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Photo Tutorial — Levitating Object

Published by Diana Tula · January 30th 2013

There are many cool photos of levitating objects and people on 500px. We wanted to share the secrets behind such photos with you and Steven Kowalski was generous to volunteer. In this article Steven reveals the step-by-step process behind “do the dew” photo giving away his post processing tricks.

Step 1: Taking the photo

I’ve been slowly working on a collection of commercial art projects over the past few months. When deciding on a product to use, I knew I wanted to do a photograph where the product in question would illuminate in some capacity.  Since I only have three different colored gels for my lights, I wanted to work within this limitation and chose an item based on my options (I know it’s possible to adjust in post-processing, but I’m trying to “shoot it right!” people). My first thought was to use the orange gel with a Dorito shell taco from Taco Bell, however the nearest Taco Bell was 7 city miles away. Instead, we decided on a bottle of Mountain Dew.  Here are our two base images:

It was important to get these two shots, one holding the bottle at the top and one at the bottom. So that later they could be merged in a post-processing program, erasing the parts where the arm shows. Make sure when photographing the two images that the lighting is the same for all photos and that both are shot from exactly the same angle. It might be best to use a tripod until you get a hang of this technique.

Using the two images above (and another one for the face), I merged them together using layer masks and removed my buddy’s arm using clone stamping and content aware fills. Then I merged all layers and this is what I was left with:

Step 2: Lightroom

Aside from being a composite with a greenish glow/tint over the face, which was added later in Photoshop by painting green on a soft light layer, the image above is more or less straight out of camera. As you can see, it’s a bit weird. I wanted to make this a bit more mysterious. To do so, I started by importing that image into Lightroom.

The Lightroom adjustments made were specific to this photograph and my taste, this might not work for your photograph in the same way, but play around with these settings regardless.

Here are the settings I used:

1. I went to “Develop” in Lightroom and started adjusting HSL (Hue Saturation Luminance) for each colour. You can find it in your Lightroom under “HSL / Color / B&W”.

2. Next I moved on to “Tone Curve”. Reducing shadows and increasing other parameters.

3. Then went to “Basic” settings to adjust temperature, tint, exposure an saturation. Shifted temperature and tint towards blues and greens to reinforce the presence of cool colours in this photo. Decreased saturation in order to tone down the bright almost fluorescent colours. And added exposure to increase brightness to the photo overall.

After all the Lightroom adjustments the resulting image was this:

Step 3: Photoshop processing

As you remember Photoshop adjustments already have been made with two photos merged, arm erased and green glow added to the face with paint. But it needed more work. So far, the image was coming together nicely, but the crop could use some work. Photo was imported to Photoshop with saved Lightroom adjustments for further work.

1. Changed the crop to a standard landscape 6×4.

2. To fill in the sides of the photo, I used a simple Photoshop tool called “Content-Aware.”  By highlighting the negative space and right clicking “Fill”, you can select Content-Aware from the drop down menu:

3. After that go ahead and apply Content Aware to the other side. Though the results may not be perfect, Content Aware usually does a “pretty okay” job on its own. To fix the places where Content Aware seems a bit off, simply use the Clone Stamp tool with a very soft brush at 100% opacity/flow. The final results looked like this:

4. At this point I was really liking where we’re going but I still wanted to add more depth to the photo, while drawing people’s attention towards the center product of the image. The solution was simple — blur. I added an Iris Blur filter in Photoshop:

5. To give the photo a more vintage/mysterious look textures can go a long way in helping you achieve some really nifty effects. I applied two textures that I bought from Phlearn’s texture pack. You can also download Potoshop textures for free, just search google.

6. The first layer created a foggy/smokey element around the photo while the second added a nice grain/film feel. Just layering textures over a photo won’t work, you always need to blend layers and adjust transparency if needed for fine tuning. Beauty is in the details. For this I recommend playing around with Layer Blending Modes. For this photo I used Lighten and Soft Light.

7. After that, I exported the JPEG, with all saved changed done in Photoshop. I the opened that JPEG in Lightroom where I lowered the Vibrance by about 10. The final mage was this:

Thanks to Steven Kowalski for sharing this tutorial and thank you for reading!

Looking for more tutorials? Check out previously featured tutorial "Mirror, mirror", it is a mirroring tutorial by Ildiko Neer that shows how a simple photo can be transformed into a work of fine art.

Let’s share your skills and educate those new to photography. If you have a tutorial you’d like to share, be it in shooting, post production or top tips for getting your work out there please get in touch, email


Drew Medlin

Published by Diana Tula · January 29th 2013

Elegant, classic, bold, alluring. Those are the words that come to mind when looking at photos by self-taught fine art photographer from New Mexico, USA — Drew Medlin. Drew got into photography through Astronomy, and his fascination and love for the skies translates into spectacular and dangerous lightning photographs. Enjoy petit squares of black & white beauty by Drew Medlin.

