Making: No Way Out

So several people now have asked me how I created this picture that I posted on flickr last night. Here’s the whole tale.

No Way Out (43 / 365)
No Way Out

Once again last night I was struggling to come up with a subject for my Project 365 photo. I’d been thinking for some time about an taking a picture of me looking through a window with my hands against the glass or cupped around my face, cropping it, and using it as a desktop picture and then taking a picture of what would hopefully appear to be me peering through my computer screen. I was thinking of this again last night on the way home from bowling. Then I thought, what if the edges of the screen were bars that I was holding onto and the portion of my hands in front of “the bars” appeared on the outside of the computer? That might be cool. Especially if it were subtle enough that it caused a double take.

No Way Out: Image 1
Image 1

When I got home I figured I’d give it a try. The first step would be taking a picture that I could use as the desktop picture on my computer. I needed to create a frame to serve as a guide for the edges of the computer screen. And it might be helpful if these edges could be chroma keyed so it was easily selected later. I took some bits of green construction paper, overlaid it on top of my screen and marked the edges that defined the screen and its frame. Then, since that was going to be all floppy, I glued some bits of wood around the edges and cut out a hole for the “screen”. Once that was done, I setup the camera and took a few pictures of me peering out of the “frame”. I could’ve used an assistant here to tell me when I was holding the thing straight and completely in the photo. Oh and I had to make sure my arms were tucked in so they would appear to originate from behind the computer. Very tedious.

No Way Out: Image 2
Image 2

Once I (finally) got a half way decent photo, and by halfway decent I’m talking mainly about alignment and perspective, because it wasn’t very sharp. Anyway, once I had that, I transferred it to my MacBook, tweaked it very slightly, corrected for perspective, cropped it, and set it as my desktop picture. Then I brought the computer over to the wall where the original picture was taken and propped it up on a stool which wasn’t tall enough. So I placed the stool on a chair. And then the light switch was in the way, but by this time it was close to 11 o’clock so I said screw it. The color of the wall and the desktop picture background seemed to match pretty closely, but the camera didn’t think so. I guess the backlighting from the LCD perhaps? After fiddling with it for a bit, I gave up and decided that maybe this change in color would make an interesting transition from the computery bits to “real life”.

Next, I took the original image and superimposed it on the photo of the laptop using the edges of my green frame to guide placement. Once that was done, I copied the portion of my hands that were in front of and beyond the edges of the screen and got rid of the rest. After that, I added a bit of shadow and I was pretty much done. It could’ve been better, but I’m not at all unhappy with the way it turned out.