Certified So: Redefining Happiness

I would like to give you a little background on the photography for the front cover of the book Certified So: Redefining Happiness.



Stage 1: The Idea

We had an idea of what we wanted, but we didn't have a studio to shoot it in so we made do with what we had on "hand"... ha ha. Roland knew that he wanted a picture of a hand that pointed to the miracle of God replacing the mustard seed size of whatever we give away with a whole heaping wheelbarrow load more than we just shared.

Stage 2: The "Studio"

The photo shoot was taken after dark in Roland Coleman's office so we could more easily control lighting. The camera was manual focused on a Manfrotto tripod and we spent much of the time in Live View mode as we experimented with light source placement. We set up a sheet as a backdrop because we knew the background would be cut out. Since each light source we has was a different temperature, it was difficult to get a real-to-life lighting scenario.

Stage 3: The Hand Photo

Once we finished the shoot the real work began in making it look good... that's when reality sunk in. You can check and recheck your settings but in this case it turned out that the photo we really wanted to use had not been shot in RAW, meaning that our already challenging lighting scenario would now be much harder to fix in post processing. The photo was first graded in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom as best as possible and then exported to Adobe Photoshop where I manually lassoed the hand to exclude the background. I then feathered the selection so the edge was not so abrupt and felt more real to life. Then came the fun part of manually creating a realistic glow in the hand. It took a bit of time because I had to do it with a mouse instead of tablet making it difficult to create smooth lines with the necessary precision. At first glance you may not notice, but a fair amount of time was taken in making the light emanate from between the fingers in a realistic way. It's a tricky business figuring out how dense the white light in the hand should be and at what rate it should drop off as you get further from the source.

Stage 4: The Hand Photo Metadata (Exif):

  • Make: Canon
  • Model: Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM lens
  • Focal Length: 92 mm
  • ISO: 1600

Stage 5: The Design

Once the hand was ready to go, then came the book cover design. Although there were many previous book covers, this new photograph was going to be based on a completely new cover design... there's a very loooong story behind that, but I will let Roland tell more about that someday. Since I am more familiar with Photoshop, I did all my cover design work-up files in in Photoshop. The basic concept that you see of the cover came together in less time than anything else that we did. After playing with countless iterations we basically came back to what we started with and sent it off to the publisher a fodder for their designers.

Stage 6: The Publishers

The publishers really didn't change the design we submitted hardly at all. However, they did make some drastic improvements to the design in changing the background to black from the lighter one I had, and being font gurus, they found some more modern fonts than I had in my toolbox. After about 3 revisions of font placement and sizing the design was approved and printed.


About The Photographer/Designer

Hi, I'm Charles Coleman, a servant of Jesus Christ... that is my work. I have a trade as a web designer/developer where I can help people in their businesses by making websites. I also have found ways to incorporate my passion for photography into most of what I do. You can tell a story, make someone's day, or paint a picture worth a thousand words all with photography. I know it's just a picture of a hand on the front cover of the book, but as it turned out... it's my hand. My hands are not perfect, they have been used for bad and for good. Nevertheless, by God's grace I look to what is ahead. I can testify that as I continue give away the things I think I have the very least of, God truly does perform the miracle. Like the widow that fed Elijah, the oil will not run dry. I have no need to think about tomorrow, the Holy Spirit supplies just the right amount to meet the needs of each and every day (1 Kings 17).

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