Thursday, April 24, 2008

It's a Matter of Perspective...

We can't reasonably expect the people who view our pictures to put on those cardboard 3D glasses. While it would be very entertaining, it wouldn't do any good anyway.

But creating the sense of perspective is a fairly simple matter.

This jeep sits outside a WWII museum in New Orleans. Taking this picture with the end of the barrel in sharp focus and the rest of the gun progressively blurred was pretty simple.

I simply set my focus point to the right, locked in tight on the end of the barrel and adjusted the aperture properly and got the tip in sharp focus.

Sometimes, however, you can't take the picure with such a sharply defined focus. Here's where you can use Photoshop to your advantage.

What makes a subject "leap" off the image? It's accomplished by tricking the eye. It will focus on everything that is in focus, and immediately put everything else into a mental "background."

This angel guards a grave in a very small cemetary in Texas. She needed to be in the center of the graphic because I really wanted to create the idea that she was coming out of the picture.

The steps taken to finish this graphic are included in the upcoming "Perfect Portraits" course. But briefly, when taking the picture I wanted the background to be recognizable, I wanted to heighten contrast on the angel and I wanted to add a very strong perspective element to the photo.

The idea here is to use the "Quick Selection" tool in Photoshop CS3 to define the angel and her stand. I used the Selection options to build higher contrast on her, even as I "inverse" selected to blur and slightly desaturate the background. Then, with the background selected, I used Filter/Blur/Lens Blur to complete the effect.

This being done, the angel stands out on two fronts: she has a higher contrast and she is in sharp focus, as opposed to the background which features a lower contrast and has been uniformly blurred.

The "uniform" blur is important to the success of the picture, by the way. Remember that the camera would, in most cases, have a gradual blur. Since our intent is to create an angel in stark contrast to her background, the uniform strong blur makes her stand out even more strongly.

Think about using this perspective technology on another sort of picture. Think about how strong a product shot could become. Think about the specific focus on the bride even as you blur everything else. How about a child's eye? How about....???

Perspective is a great device to use on many graphics. It directs the viewer's eye to the specific aspect of the picture you have pre-chosen AND it makes them go "ooooooo."

And isn't that what it's all about?

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