After a lot of years developing software I’ve learned that the best result seldom happen the first time. There are those times when I’m just about done with a change and something happens and I lose it all. The computer bombs, I press the wrong button, something. I holler, swear and call myself names. Then I start over and rebuild it. And almost without exception I return a better product. The first time becomes the dry run, the practice period. I make my mistakes, figure out the details. Then when I do it the second time it falls together more smoothly.
What’s hard is when the mistake isn’t made and I have to push myself to throw away a perfectly good product and do it the second time. In the work place its not going to happen. The first attempt works and my boss isn’t going to take my argument that it will be just a bit better if I do it all over again. But I can with my art. It’s still hard to do it again, to convince myself that if I do it again it will be worth it. But it is.
The other thing that helps a lot is to live with it for a while and see what starts to bug me. Then do it again and fix those things.
And it’s always worth it. I get a better product and my skill set is stronger when I’m done.
That’s what I did with the helo shot I posted a few days ago. It looked good, but I knew it could be better. So I went back, cleaned up the original cut-out and put the wheels back in – after researching and establishing this machine flies with the wheels down.
This time around I’ll include the pieces I used to build it.
Here’s what I started with. This was shot in the hanger at the airport:
I cut the bird out and cleaned up some things:
I dropped in a great sunset cloud shot I took with my phone last summer:
Then I finished it:
- I copied the base image and dropped in a radial blur to add a sense of movement to the rotors. I adjusted the strength until I liked how it looked
- I painted out the body on the layer mask.
The effect was good, but I wanted a bit more volume so I didn’t completely lose the rotors.
- I copied the base image again and added a Gaussian blur. I adjusted it until I had the volume that felt right
- I pulled over the same layer mask I used in the Radial blue layer.
- Then I adjusted the opacity until it looked right
- Next, I added the Dodge/Burn layer. I add a blank layer, set the blend mode to Overlay and paint with black to darken or white to lighten with the brush opacity set to around 20%. After each stroke I adjust the stroke using the Fade Brush Tool (Edit/Fade Brush Tool). I don’t use the Dodge/Burn tool, I feel like I have more control this way. On more complex images I’ll set up different layers for Darken and Lighten, but I combined them on this one.
The sky was too blue. I wanted it to be a bit more dramatic, less pretty.
- I added a Black and White Adjustment layer to the sky layer and adjusted the Blue and Cyan sliders to adjust the contrast till I liked it.
- Then I painted out the B&W affect on the layer mask using a grey brush to bring some color back in.
- Then I added a Curves Adjustment layer to darken and increase the overall contrast.
Here’s the final layers panel:
And here’s the final image. Not dramatically different, but the little things make all the difference.