john lund



Photographer John Lund flips his wig in this humorous self portrait and stock photo.
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Picture of a young boy riding a unicycle down a long, empty road.

Picture of a boy riding a unicycle down a long empty road stretching through the Southwestern landscape. This is a photo of a journey, freedom and new beginnings.
ID# 1612 
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Boy On A Unicycle

I photographed the road on my way back from teaching a stock photography course at the Santa Fe Workshops. The boy on the unicycle is a neighbor of my freelance producer. When I asked her to find me a unicycle she told me she had a friend whose son rides a unicycle around the neighborhood. She suggested we hire him to be the model. I actually wanted the unicycle so that I could have an elephant riding it, but immediately like the idea of having a boy riding it as well. We photographed the young man in my studio. At that time I hadn't yet chosen the road to put him into, so I used very flat lighting. Using flat lighting makes it much easier to match the primary image into the background I am stripping it into.

To add to the "contemporary feel" of the image I had the boy wear headphones and hold an mpeg player. I photographed him both coming and going, and at various levels and angles. I photographed him both in motion and holding still. The nuances of what will make a composite image look natural are hard to determine precisely. Just to be safe I try to always get subtle (and even not so subtle) variations of the photos to be composited. In this case I also shot variations of the pedal position.

Clipping paths and the extraction filter

I used the pen tool in Photoshop to create a clipping path around the boy and the unicycle. When creating clipping paths I generally do the work at 200%. I try and keep the path a couple of pixels inside the edge I am selecting. Usually a one-pixel feather gives me the best results when I make the clipping path into a selection. I make a wide berth around the hair, and then I use the extract filter to make the selection around the hair.

Next I pasted the selected portion of the image into the background and use Free Transform to size and position the boy and unicycle. To finish up I add a layer mask and use black paint with varying soft brush sizes to “brush away” any areas that might need it. Again, with a careful clipping path, that usually isn’t necessary. Generally one place that does need additional attention is the hair. In this case there were a few areas of the boy’s hair that showed up as looking too light. A few strokes with the dodge tool, set to “Highlights”, took care of that.

Shadows are a key to authenticity

One of the most important details in compositing is to have authentic looking shadows. To create the shadows I used the airbrush and painted with black paint. I used three layers, painting each one with differing sized soft brushes, to create realistic shadows. I used a very small brush directly under the tire, then the larger brushes as I moved further from the point of the unicycle closest to the road. I then adjusted the opacity of each layer separately until the shadow looked real.

After studying the image a bit I decided to stretch it out a bit. The shot was actually a vertical one. I increased the width of the canvas, then duplicated the background layer (the road), and stretched it to fill the new canvas size.

Changing stripes

Once the road size had been adjusted, I realized I needed to change the size of the yellow stripes. That was perhaps the trickiest part of the image; to get the size relationship looking natural between the yellow stripes, the road, and the boy. I selected portions of the road with the lasso tool, created new layers with the selections, and then re-sized and positioned the stripes.

A few tonal and color adjustments (using adjustment layers), some dust spotting, a final cropping adjustment, and voila! I now have a concept stock photo that illustrates a number of themes from “The way forward”, to “Freedom”. Making sure I had met all of Getty’s image requirements for technical standards, I then submitted the image via their portal.

Bicyclist With Wheels On Fire    Bicyclist With Square Wheels


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