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Background Creation

Lesson 9 from: Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

9. Background Creation

Lesson Info

Background Creation

The photo shop what a challenge right it's like overwhelming and I've been doing it a long time uh I don't remember what version of started with but twelve years ago maybe more I don't know time goes by so fast but I've been doing a long time and I still don't consider myself an expert in photo shop but you might say I'm expert in photo shop and what I do so what let's let's go back to the beginning almost the first thing that came out of my mouth this morning was that if you know where you want to end up you get a straight line there if you don't know where you and I end up here like a dog chasing its tail right so photo shots the same way so complicated and then you hear someone doing something you like and you learn that but then you don't know where the planet and so um number one I'm not an expert in photo shop so there are people that could do this a lot better than me so what I'm going to show you is how I do it right so if there is something someone and get this all the time I'...

m teaching photoshopping a go if you you know all command do whatever this lift your left leg is the faster shorter shortcut right well there's true I'm probably doing things that you know there's more shortcuts to it but it's okay I get my shots done now, there's a lot of things that I do know about photoshopped that I've come to understand and that is this talk to the number one best re touches in the world the column finishers and they'll tell you that the goal well, one of the goals is to minimize destruction there's a thousand ways to beat your image up and then it looks like garbage at the end. So there's a couple things that we can learn in minimizing destruction one is working from smart objects I'm gonna explain that a little bit. The other is, um working with adjustment layers and there are some other tricks on how you manage your files to minimize destruction. So that's we want teo so, um but what I want to do, um is also I want to show you an hdr and I've picked a pretty difficult I say difficult, but an image that's not very flattering at this point and we're going to make it look like a cool image at the end. So what what do you what I hope you learn from this is that I shoot a lot of backgrounds and what's most important is that the subject pops from the background so I backgrounds every important but yet my subjects more important, so um and here's a little side note I get emails ah, probably every day or if you were the day that asked me do I sell my backgrounds or where do I get my backers? Do I buy him from a stock agency and the first question that comes that my mouth is are you an artist? Yeah, yeah, yeah we're artists right now would you want someone else's artwork in your background? Not me, I sure wouldn't want it so I want to do my own backgrounds well that's a lot of work besar byman stock agency or by a disc with bunch of background someone else has done the work for me in fact it be cheaper in terms of time and money and gas and whatever to buy. But I take pride in the fact that I do my own backgrounds. I also do all my own retouching is be a lot better for me as a advertising commercial photographer to have a re full time re toucher doing all my own work cost wise, I can make ten times the amount of money taking the picture as I can't editing the picture. So why don't I had it all my own pictures? Because I'm insane probably, but because I'm an artist that's why I want to see it all the way through so I pay a price for that I make less money probably in the end but yet I have my own image I could say I did that and the other thing is this I discovered something very interesting the last say four years, three years is that I get a call from an ad agency they say we want you to shoot these sports figure and we're gonna take the pictures and we got our team gonna put it together and drop this guy in the background and we're talking one hundred thousand dollars campaign, right? So I say to them, look, I'll do it if you let me do the photo shop oh, we don't do that way have to have our own team go then you've got the wrong person so they waited it why would I turn down such a big job and be such a stickler when it comes to me? Seen all way through? Because here's what I tell him you can hire me to do the shot, right? But you're not gonna get a jeweled graham's original. So is that what you want? Do you want this? Look that I've got to go? Yeah, well, then you have me do it all the way through and I said, you know what the fact is is I'm not going to make this much money if I do it myself, but I want to see it all way through because that's what I am as an artist I don't want to see it and I've had every single time I've said that they've agreed they have me do the read touchy so what does that tell you it tells you that the world wants artists we want people that are creative forces and so fight for it fight for the creative process and for the caribbean a creative force and it may not work for me every time but I guess what it's working for me so don't be afraid to say you know what I want to see it through I want to get my own backgrounds I go at all cost I'll climb a mountain and do this shot and maybe I get paid a lot of money but it's my image and my creation and it's not a matter of being like stuck up prideful big headed prima donna it's more the fact that I truly believe I'm an artist and I take pride in that and enjoy I guess joy in that process so I do all my own background to do on my own retouching and um I've learned a lot about sort of selling the fake now um when I first started doing this um I ran into some problems and I thought first of all I say problems I thought that I had to measure the distance of the tripod off the ground right down the millimeter of the lens and then go out to the back room with the exact same angle millimeter f stop whatever didn't have to almost every picture you see here the subject maybe like a twenty four the background could be a sixteen millimeter or even wider so wide angled wide angle looks pretty good now if I shot a telephoto on white angle it might not sell a fake that well but so long as this winding of the wide angle and you can have the exact millimeter exact height