, although I could have used a large format camera to control the perspective, my method kept the shooting cost down. The person walking was my assistant, he was photographed outside, then cut out and pasted onto the newspaper. The shadow was manually added with the paintbrush set to an opacity of approx. 30%.  This picture has sold worldwide and continues to sell each month. Images such as this are simple to set up, it's the idea behind them that takes the time.

A successful stock image should be able to convey many messages, a good art director will be looking for images that create a mood or visually deliver a story line. Our image could be used for a number of conceptual ideas, ideas that may not always be obvious at the time of shooting - so take lots of pictures. For this picture I used a 2.1 mega pixel Canon S10 digital camera.

Step 02

Our sample picture could imply many things from splitting up, to a business at a cross roads, to a change in career or changing direction. Some fussy elements on the right need to be removed to focus the attention on the important area. Use the crop tool to change the format from landscape to vertical. Draw out a crop area and double click to make the crop.

Step 03

Due to underexposure the picture lacks impact. Use Levels,  Colours > Adjust > Levels to boost the contrast. The important slider is the input levels, move the white diamond so the  value is approx 124. Move the black diamond to the value of 50. The centre diamond will stay constant at 1.00 but can be moved to alter the mid tones. This has knocked out most of the grey, leaving a clean white and a good black.

Step 04

Tidy up the image by removing some of the remaining pavement texture. Use the Paintbrush for this task (the eraser tool works on a Layer but not on a Background image). Make sure the foreground colour is the same as the image by double clicking on the swatch and then use the eyedropper tool to sample an area of the image, this now becomes your new foreground colour. Carefully paint over unwanted areas to clean up the picture.

Step 05

The picture is looking a bit bland and static. Use the Motion Blur filter Effects > Blur > Motion Blur to add some movement to the image. On the sample image I have used an angle of 180 and an intensity of 40. To add a finishing touch I have also added a Hue via the Hue/Saturation/Lightness filter. Select the Colourize button and add a desired Hue (I used the value of 24) and a Saturation of about 40. This adds a hint of colour in the blurred areas.

Step 06

For the final picture I drew out a selection around the figure on the right, then Cut the selection (this places it on the clipboard), and then pasted it as a new Layer. The figures have been repositioned slightly apart. As a last stage I have resized the image to 400%, this has converted a 3.3mb image to 52mb (requirements for stock library). Although on our sample picture you can get away with an extreme resample, you will not be able to apply this amount on most images without seriously degrading the image.


January 5, 2008

© Vincent Oliver 2008
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