On Making Your Own Puzzle Pieces

By | 2012-07-06T09:39:03+00:00 Jul 6th, 2012|

Today’s image is the centerpiece of this week’s episode (#15) of Perfect Inspiration with +onOne Software – and I think the messaging behind it is important for us as photographers to keep in mind when we’re shooting frenetically. If you want, feel free to read the text below first and then come back to click through and watch the workflow video.


This was my very first time ever seeing hot air balloons in person, much less aglow at night. I was joined by some of my favorite people – +Nicole S. Young, +Lars Gustafson, +David Daniels and… yeah… even +Brian Bonham [shudder]. We got together to shoot the Tigard Festival of Balloons, something that I’d been looking forward to for many months.

The event went off without a hitch but what was surprising was the lack of  coordination between the hot air balloon operators to glow their balloons at the same time. Not to worry, I thought. I’ll just take separate exposures of each balloon as it glows and mask it in post.

That’s all well and good until you find out later that night that you forgot to get an exposure of the largest balloon in your frame aglow.


As a photographer, your skills are truly put to the test in situations like this one – poop has hit the fan. That is a fact. Now, how do you respond to this fact? That is where your mettle is truly put on display.

For me, it just so happened that I had a test shot from a slightly different vantage point that had this balloon aglow. As far as I was concerned, this was my proverbial needle in the haystack. I felt confident in my masking abilities to be able to replace the dim balloon with the glowing one – at least to the point where it would salvage the overall concept of my shot.

In the end, I walked away with a shot that I’m really happy with and it’s really all because of some dumb luck and crafty masking. Of course, had I paid closer attention when I was in the field, this whole freaking post would be moot… but who’s counting? ;)

In terms of processing
Normally, this space is reserved for me to share the step-by-step process of how I got the final image shared here. However, if you click on the URL above, I recorded a video that walks you through the entire process – so check it out!

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  1. Jan Kabili July 6, 2012 at 9:21 am - Reply


  2. Anson Jett July 6, 2012 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Brian, Outstanding capture, wonderful shot!

  3. Kelly-Shane Fuller July 6, 2012 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Thats a great shot, I would have loved to see these… I always mean to get out there but never actually remember until after it's over :/

  4. Cathy Rudd July 6, 2012 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Beautiful photo. I just went to my first balloon festival in May, it is a great experience to get up close to the balloons. Unfortunately the one I went to shut down early because of high winds, but I still got several good photos. 

  5. Chris Smith July 6, 2012 at 9:34 am - Reply

    I love the look of the balloons at night. I had fun shooting a night glow in Bend, Oregon last summer.

  6. Sairam Sundaresan July 6, 2012 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Lovely shot! Refreshing take on hot air balloons ;)

  7. Tressa Crozier July 6, 2012 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Beautiful and I love the video to go along with it!  Gets me really excited to use the program some more this weekend, +Brian Matiash!

  8. Brian Matiash July 6, 2012 at 10:18 am - Reply

    +Tressa Crozier Thanks, girl! Let me know if you have any questions with it. Looking forward to shooting in SFO in a few weeks!

  9. Tressa Crozier July 6, 2012 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Uh oh, +Brian Matiash, be careful, I know I will have questions..I may actually end up bugging you with them.  Hope you have fun things planned for your trip out here!

  10. Jayde Ryan July 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    can you send me some pictures please i love your art

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