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Posts Tagged ‘Star’

Photographer Dad creates epic Star Wars Christmas card for his family

07 Dec

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Photographer Josh Rossi is no stranger to creating epic photography for and of his family. His portraits of his daughter as Wonder Woman swept across the Internet like wildfire, and he’s continued doing amazing work, including this touching series where he transformed disabled kids into Justice League superheroes.

So why did he let some run-of-the-mill “family photographer” take last year’s Christmas pictures for him!?

He didn’t know either. In fact, he felt deeply ashamed by this lapse in judgement, and so he set to work creating something amazing to redeem himself this Holiday season. Cue Star Wars theme.

“I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and my wife has been asking me to do some pictures of us so I went all out this year for our family photos,” Rossi tells DPReview. And by all-out, he means he recreated the Star Wars: The Last Jedi posters featuring himself, his wife, and their two children instead of the lead actors.

“I had such a fun time doing this with my family,” he told us, “especially with my 1 year old.”

Rossi sent over a few behind the scenes images for us (below) and you can see the final shots in the gallery at the top.

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To see more of Rossi’s work, or if you just want to say hello and kudos for another really creative and well-executed project, head over to his website or give him a follow on Instagram and Facebook.


All photographs by Josh Rossi and used with permission.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Why Lightroom Keywords and Star Ratings are Important for Your Photography Workflow

23 Nov

Lightroom has long been the “go-to” program for organizing images and has come into its own as an editing powerhouse as well. If you haven’t been using Lightroom for organizing your images, you are missing a big part of the digital photography pie. The secret to your organization success in Lightroom is using keywords and star ratings effectively.

Why Lightroom KeyWords and Star Ratings are Important for Your Photography Workflow

That doesn’t mean that you need to keyword every last image you import into Lightroom. But you can label batches of images and then eventually cull down the keywords to easily find your best images. With over 30,000 images in my Lightroom catalog, I’m pretty happy about being able to find an image in a matter of seconds with the use of this simple system. It’s well-suited for beginners and combines keywords and star ratings.

Set up a consistent naming system for your folders and images

For example, a file name could be; “Iceland_2015_03”.

Many people name their folders by date or location. I prefer location, then date, as it’s much easier for me to remember that way. Whatever naming system you use, just be sure that it’s consistent, and makes sense to you. If you decide “Location_Year_Month” is the best way for you to set it up, make sure that every folder is done the same way.

For example, these folder titles could fall into the Iceland_2015_03 category. Don’t make the mistake of creating random titles like this: Winter 2015, Iceland 2015, Iceland March 2015, Reykjavik 03_2015.

When you first import your images into Lightroom, you can rename the whole set of images, or rename them after import. It is much faster and easier to rename them upon import. Follow the import prompts and enter as much information as you can when you first are bringing images into Lightroom. It will save you loads of time later on.

keywords upon Lightroom Import - Why Lightroom Keywords and Star Ratings are Important for Your Photography Workflow

I usually keep the original file number of the image assigned in-camera and then add the location or another identifying label to the front end of the name. You can batch rename and keyword a series of images in the import module. You don’t have to keyword each image individually, but keyword in batches to make it easier.

My other secret tool is the star rating tool. When the images are first imported, I cull through the images quickly and add a one-star rating to the images that I would like to come back and edit. At this point, I don’t try and add any more stars than just a simple one-star.

Use the Paint Can Tool in Develop

Another easy way to add ratings to an image after import is to use the “Paint Can tool”. With this tool, you can set a parameter (like a star rating, keyword, or set of keywords) to “spray” on to an image or a collection of images. If you would like to “spray” a star to your favorite images, this is a fast way to do it.

The Paint Can tool is located on the bottom left of the grid view and it looks like a spray can. Click on it and you will see a selective panel, choose “rating”. After you select “rating”, on the right side of that panel is a series of dots. Click on one of those dots, and it will turn into a star.

Why Lightroom KeyWords and Star Ratings are Important for Your Photography Workflow

Paint Can Tool

Then you can quickly go through your images in the grid view and “spray” a one-star rating on all of the images that you like. At this point, don’t apply any more than a rating.

