I was kindly asked by Tiffen if I would provide a short feature for their 2012 Hallowe'en newsletter - including an image and some details of how their software (DFX) was involved in the process. Of course, I jumped at the chance and it is reproduced below:
Keeping up with Nik !
October is the month to celebrate 'All Hallow's Eve' or 'Halloween'. A time of costumes parties and parades, ' trick or treating ', carving jack o' lanterns, and harmless pranks. Also this month we catch up with Tiffen's ImageMaker Nik Sargent. And as a special Halloween treat, he has shared his Dfx workflow on one of his fantastical images.
About the picture by Nik Sargent
I use Adobe Lightroom as the hub of my workflow - because it allows me to orchestrate all the other software I use (including DFX3) as well as manage fine tweaks and all the publishing I do to my site, Facebook etc.
This photo, believe it or not, was taken on the bright summer's day. The first job was to tame the exposure and dynamic range, which is why I always shoot in RAW. I don't use Photoshop but use Corel Paintshop Pro instead, where the exposure and tone mapping controls were performed and then the warping of the building.
The whole purpose of this first step is to create a clean, good looking "standard" (albeit bendy!) image, before handing over to DFX3 to do the creative lighting and toning.
By my normal standards, this was quite a small filter stack in DFX3, mainly inspired by the built-in "day to night" filter - I really wanted to convert the summer daylight picture to a creepy night time picture. I actually used my own combination of filters to get the effect I wanted, which inluded throwing some dappled light around the scene with some Gobos.
The Dfx filter stack for this image was as following:
sharpen - to bring out the brickwork
overexpose - to control the light levels and add a subtle, hazly glow
gobo x 2 - to throw some soft dappled light in the foreground
looks (halo) - a soft way to increase the constrast
film stocks - provide initial colour toning and extra contrast
ambient light - more soft light control on the front of the house
photographic (light blue green) - used to simulates day to night
gels (forever amber) - re-introduce the right amount of warmth
I've been expanding my image concepts this year, pushing DFX further and trying new techniques, and combining it with other tools. 2012 was the year I definitely stopped asking "is it photography?" and started asking "is it good to look at?" So, more than ever, my images are testing the boundary of photography, digital art and painting.