Monthly Archives: February 2010

Amie Dodgson – basic light set up

I had the pleasure of shooting Amie Dodgson this week. She had in fact only come to shoot with Martin at my house and then stay over before returning home to Kendal. The day at our house was interesting with Martin and a naked girl, two dogs, two cats and of course Her Indoors. Martin took some marvelous pictures which if we ever need to sell the house certainly will be good to liven up the brochure. Her Indoors was heard to comment that if she had known there would be a naked girl lying on our hall floor, she would have washed the floor first.

I was able to catch half an hour the next morning before Amie had to catch her train. It is amazing what you can do in half an hour with a professional model. So little direction needed and only minor tweaks to make.

This is my favourite for the day so far, haven’t finished going through them all yet. Yes I know it is a little naughtier than normal but you can blame that on Andrew Kent, the only one of you viewers who has taken the time to comment, thanks Andrew. He suggested that I needed a little “lust” in my portfolio. At my age it is a little hard to conjure up lust but I always say leave them asking for more. Hope you all like it and don’t be afraid to comment if you don’t.

Standard light set up as shown in a previous blog but the units were all closer.

Key set at 4, fill at 2 and hair light at 1. Hair light – instead of using a snoot I use a reflector and honeycomb.

Processing in Raw editor is standard and then into Photoshop to save as a Tiff to export to Portrait Professional. Some minor tweaks then saved again as a Tiff. Opened again in Photoshop and sharpened with unsharp mask, cropped and copyrighted.

View large and on black

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Skin smoothing with Portrait Professional

Today’s topic is about re-touching, specifically with the Portrait Professional piece of software. As anyone who has read my previous posts knows, I am not a great fan of skin smoothing but occasionally it is necessary. If done in moderation it can enhance the final image and of course take years off the subject’s age. If over-done the results can be horrific and not even resemble the subject.

At the moment I use Portrait Professional because it has a large selection of tools which can be moderately applied. I suspect that I will emigrate over to Imagenomic Portraiture shortly since I emigrated to Adobe CS4 and have fallen in love with the ease of doing things in one environment.

In the following image the neck and jaw line were slightly altered, the eyes were widened, iris brightened, pupils darkened and whites whitened.

The skin tools were used but the pores not obliterated. This helped reduce the laugh lines but not eliminate them. The shine tool was also used to blend the skin tones a little better. Finally the hair was lightened and tinted red a fraction.

Which one do you prefer and would you have done it substantially different? Have you used Imagenomic Portraiture and is it any good?

Answers that I would love to know but, as you are in the most part a bunch of silent readers too shy to comment, I guess I never shall.

Go on…..dare you

To view a larger image click this link

Light Meter Or Histogram?

Sorry about that last post, we all make mistakes when we try something for the first time, that was mine and I cannot delete it. Just shows we are all human.

Second attempt

I have asked a number of photographers the question of whether they use a light meter or Histogram in their studio lighting set up process. I have been surprised by the answers.

Light Meter Or Histogram?

I have asked a number of photographers the question of whether they use a light meter or Histogram in their studio lighting set up process. I have been surprised by the answers.

How do you balance your lights with digital photography in the studio?
Light Meter
Camera LCD

Basic Light set up plus one light

Lighting is one of the keys to a good photograph. Spending a little time understanding your lights and what they do can save you so much time in processing your final image. I learned whilst working with film as my medium and the final processing was done in the dark room, airbrushing was way to expensive and poring over a print with a paintbrush and ink very time consuming. I feel this has been an advantage as I didn’t do any skin smoothing on this image and in fact only had to remove one large pimple with the healing brush in CS4; in general I try to avoid skin smoothing particularly as I am still practicing that skill but luckily good make up and a good lighting design generally means I don’t need to spend the time.

Maybe I should charge extra for skin smoothing? …. Anyway here is the image up for discussion today.

If you want to see it larger and on black click this link

As the title suggests this is the basic light set up with a third light added. Three lights are all I own as well as the free natural light and so you won’t see me using more than 3 lights.