If something really merits a better star rating, go back and review the images again. Once you do your second pass of the images, set the spray can to a 2-star rating. Then repeat the same method for those images that you might like to go in and apply Lightroom adjustments.

Paint-Tool-Label

You can also use it to paint in a color label, flat, metadata or any of these things.

Reserve the 3-star ratings for those images that you might use for an article or blog post and the 4-star ratings are only reserved for the best of the best which you would put in your portfolio. Keep your star ratings consistent, so you know that if an image has a 4-star rating, that it reflects your best work.

Now that you have set up the keywords and star ratings to your images, you have the ability to search or filter images in your catalog. In the Filter Bar in the Grid View, choose the Text option and the drop down box to select keywords, and start entering specific keywords.

Using the Spray Can tool to add metadata

The Spray Can tool can be used for a variety of options to add information to your images. You can “spray” not only star ratings but keywords, metadata information, labels, presets, or assign target collection images.

The next option is to add a series of keywords to your images. We already know that the files you are importing will be from Iceland. Use that as the keyword that applies to all of these images. Then consider where you were on your trip to Iceland. Are your images from the North Coast or the South Coast? Do you have pictures from Reykjavik? Do you have images from Vik? Who is in the images?

The idea here is to start out broad and then narrow your focus. Perhaps your whole shoot is from Iceland. Perhaps another broad category would be winter, ice, or arctic.

Select the Spray Can tool and go to the drop-down menu to the right of the icon. Select “keyword” and enter the word or words you would like to apply. “Spray” your series of images that are from the North Coast and apply that keyword. Change your keyword, and then spray your series of images that are from the South Coast. Continue to narrow down your focus. Then spray just those images from the South Coast that were taken in Vik and so on.

What Keywords Should You Use?

The keywords you should apply will depend on what you would like to use your images for in the future. Are you submitting to a stock agency? Are these images for personal use only? When will you use the images?

The best plan for creating keywords would be to apply basic information that will remind you about the subject, in order to help with locating images later. Start your keywording upon import and use the broadest subject that will apply to all of the images, and then narrow down your keyword focus.

Once you have started to create keywords, Lightroom will suggest keywords that might work with the current set of images in the Keywording panel. The suggested keywords help you to create cohesive words that can be used on multiple sets of images.

Notice at the bottom of the Keywording panel, there is an area with keyword sets. Lightroom automatically gives you some presets to use in this module. Click on the keyword set for “outdoor photography” and see the keywords that are suggested. If there are keywords you would rather use, right-click on the down arrow of the keyword set and you will see the option to “edit set” where you can add and remove words from that set.

The list of keywords from the preset will come up and you can add or subtract those keywords that apply to your images. Then, when you are keywording a certain genre of photography, you can select your keyword set of “outdoor photography” or “portrait photography” and rapidly choose from those sets of keywords. This will also prevent you from creating multiple keywords that mean the same thing. This is useful when you are using specific keywords to search for an image.

Use the Filter Bar to find images

Why Lightroom KeyWords and Star Ratings are Important for Your Photography Workflow

Then you will see Lightroom begin to sort images based on the keywords you entered. You can then add another dimension to the search, and a star rating.

This is when you can go back into your Lightroom catalog of 30,000 pictures to find the 4-star rated image in “Iceland” that has a keyword “Eagle Rock”, and find it in a second. Then you’ll see how great this system works. You can also limit your search to specific folders or collections when those are selected in the left-hand column of the Library Module.

Have you tried to organize your images in Lightroom? What kind of naming system works for you? What kind of challenges are you experiencing? Feel free to share your comments below.

The post Why Lightroom Keywords and Star Ratings are Important for Your Photography Workflow by Holly Higbee-Jansen appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Analysis: The Sony a7R III is still a star eater

21 Nov

We sent some files to our friend Jim Kasson for analysis, and he confirms that the Sony a7R III is definitely still a Star Eater, despite several claims to the contrary that have been published online over the past week.

