Making the Photo – Skateboarder

One of my favourite photos to take and edit was this one of my good friend Matt Skating. It was done for an assignment at school, and was one of those last minute deals. “Oh crap! That assignment is due tomorow? I still haven’t even got a photo!” So we got in our cars and drove to the skatepark, don’t even know which skatepark it is, but its not far from the Grange area in Adelaide. So somewhere there.

Anyway, we had to sit and wait for the torrential rain to stop before we could even get out to think about taking the photos. Not the best start to a shoot. Wet, slick cement also didn’t assist the skating side of things. Fortunately the stormy skies really helped the background, and the wet cement actually helped out the fore ground once it got into photoshop, but more about that later . . .


SO this was shot on my old D200, using the pop up flash as a commander and adding a slight front fill. A SB900 was my main light source just to the right of me sitting on the ground and aimed at where, hopefully, Matt would fly through the air. Then I used a SB800 off to the left and slightly behind Matt to give some shaping and rim light. We started with Matt skating, but ended with him running and jumping with the board as the ground was just to wet and slippery to skate properly on. It took a while and a lot of effort on Matt’s behalf especially but finally I got the shot I wanted.


The post work was fun on this shot, so much texture and character to be bought out of the photo. A lot of work, but this is one I deffinately enjoyed working on.

The first thing I did was sort out some work paths to isolate individual parts / sections of the image. I like to do this first as it can be a bit tedious and time consuming, but once done the whole editing experience flows a lot easier and creativity does not need to wait for paths! So I pathed out the cement, the sky, Matt, the skateboard, pants, shoes and hoodie.

Selecting only the cement of the skate park, I de-saturated it, bumped the contrast up quite considerably and added sharpening to really bring out the texture of the cement. This is where the wet cement ended up really helping, as it gave off more highlights and interest then if it was dry. The previously cursed rain was now something to look gratefully upon!

The sky also had contrast added, and de-saturated until it gave me the look I was looking for. The fun really started on Matt himself. A lot of dodging and burning was done on his clothes to really bring out the creases and lines, and then each was individually selected using the paths I created earlier to add contrast, get the colours right and de-saturate to fit the rest of the picture. I used some noise reduction on the clothes to give them a more metallic feel, which worked well.

Then it was a matter of matching all the elements together so the sky and cement looked like they were real, Matt fitted into the scene without looking weird and cut out. Then global contrast and sharpening were added. I finished the image with a really heavy but small vignette around the edge of the photo, which I feel really added a lot of mood and feeling and also a bit of the grittiness i was looking for.

Here are the before (Camera RAW) and after (High Res JPEG) image:


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