The key light is my Sunlite 40 with a Supersoft 600 diffuser which is my favourite light for Beauty and portraiture. This is positioned 5 ft from model, approximately 15 degrees above and 45 degrees stage left. I have chosen this distance to soften the light (See explanation by clicking here ), and reduce the spill onto the backdrop. I want to shoot at 125th of a second, old and senile and much shakier than I used to be, and I want an Aperture of F11, need medium depth of field. This means setting the lights at 3, not full blast ahead.

Fill Light is my 15″ (38cm) Soft-Lite Reflector (79 degree) and is positioned at a distance of 4ft from model, 15 degrees below and 45 degrees stage right. Wanting a balance to shadow at around a half stop distance the setting for the lights was 2. I have heard several younger photographers than I saying that they never use a light meter and that the histogram tells the story, maybe it does but I don’t know how to tell yet so I still have my trusty light meter and will take readings from highlights, mid tones and shadows.

The third light is a 4″ (10cm) Snoot Cone (15°) focused on the back of the model’s head at a distance of 5 feet, 15 degrees above and 45 degrees behind stage right. This conforms with the rule that says you should put your hair light on the opposite side to your key. I was also always told don’t be afraid to buck convention. This light was set at 2 also to just give a little separation between the backdrop and subject. So that‘s the light set up now on to processing.

Raw editor for contrast 40, vibrancy 25 and clarity 40. Into photoshop, saturation layer and with pipette selected lips to 8 on saturation. , sharpened using unsharp mask, cropped, framed and copy righted.Oh and I must not forget the pimple stage left jaw but NO skin smoothing

A Fun Image and it’s a simple lighting set up

My CS4 practice session started yesterday morning with this image at a suggestion by Andrew Kent, a fellow photographer, who didn’t like the treatment with Paint Shop Pro. He was right, I much prefer the result with CS4. I am still not sure about the black border but I think it suits for web display.

So first, here is the image

Now the lighting set up

This diagram was done with Strobox for my IPhone. Basic but needs explanation.

Light stage left was set at a distance of about 15 feet from the models and at a 50 degree angle. It was Sunlite 40 with a Supersoft 600 Diffuser attached. This normally gives a beautiful soft light but I wanted it a little harsher than for portraiture and I wanted contrast. Hence the reason for putting the light source that distance from the subject, knowing that all important rule – the further away the light source the harsher the light….remember the sun, couldn’t get much further away and very harsh. This is to be the main light so cranked it up so that i was getting a reading of F11 on the girls.

Second light stage right was set much close at about 7 ft from models at a 45 degree angle to models and balanced so that I was getting a 2:1 ratio to shadows. This balance also prevented unnecessary shadows on the wall from this fill light. This light source was a 15″ (38cm) Soft-Lite Reflector (79 degree).

Both light sources were above the model and looking down and at around 45 degrees.

Yes another CS4 in Raw editor and then into CS4 photoshop for a quick sharpen using unsharp mask. I also boosted the reds on a saturation layer prior to sharpening, cropped and copyrighted.

So that’s that one and thanks Andrew, it looks so much better and still makes me smile. Two hours it took for the make-up and they did it themselves. Plus Victorian Ragdoll made the clothes. My favourite though…..those red boots.

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Shrove Tuesday today and what will you give up tomorrow?

Yes lent starts tomorrow and in the past we were forced to give up fat and flour for forty days and forty nights and so we gorged ourselves on pancakes on Fat Tuesday. In my youth we used to give up something for lent but is the custom still so prolific in this age or is it just for Roman Catholics? I suppose we could compare this next 40 days to Ramadan if we had continued with the fat and flour ban.

I am giving up sugar in my tea…..what are you giving up?

Today’s picture is not about lent but this time of year reminds me of our trip to Tanzania and my desire to go back and visit Victoria Falls … so give me some work so that I can go.

The image was taken with my D100, which I am about to pass onto my youngest son, the light was not bright and I needed depth of field. We obviously couldn’t get out of the land cruiser and set up my tripod. Didn’t have a monopod at the time so set the camera for Aperture Priority at F16, shutter speed at 1/40th of a second on the buffalo meant having to brace against the sunroof. Got a few shots off and this was the best.

Processed in Paint Shop Pro boosting selective colours, levels and curves tweak and sharpened using unsharp mask. Cropped etc. At the time of shooting this I had not yet learned that shooting in RAW was essential for good digital photography processing and so this was a JPEG. Still love the result but might go back with CS4, who knows?

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