Looking at Kasson’s graphs, one can clearly see the noise reduction kick in near Nyquist in Kasson’s energy plots. Indeed, in our own shots of the stars with the a7R III and latest a7R II (firmware v3.00 and above), our final files only show stars that are larger than one pixel with a few neighboring pixels: suggesting that smaller stars are indeed ‘eaten’ or dimmed due to a spatial filtering algorithm.

At a 3.2-second exposure, the ‘spacial filtering’ (Star Eater) is very mild, and won’t affect your stars.
But as soon as you hit 4-seconds, spacial filtering kicks in big time, causing the same Star Eater problems that was seen in the a7R II

This is a missed opportunity for Sony, and something dedicated astrophotographers will want to consider when deciding between the a7R III and other options that don’t have this same issue (a Nikon D850 for example). Other photographers happy with the number of stars still in their shots simply won’t care.

We’ll drop in one of our sample photos shortly for your pixel-peeping pleasure. But for now, we can say this with confidence: while a lot of stars still survive ‘Star Eater’, the a7R III continues the trend of noise reduction that dims or erases small stars at exposure longer than 3.2s.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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First look at upcoming Pentax ‘star series’ lenses and silver edition K-1

27 Oct

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

Ricoh is showing off two upcoming lenses at the Photo Plus Expo show in New York this week. The HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW is designed for full-frame cameras, while the HD Pentax-DA* 11-18mm F2.8 is intended to be paired with the company’s APS-C DSLRs.

We weren’t able to get our hands on the new lenses, sadly – they’re still under glass – but we’re told that they’re cosmetically near-final. Click through for a closer look.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

We’ve known about the HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW for a while, but the last time we saw it (also under glass) it was little more than a lens-shaped lump of plastic. Things have advanced since then, and the copy on show here appears to be a working prototype.

The upcoming 50mm is one of a new generation of ‘star series’ lenses that Ricoh intends for high-resolution imaging with its flagship K-1 and (presumably) follow-up full-frame models.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

The 50mm F1.4 will come with a generously proportioned lens hood. The ‘AW’ in the designation stands for ‘All Weather’ and denotes environmental sealing, which should mean that like the K-1, it will stand up to use in harsh conditions.

A new ring-type SDM autofocus drive promises fast, quiet focusing. Pricing has yet to be announced, but the new 50mm should be available in spring of next year.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

Meanwhile, the HD Pentax-DA* 11-18mm F2.8 is intended to be paired with the company’s APS-C DSLRs, and covers an effective focal length range of ~17-28mm. The fast maximum aperture of F2.8 is fixed across the zoom range, and while it hasn’t been spelled out anywhere, the sample on show appears to feature a switch for optical image stabilization, covered in black tape.

This would be a bit odd, given that Pentax’s DSLRs are stabilized in-body but could point towards hybrid stabilization. The alternative explanation (and probably more likely) is that it’s either a zoom lock or simply a vestigial bump which will be removed in shipping lenses.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

Beyond the usual hyperbole (photographers should be able to ‘effortlessly capture breathtaking landscapes’ with this lens, apparently) details of the exact specification are sparse. Along with the mystery switch, the focus scale has also been obscured.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

No pricing information has been shared, but we’re told that the 11-18mm will be available next summer.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

Here’s the new K-1 ‘Silver Edition’, announced in August. This special edition of Ricoh’s flagship full-frame DSLR features a special silver coating, to match the silver versions of Pentax Limited lenses.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

This is the kind of thing that often looks great in manufacturer-supplied renderings, but a bit tacky in real life. We’re pleased to see that in person, the silver K-1 looks pretty classy.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

A special silver hotshoe cover is an especially nice touch. The K-1 silver edition is limited to 2000 copies worldwide.

First look at upcoming Pentax 50mm F1.4 and 11-18mm F2.8 lenses

Alongside its conventional cameras and lenses, Ricoh is also showing off its new Theta V 360-degree camera, which improves on the original model with much better resolution and advanced video features. Learn more about the Ricoh Theta V

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Star Crossed: 10 More Abandoned Observatories

01 Oct

[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

These closed and abandoned astronomical observatories once gazed skyward into a star-spangled universe, revealing hidden wonders of time and space. Once.

