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Fake Planetary Photography

Updated on August 7, 2013
 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. | Source

I love taking photographs of celestial subjects. From the Moon to stars, but without the aid of a really good telescope and a quite expensive one, the most of what I can do is to photograph the Moon till I'm blue in the face.

Granted Moon shots are really interesting and beautiful and you can use a wide array of angles and perspectives to give your images a personal touch.

However, there is a way to cheat and capture photographs of "planets" that are not really planets at all. Tin foil plates are most always perfectly round and can be used as substitute planets and they are the main ingredient in this fake planets photography project.

Two things need to be in place; first you need a tin foil plate that is greasy, food stained and so on. Not freshly stained but grease that has been standing for at least a day. Baking tin foil plates usually work quite well and are very cheap. This is for creating "surface features" but if you are going to paint a design on the plate, then use a clean one. Note than you are not going for clear cut and crisp designs. The trick is to make the plate appear to be a planet when "viewed" from a long distance. Shape is more important than any features.

The next must have piece of gear is no gear at all but software. Photoshop or most any digital editing programs is an essential element that will allow you to complete the project.

First take a regular photo of a soiled,greasy tin foil plate laying on a black non glossy backdrop. Better to lay the foil plate down and photograph it from above.Save this image onto your computer and open the digital program to begin creating your planetary photography project. Remember to save a copy of your tin foil planet just in case.

Open the file containing the photograph of the tin foil plate. Open the ELLIPTICAL MARQUEE TOOL, and draw out a circle around the foil plate photo. Click on EDIT then COPY, then click or press D, then X. This will set the background color to black.

To create the background of your planet click on FILE,NEW,BLANK FILE in that order the set the parameters to about 10 inches wide and about 8 inches height. Set the resolution to about 300 pixels and set the background contents to background color.

Now click on EDIT and paste the the round selection into this new file or document.

Click SHOW BOUNDING BOX, and drag any corner to scale the selection down. Click on the background using the MAGIC WAND TOOL then CTRL+SHIFT+I to invert the selection and select the circle.

You need to add some perspective to your "planet" so to do this click on FILTER, DISTORT,SPHERIZE and give it a value of about 100% and finalize by clicking OK. Now click on FILTER,SPHERIZE to re-apply the filter

Now you need to create a new layer and make another circle that is about the same size of the "planet". Do this by going to EDIT,FILL and filled it with black. Now hide this layer by clicking on the EYE icon.

You also need to add some atmospherics to your newly found "planet" and this is done by selecting LAYER,LAYER STYLE,STYLE SETTING, Click on GLOW then click on the inner portion and then set the size to 25 pixels and the opacity to about 80%. Select the color and click light blue. Click on outer, set the size to 80 pixels and opacity to 80% and finish by selecting a slight variation of the blue.

You now need to create the dark space that surrounds all real planets and this is done by selecting FILTER,BLUR,GAUSSIAN. Set the radius to 70 pixels. Click on the MOVE TOOL, click SHOW BOUNDING BOX. If the circle doesn't seem right ,then click and hold on an corner and drag to re-sized it. Click on OK to complete and save your work.

That is it you are done. It is worth considering adding distant "stars" and other celestial beings to make the effect that much more realistic. Again Photoshop can aid you in this.


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