By Request: Brendan O'Shea's Post Production

Several people asked for some details on Brendan O'Shea's Photoshop work on the cool band photo featured on Friday. Brendan was kind enough to check in and supply the added info:

Says Brendan:

"I got quite a shock this morning when I checked my inbox. A few people have expressed interest in the post production, although it never works for me if the lighting's not a particular way.

The front light is a shoot through umbrella high enough to light everyone in the group. The backlighting is two more strobes, usually just outside the frame. Once again I go to considerable effort to make sure everyone is lit. This involves juggling positions and placement of subjects before I can take any shots at all. If even one person in the group is unlit, it's not going to work.

In the shot above, there was simply no way to light everyone and have the strobes out of shot due to the narrowness of the alley, so I decided I would hide the right hand strobe in a doorway as best I could, and erase it later if it was too obtrusive. This lane was a through road in the city with traffic, so experimentation wasn't much of an option.
As for post, in this case everything was done in Photoshop, but it was nearly there out of the camera.

Here's what I did with this shot: Cloned out everything that didn't help the shot (cigarette butts, onlookers in the background if there were any, lighting equipment) then I cranked up the Radius on the Unsharp Mask, but kept the amount fairly low. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Really depends on the lighting.

Duplicated that layer, desaturated that new layer and changed the mode to overlay. Changed the opacity until it looked OK. Then I burnt in some highlights on her hair and pants to make them appear shinier. And that's it. Ten minutes tops.

I agree wholeheartedly with those who suggested a less Photoshopped look. I actually prefer the unretouched version (I'll put it up on flick as soon as I can) but when the average consumer can come up with some pretty great photos, I find I have to go a few steps further to give them a reason to hire me. Even if it means crossing the 'good taste' line.
I have no doubt shots like these will become this decade's version of mullets and platform shoes, but for now, and for a really good laugh in thirty years time, they're a lot of fun."

Thanks much for the info, Brendan!


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