You’ll typically find observatories atop the highest mountains, mainly because there’s less air to see through up there. Smaller countries with smaller mountains do the best they can, as is the case with this abandoned observatory (or old radar station, depending on the source) slowly deteriorating high up on Portugal’s aptly named Serra da Estrela (“Star Mountain Range”).

Case Western University Observatory, Ohio

Flickr member David Barnas (Dark Spot Photography) perfectly captures the lonely majesty of abandoned observatories in the above image. This breathtaking photo dates from May of 2013 and offers a unique view of the dome of one of Case Western University’s now-disused observatories.

Lick Observatory, California

Lick Observatory encompasses a number of telescopes and other related observing tools protected by structural domes of various ages and sizes. With construction atop Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California beginning in 1876, Lick Observatory boasts individual observatories in current use, temporarily closed and outright abandoned pending demolition. Flickr members Kelly The Deluded (kjoyner666) and Panoramio user Nick Sower captured what appears to be the 20-Inch Carnegie Double Astrograph in need of a new paint job – at the very least.

City Observatory, Edinburgh, Scotland

The venerable City Observatory on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland dates back to 1818 and provided stalwart scientific service for nearly two centuries – the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh moved out of the observatory in 2009. Since then, the buildings have been managed by the City of Edinburgh Council, who restored the interior decor but then rented out the rooms as holiday accommodations. Flickr member Jenni Douglas (photojenni) snapped the interior of one of the observatory’s domes in May of 2007.

Crimea, Ukraine

Russia’s hotly-contested annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine was still six years away when Flickr member Max Bashyrov (movaxdx) snapped the above image of “some kind of abandoned observatory.” With all that visible rust, we’ll have to assume it was formerly engaged in observing Mars, the Red Planet.

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Star Crossed 10 More Abandoned Observatories

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[ By Steve in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

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Disney’s Star Wars Hotel Will Make Each Guest a Character with a Storyline

20 Jul

[ By SA Rogers in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

Fans visiting Disney World’s upcoming Star Wars Land expansion, set to open in 2019, will have the opportunity to immerse themselves even more deeply into the fictional universe in an almost Westworld-style experience. At its D23 Expo in Los Angeles this week, Disney announced a new Star Wars-themed hotel where every window will offer views of ‘outer space,’ every employee will be in character, and every guest will be the protagonist of their very own Star Wars storyline.

Premiering as part of the new Disney 360 vacation concept, the hotel will be a ‘living adventure.’

“It’s unlike anything that exists today,” says Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. “From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”

Disney also unveiled models of the new park along with its name, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The park will also be an interactive experience with each guest as a character – so you don’t have to stay in the resort to enjoy that aspect of the action, but it certainly seems like it would add to the overall effect.

“One attraction will make you feel like you’re on a Star Destroyer inside a hangar bay. It’s an attraction built on a scale we’ve never done before.

The second attraction will give guests the opportunity to fly the Millenium Falcon, piloting the ship, shooting blasters or preparing for hyperspace – all while completing a critical mission. But how you perform on the mission holds even bigger stakes: perform with skill and you may earn extra galactic credits, while bringing the ship back banged up could put you on the list of a bounty hunter. End up on Harkos’s list and you may face a problem if you show up at the local cantina!”

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[ By SA Rogers in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

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Like A Rock Star: 12 Iconic Movie Corvettes

03 Jul

[ By Steve in Culture & History & Travel. ]

The Chevrolet Corvette’s long list of silver screen starring roles turned America’s first mass-produced sports car into an automotive pop culture icon.

One of the Corvette‘s first film appearances was in the 1955 film noir classic Kiss Me Deadly. Directed by Robert Aldrich, the movie starred Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane’s hard-boiled private investigator Mike Hammer. The latter roamed the mean streets of Los Angeles in his 1954 Corvette, one of only 3,640 manufactured that year and one of only FOUR painted black.

Hammer’s black ‘vette may have looked cool but performance was anything but hot due to the pedestrian Stovebolt Six engine under its fiberglass hood. GM introduced a V8 for 1955 but limited model year production to just 700 in order to move the rest of the slow-selling ’54s. Even so, Hammer’s sleek (for the times) ride definitely added badly-needed panache to a niche model whose future was very much in doubt.

