Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Photographers prefer Brunettes

Professional, beautiful, easy to work with, on time. What could I ask for more? Oh yes a great stylist.

The b/w was done with the model reclining on the couch (Pillow is for Posture!). Flood high above turned down quite a bit. 50mm at f2.5, 1/160th, ISO100. Tiny flash (and stylist!) hiding just a foot behind. Photoshop: add a layer with a 10px gaussian blur, mask eyes and lips. Fix small blemishes on the main photo. Merge layers. Unsharp mask. A little subtler than previous attempt.

Red Shirt: Easy. Vivitar high on camera left, power 1/16th. added mini softbox. White reflective board at lower right. I almost botched the shot though. Best focus is on lips rather than eyes!

High Key: The big softbox set up as discussed a couple of posts ago. A little off center so the left side gets less light. Or I could have added a semi transparent gobo. f2.5

Model: Robin

Stylist: Kristin Von Klaret

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lighting for Portraiture: Combination 8

"Lighting for Portraiture (Walter Nurber, The Focal Press, 1948) is a classic manual for "Retro" portraits. Each pose is illustrated in painful detail ..all 64 of them. The book is written for tungsten lighting, but it can easily be used with modern strobes. I really like this book, got from Amazon for $15. So I decided to slowly reproduce every combination. It will take a while.
We start with C8, which is good for men. Picture and diagram as follow.

Camera set on 1/160th/f6.8/ISO100. 50mm lens.
- 800wsec Flood: 1/16th at 35deg, 10 feet from subject, 6feet from ground. light "feathering" body and face.

- Vivitar: 1/16th, on the ground, 2feet from dark wall, pointing up, gobo to limit light towards ceiling.

Note for 'd be models: to get the right look stare at the camera and turn eyes left and up, keeping neck still.
Framing the shoulder on camera left is important for the mood of the shot. Keeping the flood as far as possible makes shadows harder. Nose shadow: do not let it touch the upper lip (a capital crime in the 40ies...). The original portrait used a snoot on the flood light so the look is a little more low key and dramatic there.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Looking Rita

One more "Retro" portrait.
The light scheme is straightforward, with camera setting: 40mm, ISO100, 1/160th, f10? The neck shadow took a bit to get right. The flood should have been further back for stronger shadows.

The soft focus effect was achieved in Photoshop.

- some basic cloning for skin blemishes
- Gaussian blur 10px
- Gaussian Fade 50%
- unsharp m. at 120%
- added bluish duotone.

The lights setting is similar to the "Bogart" set, but not quite. The flood is set much higher over the model.

Model: Brittney Bush Bollay.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Close Ups

This is a rather "en vogue" style for portraiture these days, easy to achieve if you have a softbox (or a ringflash). Of course having a subject with big eyes helps......
So this is how I did it.

The trick it is to keep subject, lens, light as close as possible to each other.

0) I mounted a 50mm lens on your camera. My settings were: 1/160th,ISO100,f1.8 (or the smallest fstop you can afford). That will make your depth of field SMALL. We are talking a fraction of an inch. The subject's nose and the eyebrows will be decidedly unsharp. Eyes have to be as sharp as possible for the portrait to work.

1) place subject seated in front of the largest softbox you have.
1b) use a uniform, white/light gray background.
2) place camera eye level as close as possible to subject while you can still focus (likely a couple of feet)
3) place softbox behind camera as close as possible to it.
4) use spot focusing on the subject eyes. Not the nose bridge!
5) take picture.


- turn down red, magenta by %20. Increase blue by 10-20% This will increase skin detail.
- use curves to brighten mid-high tones. Darken the dark tones a bit.
- burn dark contour lines a bit (chin, neck)
- dodge eyes and hair a bit.
- unsharp mask the whole pic by at least 100%.

Wonder if I should have used a brigther background.

Model Credit: Brittney

Friday, October 12, 2007

How does he do this?

This is a self portrait of photographer Kevin Kertz.
How does he get the cartoonish look? I have seen this style around... I like it and will try to find out how it is done.

(added note: maybe the High Pass Filter is involved)

The New Bogart

This image is a remake of a famous portrait of Humphrey Bogart, taken in 1942 by "Scotty" Welbourne. (will post the original as well).

I did not have a light trenchcoat so the background is dark. The setting is simple: a low key (nose shadow) on camera right, a more central fill, and a kicker for the back.


-blurred the lower part of the trenchcoat+tie over 1-2 pixels.
-added a bluish duotone

I like the final image, but think the results are mixed and I would do better now:

- lighter background and coat 'd have made shadows more dramatic
-I can't really see the back kicker...
- the mouth shadow is too horizontal and "Joker like"
-I could have emphasized the eye wrinkles more if the key had been more on camera right.
- I did get the key height right though, the nose shadow is good.

The light scheme is at the top. (Used the Kertz psd file!)

Model Credit: Chris.

Ligthing Diagrams

I have found two ways of setting light diagrams.

Neat Flash Diagrams can be created and then accessed on the web at www.sdgphoto.com/lightingstudio

A library of Photoshop simbols has been developed by Kevin Kertz. He is a really great photographer with a very modern look. Some examples can be found here.

The Studio

My studio is about 230 sq.feet, with a 12' ceiling and 4 large windows on 2 sides and wood floors. The equipment is in between the minimalism of "the Strobist" and that of a professional studio.

As for Dec 2008 (updated)


Strobes: 2 x800wsec 1 x 400wsec (Alien Bees)
1 Vivitar 285HV
1 Canon 580x II
2 Qflashes

Light modifiers:

1 large Octabox (Alien Bees)
1 rectangular softbox (Alien Bees)
1 snoot (the 6$ PVC DIY version)
1 white reflector

Electronics and Glass:
Rebel XT '06
50mm f1.8 Canon lens.
24-70mm f2.8 Canon
those cheapo Honk Hong wireles triggers. 3 slaves+ 1 master.
2 Pocket Wizards

Hardware (like in steel..): a great ceiling rail system I got from an Amvona super sale.



We are talking about $4.5k total.