exact everything and do a really lousy job it's selling the fake so it's not getting the millimeter that's perfect for you know the technical numbers to match up there's something more about selling the fake and here's what it isthe if you can get this just like a magician david copperfield or criss angel and they do their thing right, what are they working off of emotions that's what sells the fake is you believe it to be true that's what's most important whether it's accurate or not is not important was whether you believe it to be true. Nothing is going to talk about this on saturday a photograph is not reality is a representation of reality, so therefore my goal is on a magician I'm an illusionist I'm creating something that's not real to be real and even a capture in camera is not riel so even in camera you've got to make it and sell the emotions of it that's what's most important so if I get the emotions down, I've sold you no matter how perfect my cutout is doesn't matter what's the matter is is I suck you in emotionally to the whole thing, so that takes practice with time you get better at it uh it's selling to think I call selling the fake learning little tricks to get someone sucked in alright, so with that I could talk a long time on all this but let's get to it so backgrounds, I usually look for a background that's like a wall like this straight, you know, or down the pike, right? So I don't shoot a background like slightly off I see people do at all time I'm I did architecture and my first few years and photography, so I learned to straighten everything up. Now a lot of lenses aren't perfectly straight a little bit of distortion. You'll see it on this. This is a good example. This background, the locker room's a little my liz is there kind of little bit off, but I'll explain to that and we'll straighten him out, but the idea is they want to build a background that's put this person and I'm going to make this mood create this mood and this is probably not the best background but it's simple so I gotta make a simple because I don't have, you know, ninety minutes to do this so quick question joel just about background before you move on be turner photo so do you have an idea of an image before getting the background or to just run around shooting everything for any future use? Okay, so that's the question I get a lot now when I started, I didn't actually I forgot to say this, but almost every event that I start, I'm going to tell you two things about me that I'm not and two things about me that I am, I'm not brilliant, you've discovered that already I'm not a creative genius, but I have a passion for the creative process and I'm a really hard worker, okay? So when it comes to things like backgrounds, do I know when I photograph a subject of what I'm gonna do for the background? No, some of my best images I happened tohave on my desktop, a background and I got this portrait like food what do I do with this? Oh, wait here's a picture on there comes together, right? So I'm not that smart figured all out I'm not that pre planned I don't now there's some people could maybe could do that, I don't, so I just let it go and try to work with the flow of it and things fit and unfit sometimes I'll take a background in a subject no grabbing background kind of ho hit this one this one works so think about that don't overthink the process member just executed execute a bad idea until a good wind comes along so that's my spiel on that so I just got through doing that so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna grab this and there's three ways I do in hd are now almost all the images you've seen and my portfolio were hd are processed in photo matics I about a year and a half ago started using nick nick's a beautiful hdr uh and I think that in some ways you get a cleaner file from nick that you do automatics and as of lately I've been using photo shop and I'm doing thirty two bit I'm not going to that today because that's the whole probably ninety minutes right there but I'm gonna do it in photo maddox right now because I've done most of them and most people have automatics and so and also because I just upgraded the cc I'm not they pulled down for nick is not sitting there I don't know what happened to it so uh will you do it in automatic? So what I'm gonna do is I've got my two stop under my normal to stop over not a very flattering set of pictures but no worries we're gonna grab him were to come over here to photo matics let go it's gonna ask me do I want emerge to an hd are you bet ideo so I go through here there's a three images I can browse for him but I got him already there um and it says down here show intimate intermediary three two bit hdr image I have no idea howto work that I've tried to get thirty two bit out of photo max I can't do it someone may be able to coach me on that but I could get thirty two bit out of nick and get three two bit out of it for a shop so what? We're gonna leave in a sixteen but at this point and I got a hole that's a whole different talk on bit debt but we're gonna keep going because that could be here all day. So a line source this is just a set of lockers back here. Uh probably correct by horizontal and vertical shifts is fine there's no ghosting I don't care about noise reduced chromatic aberrations I'm colorblind so if there's some aberration I don't even see it we are going to definitely keep it in adobe rgb now we know that pro photos the best color space we know that s r g b is the worst color space so why would I not goto pro photo because right now pretty much there's nothing that khun or that khun render the color space of pro photo the printers don't quite do it in blah blah blah blah so as a general rule right now I keep it at adobe rgb now again there's people that know a lot about color space more than I do and I heard our amazing talk rick births talk about color space and he basically said for now keep it in adobe rgb so pre process it yes I want to do with and a for future use in a ce good quality yes you can you could you could you could set up your whole workspace to go pro photo um it I don't know at this point I don't know if you we could always go back he had to but here's why who say bit depth is so much more important at this point that color space that's my take and again I could have someone challenged that very easily and I'm probably to get a whole bunch