True Lies – 1959 Corvette

True Lies, a 1994 action-adventure-comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Tia Carrere, Bill Paxton, Eliza Dushku, and even Charlton Heston has aged rather well. Ditto for the red 1959 Corvette driven by Paxton (playing sleazy used car salesmen Simon) as he regales AH-nold on his time-tested seduction technique: “Let’s face it, Harry, the ‘Vette gets ’em wet.”

Clambake – 1959 Corvette XP-87 Stingray Racer

“Hey buddy, where’s the gas cap on this thing?” Built in 1959 “to test handling ease and performance,” the Corvette XP-87 racer won an SCCA National Championship in 1960. It was then modified with the addition of a passenger seat and made the rounds of the auto show circuit.

The XP-87 bowed out in grand style, appearing in the 1967 film Clambake as the private car of Elvis Presley’s oil tycoon character. Thank you, XP-87, thank you very much.

Heavy Metal – 1960 Corvette

“You can hedge your bet on a clean Corvette”… Heavy Metal – the 1981 animated sci-fi fantasy film produced by Ivan Reitman and inspired by the eponymous graphic magazine, featured a 1960 Corvette but if you arrived a few minutes late to the movie theater, you probably missed it.

Here’s a link to the ‘vette’s impressive entrance (dude totally sticks the landing!) in which it literally brings evil to the world in the form of the glowing green loc-nar. Mustang owners most definitely approve.

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Like A Rock Star 12 Iconic Movie Corvettes

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How to Use the Star Walk 2 App for Milky Way Photography

28 Jun

Photographing the Milky Way is unlike any other kind of photography. The camera settings are completely different, as are the post-processing techniques, and there’s a lot more planning that goes into a successful outing than people (who haven’t done it before) realize.

How to Use the Star Walk 2 App for Milky Way Photography

The Milky Way over Half Dome in Yosemite NP, shot from Glacier Point.

The trick is how to find the Milky Way

You see, finding the location of the Milky Way in our sky is always changing. In the northern hemisphere the best time to photograph the Milky Way is in the late spring to early fall. It isn’t even visible during most of winter because it’s only above the horizon during the day when we can’t see the stars. And of course in the southern hemisphere, everything above is reversed.

How to Use the Star Walk 2 App for Milky Way Photography

The Milky Way over a group of oak trees in San Luis Obispo, California.

When the Milky Way is visible, it’s hard to know when it will be in peak position and in which direction (north, south, east, or west) it will be visible. Then there’s the question of whether or not it will be rising straight up from a certain direction or appear as an arc across the sky.

Plan your trip accordingly

All of the answers to these questions will, of course, determine what foreground subjects you can use at any given time of the year. For example, if you’re trying to shoot Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, you’ll need the Milky Way to be visible in the northeast sky. Plus, you need it there at a time of night when the moon is either beneath the horizon or during a moon phase where the light from the moon will be minimal. If it’s a full moon for example, the Milky Way and night sky will be considerably dimmer than say during a new or crescent moon.

How to Use the Star Walk 2 App for Milky Way Photography

The Milky Way over Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah.

As you can see, there are a lot of variables. That’s where the app Star Walk 2 comes in.

I found this app years ago when it was in its first incarnation, and still use it today for most of my night sky photography planning. This app is beautifully designed and will let you know exactly when and where the Milky Way will be at any given time, along with every other star and constellation in the sky. It’s an incredible resource for photographers. I created a video showing how I use it.

Have a look below and let me know what you think.

Conclusion

I know there are other options and apps that do similar things available as well, so comment below and tell us what you use. I’m always open to trying new things and would love to hear them.

You can find the Star Walk 2 app in the Google Play Store for Android and on iTunes for Apple devices.

The post How to Use the Star Walk 2 App for Milky Way Photography by James Brandon appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Star Gazing – 18 Twinkly Images of the Celestial Sky

14 Feb

Recently we introduced our new Night Photography course by dPS writer Jim Hamel. Learn more about this brand new course here, so you can take stunning night photos too!


