Bring the Circus to Your Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

In this video I’ll show you how you can create the illusion of a large circus tent in a small home studio. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching AdoramaTV brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers. Today you join me in my small home studio and you might be wondering why am I so far off the center of the frame. Well today this is actually going to be the middle of my studio because I’m going to extend it double the size in that direction. Virtually. I’m going to create a shoot where it looks like somebody is waiting in the wings of a theatre, or in this case a circus. Now to do that I need a couple of things. First of all I need a curtain for them to look through, which is this but I’ve only got the one. Which is why we’re going to add the other side in Photoshop. So this is just a piece of cotton and we painted some red stripes to make it look kind of ‘circusy’. To light this curtain I have an Evolve 200 from Flashpoint and it is way up on my ceiling. In fact, it’s literally banging on the roof. That is in fairly close to the fabric so it beaming straight down will give me interesting down lighting and close will mean it picks up all of the texture from the fabric. Now, the rest of the studio is blacked out as much as I can. So I’ve got black all the way around here and the blacker you can make this area the better because this is where we’re going to extend it inside Photoshop and having black makes that process a lot easier but we’ll get to that in a little bit. Around the back we have another light and a smoke machine but I’ll talk about those as we go through the video. For now what we need to do is get a camera set and get shooting. Well before I actually get the model in there’s one thing I need to do, if I want my studio to look extra large I need two sets of curtains, except, I’ve only got one piece of fabric. So what I’ll do is, I’ll take a picture of this without the model and then I’ll Photoshop it on the other side and we’ll do that at the end of the video. So I’ve already metered this out for f/8. I’m going to pull the curtain back so it’ll look different on each side and then I’ll just take a picture like that. It’s also important that when I do this I have my camera on a tripod so when we Photoshop these two together that the curtains appear to be the same size and the same angle, that will save you a lot of time later on. So once again I’ve been joined by Beth who’s going to be the model for this shoot and as you can see she’s all set up as a showgirl which fits in with our circus theme. So let’s talk about the lights, we’ve already seen that we have a down light to light the curtains and if you get it right then it should light a bit of Beth as well which is a good thing. Then we’ve got the background. So out here is our stage. To create the optical illusion of depth I’m going to fill that area with smoke but if I just turn the smoke machine on you honestly wouldn’t see anything, you need to back illuminate the smoke. So around the back I have an Explorer 600 light from Adorama, that’s going to light the smoke. It’s quite a powerful light but I’m going to use it at a low power setting. Now before I start the smoke it’s really important you know what channel your background light is on because when you add smoke into the scene well all of your settings can go out of the window. So be prepared to increase or decrease the power of that background light once you start taking pictures. It’s a good idea to have your remote control and your backlight set to the same channel ready to go. Now, just before we fire the smoke, it’s worth saying I am working in my small home studio the minute we put the smoke machine on it will start to fill the studio and once the smoke starts coming towards the camera it may be that we have to stop taking pictures and clear the room of smoke. So my little tip is to use a very small amount of smoke to begin with and then add as you need. Don’t go filling the room in one go because trust me that’s going to make your life a lot more difficult. Okay so I think we’re ready. Okay let’s get some smoke in the scene. Let’s get shooting. There we go. So we got some absolutely fabulous shots there. The studio is now completely full of smoke. We’re going to get rid of the smoke, go into Photoshop and do a bit of post-processing. We’re going to do that right now. Extending my studio and adding the second curtain is a two-step process. The first thing I need to do is clean up the main image. So let’s start there. So this is an image I want to use and it has a problem that often happens with smoke. Smoke acts like a reflector and a diffuser and sometimes you light areas, like here and here, that you didn’t really want to. So I’m going to cover those in smoke by using the healing brush right here. Now, the healing brush is very straightforward to use, hold the ‘Alt’ key and click an area where you want the sample then let go of the ‘Alt’ key and just paint where you want it to go. That should create some really nice new smoke and just cover that part quite well. Then we’ll do the same down the curtains. Now, what I’m trying to do is make sure there is nothing in this shot that says ‘studio’. We’re trying to make this look like a big space, not a small space. So anything that gives it the feeling that this was taken in a small enclosed area I’m going to cover in smoke. That’s great, that’ll do for now. Next thing to do then is to make the whole thing a little bit bigger. To do that I need to make sure that the area I add is black in color. Remember we went to the trouble of trying to make this area generally black. So to get it black I’m going to swap my foreground and background colors over, just press ‘D’ followed by ‘X’ and that’s a nice keyboard shortcut to do the same thing. Then I’m going to jump over to the crop tool, make sure I have nothing in the width and height settings here, just click the ‘Clear’ button if there is and then I’m just going to drag out this left-hand side and I’m going to sort of drag out a little bit more room. Looks good. Then I’ll just click on the tick at the top, or press enter and that will commit to that change. Okay so I’ve added in the extra space and I’ve cleaned the image up. Now I’m ready to add in the curtain and complete the look of this shot. So the curtain picture right back at the beginning, there’s the picture I took right at the start. I’m going to go up to Select and then choose All and then I’m going to go to Edit and choose Copy, jump back to my main picture by clicking it, back to Edit again. This time I’ll choose Paste. When I paste it in, it’s clearly not right because I still have this black area here, in fact, the whole curtain is back to front. So to flip that over I’m going to go back to Edit once more, down to Transform. On Transform I’ll come across and down to find Flip Horizontally. To be honest, it would’ve been a lot easier if I had just moved the other side of the curtain but there we are. You live and learn. Move that across, it needs to go over to the side. It should snap in quite nicely but I still have this large black area here where we blocked out. Well we can’t see Beth anymore. So to return Beth to the picture I’m going to come up to the Layers, find the Blending Mode which is currently set to Normal and choose the Screen option instead. So that give me both images, the black disappears and I get the picture I want. Now, the purpose of making the black black right at the beginning was for that very reason. However, I can still see a distinct line here. I’m going to get rid of that line which is the join between the original picture and the extended canvas by using a brush. So I’m going to get a brush and I’ll make sure my foreground color this time it is black because that’s the color I want to paint. Over to my layers and make sure I’m working on the background layer. With a big soft brush just paint that area away. There you go, look at that. There we are. With a little bit of tweaking, a bit of vignetting and some fine-tuning there it is. My final picture is complete. Well, it just goes to show that even in a small studio space like this you can still think big and create some amazing images. If you’ve enjoyed this video please leave me a comment below and even better subscribe for more videos from myself and the other amazing presenters right here on AdoramaTV. I’m Gavin Hoey, thanks for watching.

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