August 4, 2006

You can make your digital photo look like a painting...

A disgustingly cheesy painting. Still... I'm fascinated by this technique and want to learn how to do it. Photography software obviously dramatically increases the potential for producing work that's in bad taste. The more you can manipulate images, the more your poor judgment can reveal itself. Nevertheless, I love the new tools.


knoxgirl said...

Uh, yeah, there are clients I have dealt with that would benefit from the understanding that just because you can do something with Photoshop, doesn't mean you should. It takes a very light touch and a lot of the features produce corny effects.

"Live Trace" in Adobe Illustrator will make drawings from photos not unlike the animation in those "talk to Chuck" Charles Schwab commercials or the movies by, is it Linklater? Anyway, that's a really fun one to play with and you can actually get some cool results.

Balfegor said...

I thought this was going to be a post about the program Painter (Corel? Metacreations? I don't know who owns it now) and its cloner brushes. You can use them to take a base photograph and transfer it to a new image using a digital paintbrush. The paintbrush behaves like a normal paintbrush, except that the colour is taken from the base photograph. Very fun, particularly with portraiture.

But you're talking about HDR. You can use it for photographs, yes, and perhaps simulate a painting effect, but I think the most impressive uses I've seen have been with 3D graphics -- the HDRI images can be absolutely spectacular.

michael a litscher said...

Ann: Still... I'm fascinated by this technique and want to learn how to do it.

Get out your D70. Go into the Pencil menu area. Set "BKT set" to "AE only", which changes your D70's bracketing mode to adjust your exposure settings.

Then set "BKT Order" to "Under>MTR>Over", which changes your D70's bracketing mode so that three consecutive shots will be under exposed, just right according to the internal meter, and over exposed.

On the back of your D70, in the upper left corner, is a button labeled "BKT". Press and hold that button, and rotate the front dial to set the amound of under and over exposure of the first and third shots respectively, as viewed on the upper LCD display. While still holding the "BKT" button, rotate the rear dial until "BKT" is highlighted on the top LCD.

Mount your camera on a sturdy tripod, compose, focus, and then shoot three shots.

Your first shot will be underexposed, which allows your camera to capture detail in the highlights, which would normally be blown out. The third shot will be overexposed, which allows your camera to capture detail in the shadows, which would normally be lost in low-level noise.

Fire up Photoshop CS2. Click "File", "Automate", "Merge to HDR..." and follow the instructions.

altoids1306 said...

HDR is a way to mimic the eye as it adapts to very different light intensities. It isn't an accurate representation of a scene (lending to the cheesy look), but neither is a normal photograph.

If we wanted a truly accurate representation of scene, we would need a camera capable of capturing a the extremely wide variation of light in a scene. Since digital cameras partition the light intensity into 256 linear segments, a lot of information is lost, either in areas of the scene that are rendered as all "0" (underexposed) or "255" (overexposed), or worse, both at the same time. Photographic film has this problem to a lesser degree, since a certain level of light is required to develop a photoactive molecule, and beyond a certain point, all the molecules have been developed and the film is completely saturated. Using larger and faster films will help this problem - IMAX looks better than slides, which looks better than digital photographs.

Even if a scene is accurately captured, we need some way to display it. Photographic paper isn't good enough. The black in a photograph isn't as dark as the night sky, and the white in a photograph isn't as bright as the sun. The best solution is a completely dark room, with a powerful projector and black walls (to prevent reflection).