Daily Photo – Stephanie at the W take 2

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.

Here’s another one from the shoot Stephanie and I did around the W last fall, around the corner from this shot here.  In this instance, the sun is directly behind her and hasn’t quite set yet, although she’s in the shade because of the construction awning overhead.


  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/2
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM


Composition and Processing:

  • There’s a temptation with models to really tweak the skin in Photoshop, usually with a tool like Portraiture that provides smoothing of specific color ranges while leaving everything else alone.  I’m as guilty as anyone of excessive Portraiture use.  Nevertheless, I think natural light in black and white calls for a little more texture at times.  In this case, just enough to reveal small freckles on Stephanie’s face and some additional detail in the arms and hands.  Overall, that makes it less fashion and a bit more natural.
  • I took a series of shots with Stephanie leaning against the wall of the construction walkways while the sun was at her back.  Some of them were just test shots, and to be honest, this may have been one as well.  The hands and mouth suggest she’s in transition from one pose to another.  Nevertheless, this is my favorite from this segment of the shoot, partly because she seems almost surprised by the shot, and partly because of the lines suggested by her arms and hands (which direct attention to the face).
  • The background is blown out here, intentionally, but it doesn’t look like she’s standing in front of a white backdrop in the studio.  That may be because she’s lit mostly by ambient light (the only obvious reflected light is on her hair), and we’re not used to seeing that kind of light distribution from studio shots.  That’s my theory, at least.  I may try to recreate it in the studio at some point though, just to see if it can be done.

January 08 2009 10:45 pm | Photography

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