My Adventures In Photography

A while back I started a photography column for my hometown's local newspaper — you'll find all of my columns from those pages here as well as new ones that I write.

To see all of my blog posts to date, click here.

Start thinking with portal photography

 PLAN, PLAN, PLAN: This is one project that a tripod is absolutely necessary. Keep in mind your location when shooting the different positions for this shot so you don’t risk being out of focus. Both shots should be taken in the exact same place as before and within a few minutes of each other so shadows do not change too much.

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN: This is one project that a tripod is absolutely necessary. Keep in mind your location when shooting the different positions for this shot so you don’t risk being out of focus. Both shots should be taken in the exact same place as before and within a few minutes of each other so shadows do not change too much.

With spring officially here, I’m looking for any excuse I can get to venture outdoors and enjoy some sunshine.

The need for content in this blog was one of those excuses, and I gladly drove out to the countryside to stand in the middle of a field with a picture frame around my waist (and get stared at by every farmer passing by; true story) ... for you, dear reader.

As the headline for this post suggests, I decided to try a “Portal” themed photograph.

“Portal” is a video game in which you use two different portals to go from level to level completing puzzles and advancing a fanciful (and hilarious) plot.

Rather than using dimension-shattering blue and orange portals, I opted to use a visual photographic pun and grabbed the nicest frame I could get my hands on (thanks, Mom).

The first order of business when attempting this kind of shot is knowing how you want the finished product to look after post-production.

I spent a lot of time sketching this shot out on a sticky note before actually attempting it, and even then I had to correct my thinking when I went out to shoot it.

Knowing I wanted half of my body to come out of each frame, I set up my tripod, lined my shot up and took some test shots to see how each image would look overlapped.

Because I was too far away from the camera for my infrared shutter release remote to work I had to rely on the 10-second timer and do a lot of running back and forth until I was sure I got everything (especially focus) just right.

Once I was happy with how each photo looked, I headed back to my computer to mask out the areas of the image that don’t need to be seen in Adobe Photoshop.

Masks are great because they cover up unwanted parts of your images without being a permanent change (like using the eraser tool). I made sure that the negative space of each photo was used as a background when masking out parts of my body.

Doing so would have been impossible if I hadn’t shot on my tripod.

When masking out the areas, I simply used the polygonal lasso and brush tools to make sure the masks blended well with the background.

It’s important to use a soft brush when masking out areas of the image that have the ground or background. A soft brush guarantees that the textures merge properly and you don’t see any awkward repetition when zoomed in to a 100 percent crop.

Last, I made sure that the shadows of each version of me were shortened (also using masks). Because I was essentially cutting myself in half, my shadows needed to reflect that.

Overall, this is a fun project that anyone with a decent camera, a tripod and access to Photoshop can accomplish. It takes some planning to get it right, but the outcome is rewarding.