Anyone who has gone to the beach with the family understands the pressure on the photographer in the family to capture the perfect portrait on the beach.
It’s not like there aren’t enough things to worry about between hitting the lighting at the right time, to timing your shot in between random beach walkers to keeping sand out of your camera bag. On top of normal photographer thoughts, there is the challenge of working with your own kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews who don’t see you as a photographer but as dad/mom/grandpa/grandma/uncle/aunt with a dorky habit of carrying a camera.
Honestly, sometimes it is enough to make me want to chuck my camera into ocean, dig a hole in sand and curl up in a ball. My kids get the best of me on so many beach photography excursions. And then I get crap like this…
All of the ridiculous junk we buy at the giant crap store (the one with the huge shark at the front) to play with at the beach the whole week and I can’t get one smile?
Ok. Off my therapeutic rant now and back on point.
We managed to get a few good portraits of all of our kids. If you go to a beach every year for vacation, you understand that it was a good year for us.
Whenever we are done with our posed portraits, we let the kids roam the beach for a few minutes in hopes of getting some decent candid photos before they inevitably end up in the surf or someone kicks sand in someone else’s eyes.
As we dug through our photos a few weeks ago, we thought we might have a little gem in there with this one.
Exposure was a little dark and it was framed way too loose, but I shot it with the 21MP 5D Mark II so I had plenty of resolution with which to work. Additionally, my wife suggested an “oil painting look.”
I’ll be honest. I have never been a fan of converting photos to painting looks. I always felt it was artificial and cheating a bit. But I thought as a looked at this photo of my four precious kids at a point in time that was long enough removed from the chaos of that day that I could appreciate what she saw in it.
I also had to trust my wife’s judgment and eye. Some people have that natural eye to simply see what they want from a given scene. That is something I have always had to work for, so I trusted what she saw.
So, here’s the breakdown in how all this came together.
I had the above image as a RAW file from my Canon 5D Mark II. In Lightroom 5, I made a few adjustments to the exposure and contrast, which yielded this:
The exposure, contrast and curve adustments looked like this:
Now, I was starting to get her vision. So, I exported the file to Photoshop from Lightroom ( Photo>Edit in…>Photoshop ).
Then, I opened up Topaz Simplify for further editing from the Filters menu inside Photoshop. I chose the Paintings preset category and sampled several before setting on Oil Painting II.
Then, I made only minor adjustments, increasing the Simplify Size slider a little, which gave us the below result:
According to my wife, I nailed it. This is exactly what she had envisioned when she saw the original image.
The entire editing process was only about 10 minutes or so of actual editing time. We spent more time culling through the various shots we considered for printing.
I ordered a 16 x 20 canvas print from MyPhotopipe.com, which is still my go-to print maker. We got the canvas back within a week and had it mounted in a frame at Hobby Lobby. The canvas was around $34 or so and the frame was $40. Hobby Lobby did the mount job for $13.50 with hardware. Dry mounting the canvas was $11 and the hardware was $2.50.
So that’s how I went from a rather “meh” shot of a great moment to a 16 x 20″ canvas hanging in our living room. The power of high resolution RAW files, great editing software in Lightroom 5 and Topaz Simplify and a great mail-order printshop in MyPhotopipe.com made a pretty simple process.