Photography of the night sky and the stars can be challenging but rewarding. If you do it right you can end up with images like these:

Stars

By Kris Williams

By Tom Davidson

By Paul Weeks

By Chris Gin

By Bureau of Land Management

By Diana Robinson

By Shannon Dizmang

By Bill Dickinson

By Jimmy

By Howard Ignatius

By sian monument

By Jeff Krause

By Michiluzzu

By Olli Henze

By Olli Henze

By Julien NKS

By Tom Davidson

By Tralphe XY

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The post Star Gazing – 18 Twinkly Images of the Celestial Sky by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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How to Turn Your Kids into Star Wars Characters Using Photoshop

10 Feb

Do your kids love Star Wars? Do you love photography? If so, here’s a great opportunity to join forces and turn your kids into Star Wars heroes or villains by giving them the ultimate Star Wars weapon, the lightsaber.

How to Turn Your Kids into Star Wars Characters Using Adobe Photoshop

All you need to awaken the force are these three steps:

  1. The setup
  2. Capturing the shot
  3. Light up your sabers using Photoshop

BONUS tip – The Jumping Jedi

Step #1 – The Setup

For the setup, you will want to make sure that the photographs of your kids look as close to a Star Wars scene as possible. Don’t just take a picture of your kids wearing a t-shirt standing in the kitchen. Luke Skywalker doesn’t light up his lightsaber in a kitchen. Your kids will have a lot of fun getting into character, so spend some time on the setup.

Costumes

You can buy costumes for your kids on Amazon. Here are the costumes used in this tutorial.

  • Luke Skywalker
  • Rey
  • Kylo Ren
  • Lightsabers
  • Total customs cost ~ $ 40-70

Location

For the location, you will want to find a place that looks like it could be a scene in any of the Star Wars movies. The easiest location to use would be a park with trees, and no noticeable man-made objects in sight.

2 Location - How to Turn Your Kids into Star Wars Characters Using Adobe Photoshop

Step #2 – Capturing the Shot

Action shots

For action shots of a lightsaber battle, you will want to use a fast shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second, and set your camera to continuous (burst) shooting mode. This will allow you to freeze the action of the battle and take multiple shots in sequence to ensure you capture the best of the action.

4 Action shot - How to Turn Your Kids into Star Wars Characters Using Adobe Photoshop

Shutter speed was 1/800th of a second.

Portraits

For the portraits, give your kids some epic poses to follow. To give you ideas for creative poses, do a Google images search for the Star Wars character of your choice. This will also help your child get more into the character. For example here are some for Rey.

5 Portrait pose - How to Turn Your Kids into Star Wars Characters Using Adobe Photoshop

Do basic edits to the image

After you capture the image, you will need to make a few adjustments to the image to make it stand out. This can be done in Adobe Lightroom and is the final step before your photo is ready to go into Photoshop for the lightsaber effect.

For the look of Star Wars, a few basic edits, such as increasing the contrast and the clarity will help give it a rough and grungy look that Star Wars is known for.

6 Before After Lightroom Edit Star Wars

Notice the differences between the before and after of this image by making a few basic edits in Adobe Lightroom.

Step #3 – Light your sabers up in Photoshop

Adding the lightsaber effect is the last and final step in making turning your kid into the Star Wars character of their dreams. This process should take about five minutes per photo once you have done it a few times.

Part 1: Prepare the layer

Start by creating a duplicate layer by pressing CTRL/CMD + J.

8 Duplicate layer - Star Wars character in Photoshop

Select the icon to create a new fill or adjustment layer, and from that menu select Hue/Saturation. Then, move the lightness slider to -100 to make it black.

9 Hue Saturation

Select CTRL/CMD + E to merge the adjustment layer and duplicate layer. Next, set the blending mode drop down to Screen.

10 merge and screen Star Wars

At this point, your layers are prepped and ready to add the lightsaber.

Part 2: Add the lightsaber by using the brush tool

Select the brush tool, and adjust the size and hardness of the brush. The size of your brush will vary based on the size of the lightsaber and your image. Set the hardness of the brush to approximately 50%.

