Using Photoshop to add motion blur for exciting car photography
Using Photoshop to add motion blur for exciting car photography - Motion blur is a great way to add some energy to your images. It's also good for creating slow sync flash effects as the Chris Robinson, design editor of UKs leading Digital Photo magazine, reveals here.
Mini Cooper sixties icon and three times winner of the Monte Carlo rally. Somehow the car park of a local supermarket doesn't really do justice to the car, as in our starting shot taken on a Nikon Coolpix 990. To overcome this we're going to give it a slow sync flash feel which will add some movement and excitement to the picture. This also has the advantage of throwing the background out of focus and concentrating attention on the car. We're also going to blur the wheels to make it look like it's being driven within an inch of its life!
The lighting is flat and the sky grey. This can be given a bit more life in Photoshop. The chrome spots would look great blazing away so we'll turn them on too.
1 To follow this technique take a picture of a car from a similar angle. On this car photo the first thing we'll do is crop the image to lose a bit of that car park. Select the Rectangular Selection tool from the tool palette and draw a box as shown here.When you're happy, go to Image>Crop and you'll see your newly trimmed down picture.
2 Now roughly select around the edge of the Mini using the Lasso tool. It's easier to do this if you hold down the Alt key, which will let you draw your selection using straight lines. Just click at points around the car until it's completely outlined.When you've done this go to Select>Feather and enter a value of 25.
3 Using Image>Adjust>Curves we can bring out a bit more detail in the dark areas of the picture. Adjust the line as shown here.
Now,go to Select>Inverse to select the area outside the mini and go to Image>Adjust>Brightness & Contrast and enter values of -25 for brightness and +25 contrast. This will darken the background a little.
4 Now to lose that dull sky. Click on the foreground colour swatch and enter 40 cyan and 20 magenta in the palette to give a mid-blue. Select the Airbrush tool and in the brush palette (F5) click on a medium sized, soft-edged brush. Choose Darken mode in the airbrush options palette, and you'll be able to spray over the sky without the trees being affected.
5 It's time to turn on the lights. Select the headlights and spotlights by using the Lasso tool to draw around them, then feather by 5 pixels. Now select the Paint Bucket tool and choose White as your colour. In the Paint Bucket options palette choose Colour Dodge and an Opacity of 77% and fill your selection. Great instant lights!
6 Time for that motion blur. Copy your picture onto a new layer by right-clicking on Background layer in the layers palette and selecting Duplicate layer,then go to Filters>Blur>Motion Blur and enter an angle of 8 and a value of 45 pixels. You can blur the edges of the picture even more if you want a really radical effect try using a value of 100.
7 To create the slow sync effect, delete some of the blurred layer with a large soft-edged eraser to allow the sharp image to show through. Try to keep the blurred area just overlapping the edges of the Mini as this will give a really effective sense of speed. Switch your 'sharp layer' on and off to judge the effect, and when you're happy, flatten the image.
8 Finally, we can make the tyres spin by selecting the wheel area, feathering by 15 and using the Motion Blur filter.
Use values of -80 degrees and 15 pixels blur.
9 The finishing touch is to use Levels to darken the shadows a little more and give a boost to the highlights.
About the author
Chris Robinson is design editor of Digital Photo. This UK magazine has over 30 pages of image editing techniques like this one every month and comes with a CD and sample images, reviews and tests. It's available from your local newsagent or you can click here to see how to subscribe, save money and have the magazine delivered to your door.