snakecharmerby Robyn Aber

I started with a photo I snapped of a ‘Snake Charmer’ street performer in Santa Monica, CA. The image is very busy and has challenging elements (that I didn’t notice at the time) like the coffee cup that he’d placed by his foot on the stool where he performed. Which meant if I wanted to work with him I’d have to reconstruct his foot, and I’m no plastic surgeon!

As it was, there was only so much I could do in the park at the entrance to the pier with someone trying to earn a buck and not there to model for me. He didn’t look quite so balletic before I started pretending I was Lindsay Adler & Joe McNally rolled into one and directed him how to pose …

17A_RAber2013_SnakeCharmerSantaMonica_BeforeTopaz-resizedI used Clarity for some micro contrast  adjustments to not only give his muscles more definition, but also to make him ‘pop’ better for selecting and compositing elsewhere. He also must have had makeup on, because he was very dark and orange-tinged.

Clarity’s HSL tools helped with that – I lowered the saturation & raised the luminosity to get his skin less vibrant than he looked in person and also to help disguise the ‘surgery’ on his cup-disentangled foot. That produced the ‘Interim’ picture where I also amputated the kid’s head and painted a wall in the background to make the selection & extraction of the performer easier.

17B_RAber2013_SnakeCharmerBeforeComposite_AfterClarity-resizedFinally, I placed my Snake Charmer in front of a wall mural from Barcelona that I thought suited him. I used Topaz Lens Fx on that background mural shot before the composite process to softly blur it a bit to make the performer stand out better.


The new composited image was taken through Clarity again for some minor color & light contrast adjustments using presets from the General category. Then I added a dash of Adjust for slight detail pop and adaptive exposure adjustments.

17C_RAber2013_SnakeCharmerAndMural-AfterClarityAdjustLensFX-resizedIt’s still a pretty busy image, but hopefully looks like a street performer doing his thing in front of a funky mural now, rather than a messy park with a lonely lost bunny hopping across it in the middle of the city of Santa Monica.

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