of emails on that. All right, so here we have a um the preview doesn't look very exciting that does it so let's go to default it is default now you got a bunch of previews over here um that you could go through I hardly never used these the problem with hdr is it got a bad rap in the early days because everybody went to all these funked out me on whatever settings so and even my hd ours for a lot of treatment but it's not done in photo matics is not done in the hdr program it's done later so I want a really simple generic setting here in processing so what is hdr hdr is allowing you to get detail on the highlights detail the shadows and so that you can't do that one capture now the locker room like this probably not as extreme but if you're outdoors most of the time a star is like, you know, unbelievable but don't overdo the hdr look that's my take so I lead the strength of same I come down to lighting adjustments I leave all this the same and I might pull um the lighting in a direction usually is to the right okay, then I come down here to smooth highlights well, there's no blow out, right? So I don't want to worry about that white point. Um I'm not worried about that and I'll watch the history I'm here by the way I look at the history graham knot on the back of the camera, I'll do it here so I might bring a little bit more of a black point, but I know I'm gonna build contrast later so I'm not worried about my contrast I want my I want my image to be a little bit overexposed that makes sense like it was about a stopover and then my gamma I might let's bring the gamma down I'm gonna make this background really dark later and so temperature I don't care about, so I'm gonna say pre process now if I've got to set up right the next time I opened photo matics, it defaults to what I just did last, right? And we're going to put these two images together, so I want to save this save as and I want to drop it in let's go toe oh, we will desktop and we're going to go in a bear down and we're going to say, we'll just leave it a tone bit just get it over there who hope I didn't lose my keyboard? That would be disaster, no problem, so let's go and I'm going, I'm going too already said save as so let's do the other side so that what im going to show you his? I shot this with my seventeen till shift and we have a look at the front element of this thing in that beautiful, so I shot left click click, click right click, click, click I'm now going to get a thirty six megapixel capture panel so I do this all almost all my backgrounds now are left and right now I have a twenty four tilt shift I do it too so I get a bigger a bigger file and I get a more of a panorama field so we just did the left side come on and now I'm going to do the okay so here's the right side okay, so we're gonna pick that up over photo matics let go if you say yes yes pre process I'm going to go through the same so I'm not gonna look at it just going to say keep going up, up, up, up, up so here we go it's gonna process it lying all its little goodies and again hdr is one of the most amazing techniques on the planet. It gives me ability to create an image I couldn't do in one capture, eh? So we're going to save as we want to go bear down and actually it'll still do the same. What will be fine? Because he's got a different set of numbers so we're done saving now I gotta pick up the two the two tone but math ones so here we got left and right okay, so I'm gonna click on both so I now have selected both I am working in bridge you could do this in light room I don't do light room because I haven't learned it I'm kind of behind the times but don't do a lot of bad stuff so I work at a bridge now I'm gonna take it into um it'll go right into photoshopped someone say tools photoshopped photo merge let go it's now going to blend these two together so I'm gonna go otto so about ninety percent of time otto works perfectly so we'll see here so here it goes so start blending this these two images together and hopefully I'll be the perfect fit and it should because it by the tilt shift I don't have your problems now if I do eh on the nodal point rotate my camera I gotta find that nodal point and usually well I'm using the really write stuff let's get out of here we don't need that it works perfect alright so here's my background let's raise us up and um lips we don't do that we want teo here we go we can now we got two layers so the two layers there and it shows the mask I'm gonna flatten that so I can go let's go back here I can go up here to layer I think the last one down here's flatten I have made a shortcut I've made it and you go in there by um over here I think it's make shortcuts here, keyboard shortcuts. I signed my own keyboard shortcut, which is, um, control option command deaf. So now I flatten that, so I have my panorama sitting there again, it's not very exciting, right? But is there I'm going to save this? Um, I'm going to save this, just make sure we have it. So we're gonna call it, uh, bear down one, and we're gonna go back into bear down locker room, and we just had a tiff of it, okay, so just sitting there, we went on a macintosh, just so I haven't.

Ratings and Reviews


Fantastic!! He is so down to earth and humble. His work is unique an exceptional and he shares his techniques, experience, tricks, and best of all his life stories that took him to where he is now. One of the best instructors in CL. I love how he checks the ego at the door and just shares his art and techniques with us. I definitely recommend this course and I was lucky enough to get it at a great discounted price but it is worth its regular price imho.


He's my new favorite instructor, there are many CL instructors I really like but the second I watched and heard him I bought the course, love his style, love his knowledge and the way he conveys it. His way of Frequency separation is fantastic and pretty precise and takes care of a lot of flaws. Learned lots! Thanks Joel! Thank heavens I am not color blind ;)


Joel makes it easy to follow when it comes to editing and shooting. He is a wonderful teacher and very easy to learn from. I enjoyed the photoshop techniques he taught as well as his approach to lighting. My favorite part is his advice on business it's very motivating and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed this course!

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