Muddy photos!

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’d had trouble editing the background of some of my flipped photos. I worked on correcting the problem this evening, so I figured I’d go ahead and show you what I was talking about that had been bugging me as well as share the final results – so here goes.

Since I was rotating these shots, I had to crop them in an odd way to get the composition right, and as a result there was a lot of space added to them that wasn’t in the original. I know I am not articulating that very well, but basically, I took photos that were horizontal rectangles and cropped them into squares, which added a lot of tacked-on gray space that wasn’t in the original shot:

tutubefore1

I then had to use a clone tool to cover all this gray with the white background. While this sounds easy enough, a solid white background actually has an astounding amount of variation in shade, and it’s hard to clone all that gray space so it blends properly. I am sure it’s possible, but I don’t have the skill to pull it off every time. And as it turns out, white is way more difficult than the purple I used last time I flipped photos. Anyway, after cloning white space onto the gray and pulling the shot into Photoshop to try and blend the cloned areas using the patch tool, the end result was, well, patchy and smudged, as if the backdrop itself were dirty. It’s not terribly noticeable in the first shot, so I circled the bits that were bothering me:

tutusmudge1

I also had a harder time using textures than usual with these shots because tulle is very transparent, and it wasn’t easy to select the subject and erase the texture from it (I wanted to be lazy with these two shots and leave a white background with no texture, but it was not to be). In the end, I did add texture to conceal the smudges:

tutu10The final shot. Still smudged, but now it looks more like part of the texture.

I think the whole process is more clear in this next shot, where you can definitely see the muddiness of the background that was bothering me. But the first thing you can see is that I tilted the hell out of this shot. I wanted my upper body to be parallel to the imaginary horizon line, so I did quite a bit of horizontal rotation after flipping:

tutubefore2

Cloning and patching out all that gray, plus the differences in shading between the blanket on the floor, the sheet on the wall, and the plaster, made for a seriously dirty looking background. If you REALLY want to see how bad it was, tilt your laptop screen back a bit for this one, and – YUK! – you can see more detail of the poor blending job (and yes, this is after editing and fixing it to the best of my ability):

tutusmudge2

No WAY that was tolerable, so I added the same texture as the first picture to disguise it. Took more time, but it did solve the problem:

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As I mentioned before, this flipping photos stuff involves processes I don’t have to use for straight-on jumps, and I started to get tired of all the cloning and patching and blending and texturing; in the future when I do this, perhaps I can at least avoid a white background as it’s trickier to edit. Either that or forgo the tulle so I can add texture behind the subject without so much hassle.

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Tutu shoot

After my disappointing grocery store trip that yielded little in the way of decent photos, I decided to throw up a backdrop and try out some more jumping shots Saturday night, with the intention this time of flipping them to look like I was falling. It’s a different sort of jumping this requires – I am used to facing the camera as I leap, and trying to get my legs as high off the floor as possibly to add to the effect of height, but for these flipped shots I just need to look like I am falling backwards or forwards, so I can make smaller leaps with my feet staying closer to the floor. It’s also a fairly different process to edit the shots, but in spite of the differences I think this was a successful experiment.

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I also noticed how different it is to jump without all the fabric and hair to worry about as I usually do. I’m normally concerned with getting the hair and the clothing to move in a certain way, but here, it was just my body I had to concern myself with. The tutu wasn’t going to flow in any other direction but outward no matter what I did, and since I had no wig on I didn’t have to concern myself with flinging it about. The end result was a lot of really nice jumps that didn’t have some of the usual bloopers such as wonky hands or weird faces, although that did happen on occasion. But all I had to think about was keeping the toes pointed and the fingers from going crazy and I think that’s why I got so many good shots in such a short time. Not that this means I’m ready to reject my usual layers of flowy clothing and long hair, because I will always love that stuff. But sometimes it’s nice to change things up.

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Of course, the occasional weird face did make it into the set. I still liked this one enough to process it in spite of the strange expression.

Because I didn’t get started until later in the evening (I usually set up and shoot in the morning and early afternoon) I did not bother with stage makeup or an elaborate outfit; I also didn’t much feel like putting on a wig – I just wanted to jump around.

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I used one of the fabulous headscarves I bought from BeauBeau headcovers – these things are great if you are like me and can never successfully tie a real scarf around your head. They’re pre-tied and just slip over your head like a cap. I love the look of a good scarf over my hair, and even though they are marketed towards women with hair loss I have a ton of them and wear them quite often – but I digress.

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I also incorporated another plastic mask I got from Party City, a white one this time, but I’ve found that after trying masks out twice, I really don’t care for what they do to a photo. I guess I like faces and facial expressions too much, or maybe I need to buy better masks instead of the $3 cheapies at the party store. Not sure, but neither time I used them was I pleased with the effect. So I most likely won’t be doing that again.

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Um, no.

For the tutu pics, such as those I’ve shared above, the lack of stage makeup didn’t bug me too much, but I also wanted to test out this idea I’ve had for quite awhile and keep forgetting to try, which is layering myself in petticoats and letting them all fly about in jumping shots. I did put a wig on for these, and I really felt the lack of proper makeup later when processing them. I am not criticizing my appearance without loads of war paint or anything – it’s just that in photos, with the amount of bright light I use, facial features disappear if they’re not exaggerated. My eyebrows in particular won’t show up at all, and my eyes appear to sink back into my skull. I’ll have to try this again when I have time to apply a full face. Also, I need to fluff up the petticoats some more, that bottom green one wasn’t moving about as much as the blue one and it kept leaving a “gap” in the material.

tutu3
Love that wig! It’s a Gothic Lolita, of course.

I have tons more of the tutu ones to process, and a few more with the petticoats I’d like to work with also; this isn’t even everything I worked on the past two days. In fact, I sat at my computer processing shots from 10 AM to 3 PM Sunday, which would be pathetic if it didn’t produce something I consider to be art at the end of it all. But it did, so I am happy. Also, while I usually work with different filters and textures for each shot I edit from the same shoot, this time I kept the process the same for all the tutu shots (except for the mask ones) which feels a little odd to me, but I thought it created a better sense of consistency. I am always changing up what I do and how I do it, so that’s what I went with this time. Here’s a quick collage of everything I’ve edited so far:

collagetutu
By the way, I use good old Pixlr for my collages. Is there anything that program can’t do?

And that one in the middle occurred right before I tore down the set; Sprocket had made himself comfortable on the fleece blanket I’d laid down on the floor, so I decided to do a few leaps over him for fun. Here’s the one I ended up processing:

sprocketjump