I know it’s not nice to criticize Mother Nature, but the weather this past week was…well…conducive to staying home in front of the fireplace. Fall is still glorious, although the winds have thinned the glory. But while you can go out in just wind, or just rain, the two together are daunting.
I don’t have a lens-ball. They are trendy right now, and I am seeing lots of creative photos using them. The problem is that I don’t just shoot hand-held. I shoot hand-held holding two leashes plus, more often than not, a bag of dog doo. The thought of trying to toss a lens-ball into that juggling act is scary.
But, while trying to avoid the news-when-there-really-isn’t-any-news media blitz of the past week, I happened onto a tutorial to use the GIMP (gnu image manipulation program) to add a lens-ball effect to images. Here are my projects so far:
I haven’t gotten very adept yet, but I’m getting better and this has a lot of potential for future creativity. It is certainly a relaxing activity, almost a form of meditation.
How to do it
I assume that the Adobe Photoshop users can do something very similar. The tutorial I used was this one:
A warning: I find that this guy talks too fast for me. He has great information, but he tends to blurt it all out at once. I made myself a step-by-step Cheat Sheet so I wouldn’t have to go back and re-watch every time I want to do this. Included below, in case you want to give it a try, it might be helpful as a companion to the video. If you are not familiar with the GIMP the cheat sheet probably isn’t enough on its own.
My cheat sheet
- Load image.
- Make a new, transparent layer with a circle at the center:
- Define center of image using image>guides>new guide by percent (50%), one each vertical and horizontal.
- Use ellipse select tool from tool box or shortcut e. Aspect ratio 1:1.
- Make sure foreground/background colors are black & white. Drag black (foreground) to circle.
- Use Ctl-shft-a to deselect circle.
- Warp background to go into the sphere:
- Duplicate base layer.
- With duplicate layer active: Filters>Distorts>Spherize. Adjust angle of view to get desired effect.
- Next fit warped image into the circle:
- Place guides around the circle: alt-click on circle layer or layers>transparency>alpha to selection. Image>guides>new guides from selection. Cntl-shft-a to deselect.
- Select warped base image layer.
- Shft-s or select scale tool from tool box. Holding cntl key scales from center, holding shft key maintains original aspect ratio.
- Click and drag until the warped image matches the top and bottom guides.
- Unlink the x and y values in the scale pop-up menu. Then refine the warped image to lie within the guides. Once things are lined up click on “scale”.
- Drag the scaled layer to the top of the layers. (so it covers the black circle).
- Hide the corners of the circle: Alt-click or Layer>transparency>alpha to selection on the circle layer. Right click on warped background layer>add layer mask>selection. Cntl-shft-a to deselect.
- Make the ball look more realistic by flipping the sphere and adding shading:
- Shft-f or transform group flip tool. Choose vertical. Make sure you are on image not layer mask on the warped layer. Hover mask over circle and click. This inverts the circle.
- Apply shading using the “sphere designer tool”.
- Duplicate the circle layer. Drag to the top of the layer stack. Good idea to rename it “sphere”. Layer>crop to content. Hover inside the black circle and hit delete key.
- Go to Help>search and run a command or /. Type “sphere” then double click on “sphere designer”.
- Click on the lower light layer to adjust the color the dark shade.
- Click on the upper light layer to adjust the orientation, extent and, if you desire, the color of the light source. The source orientation can be adjusted using the x and y values and the z value determines its extent.
- When you have the shading as you want it click okay.
- Scale the shaded circle to match the warped image circle. Get the scale tool by typing shft s or getting it from the tool box. Make sure the x and y values are linked to keep the circle round. Adjust to make the circles match then hit “scale” in the dialog box.
- Copy the sphere shading layer.
- Then change the blend mode for the two shade layers.
- Make the top most layer “overlay” (this makes the light part of the shading stand out.
- Make the lower layer “linear burn” (this makes the darker part pop a bit.
- Refine the look by adjusting the opacity of the two shade layers: rule of thumb is to make the overlay layer about 60 to 70%, and the linear burn layer between 20 and 30%.
- Toggle the guides off: View>Show guides.
- Add an outer glow to the sphere:
- Alt-click on one of the sphere layers.
- Create a new layer (sphere glow) transparent.
- Open the paths tab.
- Convert the selection to path (hover over the icons at the bottom of the paths panel to get the description to pop up. Sometimes this takes a bit of time. You know it’s done when it shows up in the paths panel.
- Use the stroke to path (It is accessed by an icon at the bottom of the paths panel). To make sure the line will be solid click on the plus sign beside line style. Also make sure the foreground color is white, then click “stroke”.
- Filters>blur>Gaussian blur with size 20 or so (depends on image size).
- Back to layers panel. Cntl-shft-a to deselect. Change layer mode to linear light. Adjust opacity.
- Duplicate sphere glow layer. Lock alpha channel (little checkerboard icon at the top of the layers panel).
- Select foreground color, use eyedropper to select a color from the picture. Drag the new color onto the layer. Adjust the layer mode, to burn or linear burn.
- Adjust the focus and blur for realism:
- Background layer: duplicate it, on duplicate filters>blur>lens blur. Adjust radius and highlights for desired effects.
- Hide background layers. Create new layer from visible. Turn off all the layers used to make the sphere.
- Use filters>blur>focus blur and adjust the parameters to give the sphere a more 3-d effect.