After arriving home from Carnival in Venice, Italy, it was time to work on my images in Photoshop. Besides simply processing the Raw files, I look for composite material that will allow me to come up with images unlike anyone else has. There are lots of photographers at carnival in Venice, and I like to create digital photos that are unique to my own way of seeing things.
© Jim Zuckerman
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I photographed this very unusual model on Burano Island, but because I was so close to her - the camera was about 15 inches from the mask - the background wasn't in focus. I could have used a tripod and f/32 for deep depth of field in digital photography, but with so many other people who wanted to photograph her from this bridge, I just didn't have that luxury to spread the legs of a tripod. Therefore, there was only one way to do it.
I took two pictures. I first focused on the model and took the picture, and then I re-focused on the background and took the second image of the colorful houses and the canal. I then used Photoshop to put the sharp background behind the model.
To do this, I used the pen tool in Photoshop CS4 (this tool is not available in Elements, and for those of you who use Elements, the lasso tool can be used instead of the pen tool to precisely cut out subjects). The pen tool is the most exacting method to select any subject. Many people are intimidated by this tool, but it's quite easy to use. It simply allows you to lay down a line of dots around the subject. I work at 300% and place the dots precisely where I want them.
When you complete the "circuit", click on the paths palette and then in the upper right corner of that palette use the small tab to pull down a submenu and find 'make selection'. In the dialog box that opens, I chose one pixel as the feather radius and clicked OK. The model was now selected, and at this point it was a simple matter to paste the background in.
Finally, I pasted in some stormy clouds to replace a boring and distracting white sky. The sky was perfect to provide soft and diffused lighting on the model, but it didn't look good as part of the background.
Note the eyes of the model. She was wearing pink contact lenses. It looked truly incredible, and I feel it adds mystery and intrigue to the picture.
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