11 brush selection

Begin to add your lightsaber using brush strokes. Select the end point of the lightsaber, then hold down shift, and click the other end of the lightsaber to draw a straight line. Repeat these lines multiple times to fill in the lightsaber with brush strokes. You will likely need to add free-form brush strokes around the base of the lightsaber to fill it in.

12 draw the saber

Illuminate the lightsaber

The next step allows you to illuminate the lightsaber. Create three duplicate layers of the lightsaber by selecting CTRL/CMD + J three times. For each layer, you will then select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. But, each layer will be set to a different radius setting. For this image, we used 5, 15, 35, 75 for each respective layer. Note, that the amount of Gaussian Blur needed may vary based on the size of your image. Adjust these numbers as needed to ensure you have a nice glow from the lightsaber.

13 Gausian Blur

Select all of the duplicate layers (do not select the background), and merge them into one layer by pressing CTRL/CMD + E. Then set the blending mode to Screen.

14 Merge and Screen

Add color to the lightsaber

It’s now time to add color to your lightsaber. Select the icon to create a new fill or adjustment layer, and choose the option for Color Balance. Activate the clipping mask so that you only add color to the lightsaber, not the entire image. You can choose any color of your choice, but in this example, we are working with green.

You will want to add the color selection to each option for Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights. Adjust the color slider up or down based on the color preferences for your lightsaber. For this photo, we set shadows, midtones, and highlights to green at around +65.

15 Color Lightsaber

Your lightsaber is now complete, but there is still one more important step to get a realistic photo. You need to add some glow to the subject from the illumination coming off of the lightsaber.

Part 3: Add the reflective glow from the lightsaber

Select the background or base layer. Click the icon to create a new fill or adjustment layer, and choose the option for Color Balance. Choose the same color as you used for your lightsaber, but this time as you adjust the color for Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights, it will work best if you emphasize the color around the highlights more than the shadows or Midtones. For this photo, we used Shadows +32, Midtones +38, and Highlights +70

16 Color for Glow

Add a vector mask and then select CTRL/CMD + I to hide all of the color balance. Select the brush tool, and make it a soft edge brush with an opacity around +18. This will allow you to brush in a soft reflection of glow to parts of the image that make it look realistic.

17 Brush in glow reflection

Bonus – Jumping Jedi

A bonus tip that you may want to use in your Star Wars photo shoot is a jumping Jedi. With a few simple tricks, you can give the illusion of your Jedi jumping high into the air over a swinging lightsaber.

First, make sure you use a tripod as you will need the camera to be completely stationary for two different shots. You can have your Jedi jump off a chair at the same time that his enemy swings his lightsaber. Then remove the chair and capture a shot of the exact same scene, but this time without the chair or characters in the shot (tripod use is important for image alignment later).

The second shot should be empty with the exception of the background because it will allow you to take the chair out of the original picture to create the illusion of a jumping Jedi.

19 Jumping jedi tripod shots

Here’s how it’s done in Photoshop.

Start by opening both photos as layers. You will want the empty background shot to be set as the base layer and the action shot as the top one. Select the top layer of the action shot, and click Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal all.

20 Jumping Jedi mask

Select the brush tool, and make sure that your foreground color is set to black, which will allow you to brush away the top layer to reveal some of the base layer. If your foreground color is set to white as opposed to black you can switch it to black by clicking X. Simply brush over the chair (make sure you are painting on the mask NOT the layer) to make it disappear.

21 Jumping Jedi brush away

Add the lightsaber effect from above, and you have the illusion of a jumping Jedi.

22 Final photo Jumping Jedi

Below are some additional examples of the final images from this Star Wars project to give you additional ideas for action shots and portraits to bring your characters to life.

28 Final photo Rey portrait 29 Final Photo Luke portrait

30 Kylo Ren Red

27 Final photo saber battle

Finally

You can watch this whole process in the follow short video as well:

Note: thanks to my co-author on this article, David Kahl.

Try to awaken the force in your family by giving them a lightsaber and following this tutorial. In addition, leave a comment with any other fun photography projects that you have captured with your kids or family. Share your images if you give this a go, we’d love to see them!

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