A Photo Teacher |

HyperReal

Posted in PHOT 256 by Paul Turounet on February 11, 2010

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Hyperreality is a means to characterise the way our consciousness defines what is actually “real” in a world where a multitude of media, including places of virtual reality (video games, Avatars,…) and artificial reality (Las Vegas, Disneyland,…), can radically shape and filter an original event or experience.

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The rapid development of technology in photography and its relationship to a post-modern lens culture is transforming our perceptions of what is real and what is simulated for our consciousness to believe as real.  Megapixels and Photoshop are just a few technological strategies providing photographers the means to extend their vision into the hyperreal world where what is real is transformed into something of artificial simulation and reproduction so as to be perceived and emotionally engaged as the real experience.

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Imaging sensors and their seemingly endless ability to capture more and more visual information are allowing photographers to create photographic imagery with such detailed description and sharpness that goes way beyond what the human eye can even consider and perceive as a reality.  Not only is this perceived reality being produced in-camera, but also in post-production, with the digital transformation of what people and places look like and what we think and/or desire them to simulate.  Consider the retouching of models’ appearances for the covers of magazines and other digital manipulations that take place now as accepted practices of our contemporary visual culture.

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Assignment

As a jumping-off point, consider the work of Jill Greenberg and the hyperreal appearance of her subjects as a result of her visual and technical strategies.

Working in teams of 2 to 3 people, shoot head-shot portraits of each other using the Mamiya 645 medium-format camera with the Leaf Digital Back and the studio lighting set-up (see diagram for general lighting ratios) to create images that challenge our understanding of the hyperreal and the photographic portrait.

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Requirements

For the critique (see Calendar for Due Date) and evaluation, please complete the following:

Optimize one of the digital files from the studio shoot, including sizing, image density | contrast | color balance | hue/saturation and retouching.  The exported image | file size from the Leaf Digital Back into Photoshop should be at least 50 inches x 65 inches at 300 ppi with the file size being approximately 800 mb.

1 – 8-1/2″ x 11″ proof print on Epson Premium Luster to check image density | contrast | color balance | hue/saturation and retouching.  Show the proof print for approval to proceed in making the larger print.

1 – 17″ x 22″ finished photographic print made in the Grossmont College Digital Photography Lab from the Epson 4880 pigment printer and the roll of Epson Premium Luster material.  The finished prints will be hung for display in the rollup window and front window of the studio.  If possible, a selection of images will be printed, roughly 4 feet x 6 feet, from the Epson 9600 Wide-Format Pigment Printer for a site-specific installation in the Library | Tech Mall windows on campus.

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Double-click on image to enlarge

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Post-Processing Tutorial

Before (left) and After Post-Processing (right)

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Create Grayscale Layer for Use of High Pass Filter

Click on Image to Enlarge

Create Background Copy Layer – Convert to Grayscale | Layer > Duplicate Layer of Background

Use Image > Adjustments > Black & White or Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation to convert layer from color to grayscale

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Click on Image to Enlarge

Use High Pass Filter | Filter > Other > High Pass and adjust radius of pixels.  Using a higher radius will provide for a greater degree of contrast and edge sharpness.

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Adjust Layer Mode to Hard Light and/or Soft Light and Level of Opacity for desired look of contrast for either a harder and/or softer level of contrast and edge sharpness.

Flatten Layers

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Technique for Smoothing Skin

Click to Enlarge Image

Create Background Copy Layer – Skin Smoothing | Layer > Duplicate Layer of Background

It’ll be necessary to use a blurring technique to create the look of smooth skin | Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and adjust radius of pixels for desired level of blur

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Create layer mask on Background Copy | Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All

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Click to Enlarge Image

With the Foreground Color set to White, select the Paint Brush (using a Soft Round brush with the Opacity set at 25%) and paint on the Layer Mask (black box) on the Background Copy layer to reveal areas of the Gaussian Blur.

Flatten Layers

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Dodge Highlight Areas and/or Burn Shadow Areas for Additional Contrast

Create Background Copy Layer – Dodge Highlights (or Burn Shadows) | Layer > Duplicate Layer of Background

Highlights | Select the Dodge Tool (using a Soft Round brush with the Exposure set between 5 – 10% and with Highlights selected), dodge on the on the Background Copy layer to lighten select highlight areas

Shadows | Select the Burn Tool (using a Soft Round brush with the Exposure set between 5 – 10% and with Shadows selected), burn on the on the Background Copy layer to darken select shadow areas

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Change Background Color

Using a Selection Tool, select and isolate Background from rest of image

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Create Color Balance Layer or Hue/Saturation Layer to adjust / change color | Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance or Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation

Flatten Layers

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Change Hat Color

Using a Selection Tool, select and isolate hat (or any other desired area) from rest of image

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Create Color Balance Layer or Hue/Saturation Layer to adjust / change color | Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance or Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation

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Finished Image

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The background was selected to create a smoother transition with the use of the Surface Blur.  With most of the post-processing complete, the image can be fine-tuned in terms of overall density, contrast, color balance and saturation as well as any final retouching prior to printing.

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