Daily Photo – Brigitte in Black and White

The Daily Photo series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

I had a chance to work with Brigitte before the Thanksgiving holiday this year.  We mostly shot out of the home studio and the surrounding area, taking advantage of the natural light until the sun went down before shifting to studio lights and backdrops.  Janus Anderson also took part in this shoot — his results can be seen here.

  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/8
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Lighting:  see below


Composition and Processing:

  • Lately I’ve been interested in really simple compositions that isolate the subject against either black or white.  And by simple, I mean only the skin and hair are used to identify the subject — everything else is run to black or completely blown out, including clothing (there’s probably a clever term for this, but I don’t know it).  I love this look:  there are no distractions, everything’s focused on the subject and the expression.
  • Of course, simple composition doesn’t necessarily mean simple setup.  I wanted really soft light for this, so I positioned two bare Zeus heads on each side of Brigitte and pointed them back in the direction of the camera, bouncing the light off of some white fabric I hung behind me and a couple of 4′ x 8′ sheets of foam core (creating a half circle of reflective material 8′ high).  To keep the lights from spilling onto Brigitte, I put 4′ x 8′ black foam core sheets between her and them (effectively creating a 3-side black box for her to stand in.
  • This shot isn’t bad in color, but black and white really enhances the texture of the hair and makes the eyes pop.  The black background matches and brings out the darker areas of the image, instead of just isolating the subject like it would in color.

January 04 2009 06:57 pm | Photography

2 Responses to “Daily Photo – Brigitte in Black and White”

  1. Jim Schofield on 22 Feb 2009 at 2:53 pm #


    Great processing. The final image was invisible in the flat lighting original. Having a cracking model also helps of course.

    Well done,


  2. KG on 23 Feb 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    Thanks. Yeah, it does help to have a great subject. Brigitte was wonderful to work with, and it shows in the wide range of compositions I got from her shoot.

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