Saturday, December 19, 2015

PhotoFriday - Light Calligraphy Shoot

Ok so let's talk about how I achieved this, There were multiple elements involved in getting this results as per the client's request.

- Location
- Light Calligraphy Style
- Font Color

- Location
GPP ( Client ) requested to have a backdrop of Dubai either modern with skyscrapers or the traditional Dubai culture. So my assistant and I went out to look for a suitable location a week before the shoot. We went through several location as seen in the pictures below.

First stop: Marina Beach with beautiful view of Dubai Marina skyscrapers in the background

2nd stop: Maydan bridge, the lights of the bridge were off when we visited that place so this location was a no go.

3rd stop: Heritage village with wind towers in the background

4th stop: Baktakiya, An ideal location for the background that goes well with Arabic calligraphy

We did a sample shoot in Dubai Marina but I didn't work out the way we expected as seen in the photos below, There were not enough reflections on the ground and It looked like Photoshop work.

First Shoot - Dubai Marina - Didn't work out the way we expected.

So we decided to head to Bastakiya and shoot there. Since it needed the permission to shoot so we waited the permission letter from the Dubai govt. Unfortunately we didn't get the permission to shoot. But we decided to head out there anyway and try our luck.

Location scouting - Bastakiya

On the day of the shoot, we went there early to scout the location and take some sample shots, Since tripod is not allowed without permission. We try to avoid using the giant tripod and kept the camera on mini tripod using elevated space around Bastakiya. 

Sample shoot - Bastakiya - The lighting conditions were not suitable for light calligraphy

After several tries and regular visits of the security guards around the area. We realised that it's almost impossible to shoot without permission. We had no choice but to head out to another location where there's no problem to shoot without permission. Next stop: Heritage Village.

When we reached there we found out that most of the area was closed down for renovation and there were barricades in almost all the areas where we thought we could shoot.

Luckily we met one of the security guards in the area and he suggested the elevated space from where we can shoot as it was the same place where other people try to shoot. We thought of giving it a try. When we reached there and Wola, The beautiful view of the heritage village welcomed us.

A beautiful view of Dubai Heritage village from an elevated location.
0.6 seconds - F8 - ISO 400 - 24mm (Canon 6D - 24-105mm f/4 USM lens)

Now the real problem was if we place a camera on tripod, there was not enough space for me to write "PhotoFriday". The only solution was that I climb the building in front of it with my lights to leave enough gap with the camera and myself. 

I normally write the calligraphy in one go and try to avoid using Photoshop for any reason to keep my work as it was shot. But after writing "PhotoFriday" in one go we realised that there was not enough time for me to finish the words without overexposing the background.

The solution was to get multiple exposure from the same location and later merge them into one using Photoshop. 

First Shot: The background as you can see on the photo above. 

2nd Shot: Writing the word "Photo" using Yellow LED light and not worrying about the background getting overexposed. 
32 seconds - F22 - ISO 400 - 24mm (Canon 6D - 24-105mm f/4 IS USM lens)

3rd Shot: Writing the word "Friday" using Yellow LED light and not worrying about the background getting overexposed. 
70 seconds - F22 - ISO 400 - 24mm (Canon 6D - 24-105mm f/4 IS USM lens)

I had the results I was looking for and I informed the GPP as well, It was time to head home and combine the images into one to complete the photo.

First Step: Opening all the 3 photos in Photoshop and keep the background image as the bottom layer. First layer being "Photo" and "Friday" on the 2nd layer. Let the cleaning begins.

First Step: I cleaned up the background from the layer "Photo" light calligraphy using brush tool on it to reveal the properly exposed background of the Heritage village. 

2nd Step: Clearing out the background image from the word "Friday" light calligraphy layer to reveal the properly exposed background image.

2nd Step: Clearing out the background image using brush tool to reveal the properly exposed background image. But the job here was not done, As you can see in the background the wind towers were not straight due to lens distortion at 24mm. To correct that I normally use Lightroom for that. Although Photoshop has lens correction but I find it much easier to do it in Lightroom. So at the final step. I open the image in the Lightroom. 

Final Step: After correcting the distortion and enhancing the background a little bit in Lightroom the photo was ready. The final was sent to GPP to add logos and dates. 

I hope you liked this post and read the process behind this image. Your feedback and comments are welcome. 

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