Add Depth To Photos Using Trash as a Light Modifier: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace


Hi everybody. Welcome to another episode of Exploring Photography right here on AdoramaTV. I’m Mark Wallace in Madrid, Spain in tactic studios, and today I’m going to first start with a very basic lighting setup with an exceptional model, her name is Anabel. Come on out and Anabel speaks zero english and I no hablo espanol at all… and so this is going to be exciting. Thank you for google translate! so what we’re gonna do is we’re going to begin with a very, very basic lighting set up, an umbrella that’s it, but i want to spice things up a little bit using basura… which is Spanish for trash! That’s right! I have literally taken some trash out of a trash can, and just chopped the bottom out of this translucent bowl. I guess we’re gonna use this as an unusual light modifier to spice things up, to change things from good, to a little bit better. So without further ado… let’s get started right now. All right… well we have our umbrella set up. This is gonna give us a nice soft light. It’s gonna give us images that aren’t bad but they’re just sort of boring, and so we need to build a foundation with this sort of boring setup. So it’s just a single umbrella, a beautiful model, and now I want to meter this, so I’m gonna give my little meter here to Anabel, and then she’s just gonna hold that under her chin. I’m gonna trigger this using my Propfoto remote. So I’ll click that, and that meter is at exactly at f/2.8, that’s exactly what I want, I want a nice shallow depth of field. So that later on when I’m using my trash, it’s out of focus, but let’s start with just our normal lighting setup. Just so you can see how that looks, well that is a pretty good lighting setup. If you have a fantastic model, which Anabel is, and so that is gonna work nine times out of ten. But I want to spruce things up just a little bit to get some unusual effects. I don’t want my images to look just like everybody else’s. What I’m going to do that … well my secret weapon… and that is this…. it’s a piece of trash! So all I did is, I took this little ball here, and I cut the bottom out, and so then I can put that in front of my lens. And it’s going to create some interesting effects. Now the key to this is I have metered at f/2.8, which means that when I put this in front of my lens, it’s gonna fall out of focus, and it’s not gonna be a piece of trash, it’s just gonna be some specular highlights, but this has no color, it’s just translucent. I want to add some color to this. So let me make some changes, and walk through exactly how this works. So let me just set things up really quickly, and then we’ll fine-tune things. So I have a secret weapon and that is this light right over here, now you’ve seen me… that’s a little bit heavy…. you’ve seen me throw a light into a lens to get lens flare a million times, but that is not what we’re doing here. What this light is doing, it’s got a blue gel on it. I could put a blue gel, or a red gel, or a green gel, or whatever I want, and that color is going to be hitting my little piece of trash. So that’s gonna be hitting the piece of trash, and the highlights of that are gonna change to whatever color this gel is. So you can use any kind of light, a speed light a fancy Profoto light. It doesn’t matter, just need something to throw some color onto this piece of trash. Anabel is in place, and our lighting setup is very simple, we have a Profoto medium sized umbrella, it’s giving us a nice soft light, but the key to this is this light right here. That’s got a blue gel you can use red or pink or whatever you want, to put some highlights on a piece of trash, and then that piece of trash needs to be translucent, and you place that right in front of your lens, and move it about to get different effects as you’re shooting your model. So as Annabelle is moving around, I’ll be doing this, and then based on how much I move I will get different effects inside of my lens and on the exposure, and because I’m using a really shallow depth-of-field. It will just show up as a blob. We have to do a bit of post-production to bring out all the goodness that our cameras captured. All the details that are in these files, and so what I’m going to do here is use the develop module in Adobe Lightroom, or you can use Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop. Either way this will work the same in both cases, so we’re going to be playing with our our radial filters. So again in the develop module… zip over to your radial filter… we’re going to apply two of these guys. So I’m going to click on the radial filter, and the first thing I want to do is change the exposure. So I’m going to click the effect.. choose ‘exposure’ and then I’m going to set that exposure to negative 1. So you can play with this on your files, but online about negative 1 works pretty well. I don’t want to change the exposure on Anabel’s face, so what I’m going to do here is… I’m going to click right on her face and then drag outwards, and you can see I’m leaving her face alone. I’m just changing the exposure on the outside of this filter, on the outside of this circle. So it’s darkening the edges, but it’s leaving her face alone. I can click and drag this around, just to make sure I don’t change the exposure too much on her hand, and her hair etc. Just the outside edges of this. It’s sort of like a vignette but it’s specific to the entire image, except her face, I want to do that again, except for this time, I want to add some more saturation. Again I don’t want to change the saturation on her face to make her skin look weird. I just want to really saturate these colors that we captured in the camera. So I’m going to zip over here. I’m going to click on new, and then the effect here is saturation. So I will click on saturation, and I want my saturation to really be saturated. So I’m going to take that up to around 70, and then again I’m going to click on Anabel’s face and drag outwards. So I’m going to go way out here, about like that I’m gonna drag this down just a little bit, again I’m keeping the saturation on her face. The same but I’m really saturating these colors outside of that. So we can see all that stuff, that was in the reflection of that little piece of trash. All right our two radio filters are finished, I’m going to click close a couple of the things that I want to do here. I am going to add a vignette, so I’m just gonna add a very small vignette… something about negative 20. Something around there… and this is going to add a nice burn around the edges, and you can see that’s really pulling some stuff out, and then to give this a little bit more filmic look. I’m going to add just a touch of grain so I’m going to bring that up to about 16, 17, the size you can play with. I’m gonna leave that to 20, 21, then the roughness about 15, that’s all there is to it. I’m going to hit the Y shortcut key, and you can see the before and after, just a couple of radial filters, a vignette, and some grain really makes a difference to our image. So let me show you how the rest of these images look. Well thank you so much for joining us for this episode of Exploring Photography, where we took this piece of trash and made it into an interesting light modifier, but I think our results had something to do with our fantastic model Anabel, and you can find her on Instagram at @anabelladb… Perfecto… and I put that right here so you can see exactly how to get her Instagram feed, It’s really pretty spectacular… Well thanks again for joining us… make sure you click subscribe, so you don’t miss a single episode. it’s free and turn on the bell so you get notifications. Thanks again, and we will see you again next time. Adios.

22 Replies to “Add Depth To Photos Using Trash as a Light Modifier: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace”

  1. Nice idea and effect. I think I would cut out the bottom of the dish so it does not degrade the centre of the image, the one you have looks very good optically but all may not be so good. Keep up the good work Mark, always look forward to your vids.

  2. Interesting but if I entered an image like that in our local camera club monthly company the judge would say the white blob was too prominent because it takes focus away from the subject and forces the eye to look at the brightest part of the image

  3. I have a question on the post. Could you have used a single radial tool and modified both exposure and saturation? Wondering why two radial filters placed in more or less the same place?

  4. I do this often when shooting concerts, except my favourite is to use a glass of beer. Hold the glass in front of the lens to a side and you can use it to get ride of things you don’t want. Adds warm tones which look almost like lens flares.

  5. Love Mark and all of his videos. Now the real question is : if I am a trash photographer, could I essentially use myself for more depth photos?

  6. it's better that take photos without subject and with black background and using blend mode in post processing. it is not true Mark?

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