To get to know Drew Medlin’s work better visit his 500px page, there you can follow his future photo uploads, add Drew to friends, and check her Store for canvas prints or desktop downloads available for sale.

Our blog is a place to promote 500px photographers and their brilliant photos. Every week we publish a brief photographer profile introducing you to a photographer from 500px community and his/her body of work. This could be you! Email us and let us know about yourself and your work.


Last Continent

Published by Diana Tula · January 28th 2013

Want to get featured on our blog? Every Monday a theme is announced and you have until Sunday to submit your entry. Upload photos to your 500px profile and leave a comment to this post with the photo links. You may already have a photo that suits or you can see it as a weekly photo challenge. This week's theme was: Last Continent. For announced new theme and deadline continue reading.

New theme is: I Have A Dream

Theme is open to your interpretation and creativity, so get snapping and post links to photo entries in the comments below. Deadline is February 3rd at 12pm (EST).

Every week there's a random draw giveaway, giving a chance to everyone who enters to win 2 months of Awesome membership. This week’s winner is Krishan Bansal.

Big thanks to everyone who participated!


Follow Friday: Wildlife Photographers

Published by Diana Tula · January 25th 2013

Hi everyone! Inspired by the Follow Friday hashtag movement on twitter we are starting a new weekly feature on our blog. With Follow Friday posts you can discover new, popular and up-and-coming photographers from 500px to follow and add to friends.

Marina Cano

Lovers of animal photography and fine art won’t fail to notice Marina Cano’s photographs. Marina skillfully captures those perfect Hallmark moments of the wildlife kingdom.

Nikolai Zinoviev

Nikolai Zinoviev’s love for wildlife translates into his beautiful high resolution photos. Braving the dangers Nikolai once lived 40 days in the wild photographing Kamchatka’s nature and wildlife. His photos of brown bears stole our hearts, will your heart be stolen too?

Axel Hildebrandt

If you love the feathered, winged and endothermic creatures of the world — birds, then don’t miss photos by Axel Hildebrandt. Birds are his specialty and he just might be nearing in to capture all 10,000 avian species out there.

Hristo Peshev

Had a hard week and wanting to de-stress? Look no further, indulge in wildlife photos of Hristo Peshev. Captured at the mountainous and wetland regions of Bulgaria these photos are bound to share their sense of peace and tranquility with you.

Marc MOL

Big cats, hyenas, water buffalo, hippos, zebras, Marc’s portfolio has got it all. There is no need to wait for a vacation, take a trip to Africa right now. Be warned, as in real life safaris some imagery is not for the faint of heart.

Bridgena Barnard

If you are lusting for more African wildlife we’d like to recommend photos by Bridgena Barnard. What makes her photos unique are great action scenarios and unusual angles that show us the moments which could have been missed by an untrained eye.

Buck Shreck

Our favourite photos by Buck Shreck are photos of North American wildlife, they feel really close to home. Take a look at his profile and decide for yourself which photos you like best, will it be a close-up of bold eagle, bear fishing for salmon, silhouette of a cheetah or a swimming hippo?

Edwin Kats

Edwin’s photos are so good that at times they feel too good to be true. We know it’s impossible to stage such scenes as a baby deer cradling by his mom’s side or an eagle triumphing while atop his pray, but you can’t blame us for having doubts. Those photos look simply perfect! Take a look and judge for yourself.

Yves Adams

Yves Adams is no stranger to bat caves, following birds for days and freezing in hopes to get that one good photo. His dedication pays off with stunning and remarkable photos. Enjoy his fine art wildlife photos and appreciate special moments captured.

We hope you enjoyed our roundup! This is just the first post and there are many more wildlife photographers whom we can’t wait to recommend to you. Come back next Friday for more incredible photographers to follow and get inspired by. Thanks for reading :)

Who is your favourite wildlife photographer at 500px? Let us know in the comments below.


Emmanuelle Brisson's Dreams

Published by Diana Tula · January 23rd 2013

What would happen if our dreams became reality? Experience the results of such possibility with photos by Emmanuelle Brisson, professional photographer from Niort, France. Much like dreams her photos are a reflection of human narrative that explore our fragility and the underlying darkness.

To get to know Emmanuelle Brisson’s work better visit her 500px page, there you can follow her future photo uploads, add Emmanuelle to friends, and check her Store for canvas prints or desktop downloads available for sale.

Our blog is a place to promote 500px photographers and their brilliant photos. Every week we publish a brief photographer profile introducing you to a photographer from 500px community and his/her body of work. This could be you, email us and let us know about yourself and your work.


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