I decided to stay away from the typical Xmas portrait and instead take some more radical shots of the kids doing what kids do best... playing.
Here's the first in a series of 3 portraits. Middle son Tim who got a skateboard for Xmas.
Here's how I shot this.
Put him in the sun which was lighting him from the back (see shadows on the ground in background).
I sat on the ground with my 12-24mm lens... set at 12mm. My other son held my Nikon SB600 flash that was connected by a cable... He was about 1 foot to my left (almost opposite the sun).
Tim did a few jumps and it wasn't too hard to capture him in mid flight. I wanted the flash to punch in very hard and very low... I wasn't after a soft portrait.
I did a dual conversion (one for clouds and one for Tim)
and then blended the two images together (in much the same way as I did the Martian rock processing described in detail earlier.
I colour corrected for the blue of the flash using curves (I found a really cool "recipe" for colour balancing skin tones... works like a treat). If anyone is interested, drop me a note and maybe I'll post the recipe here.
Then I merged the visible layers into a new composite layer (create new layer) then highlight this layer and "Merge Visible" Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E
Then I did a Bleach bypass effect to create the edgy look. To create this effect, the first step is to do a black and white conversion and put this b&w image on the top of layer stack. Use whatever B&W conversion method you prefer. I used Alien Skin Exposure.
Then change the blend mode of this B&W layer to overlay.... It will make the image look very edgy. You can then use the opacity slider to reduce the amount of this effect. I also used a bit of masking to reduce the effect from some of the corners (it was darkening them too much).
After that I duplicated the layer and blurred it using Gaussian Blur and then used a mask to only apply the blur to the background. I used a Gaussian Blur setting of 5 pixels. This blurring of the background further separates Tim from the background.
Final step was to apply a concrete texture to the blurred background. I went to this very cool free texture site and chose a concrete texture that I liked. Added the texture in as a new layer and then used the free transform function to stretch it to fit my picture (they are a bit small in their original form).
Once the texture is added I just changed the layer blend mode to "overlay", apply a mask and paint with a black brush to reduce the texture on his face, arms and legs and then reduced the opacity slider on the concrete layer until the effect is not too strong.
I then created some dramatic vignetting by adding a levels adjustment layer and dragging the mid-point slider to the right (so that it read a value of 50).
This makes your whole image look like crap, so to fix this invert your mask (Ctrl+I) now your mask is all black and you can just paint with white on your mask where you would like your vignette effects to appear.
Final step was to apply some sharpening (I use Nik Sharpener).
Stay tuned for portrait number 2... Eldest son Ben playing Guitar Hero III.