Daily Photo – Zack in Science Magazine

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 took this shot last spring of my friend Zack Simpson, and it apparently wound up in the December 19th issue of Science (as part of a profile piece on Zack).  I believe the concept was Zack’s;  I’ve included a couple variations below.

Exposure (projector lighting)

  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/2
  • ISO:  400
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Exposure (studio lighting)

  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/5.6
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon 85mm f/1.2L II USM
  • Lighting:  Canon 580EX II in 60″ softlighter camera left and up;  reflector in Zack’s hands

Final – Projector Lit:

Original – Projector Lit:

Final – Studio Lit:

Original Foreground – Studio Lit:

Original Background – Studio Lit (for that shot, not the lighting):

Composition and Processing (Projector Lit Shot)

  • The goal was to get the text on Zack without it making him look like an alien.  We tried a number of different looks, but ultimately decided to just display it on his shirt.  To achieve that, we opened several code windows, with a blank one in the upper right where it fell on his face (the text on his shirt isn’t from the same window as the text in the background).
  • Positioning the projector at an angle served a couple purposes:  first, it gave us a more appealing light on his face (i.e. not straight on, although a little fill could have helped the nose shadow);  second, it helped stretch the wall shadow far enough to the right that it could be cropped out of the final shot.
  • This was shot fairly wide open – at f/2 – in order to insure a bright enough exposure.  That blew out the background just enough to separate it from the subject, but not so much you couldn’t tell it was some sort of text (and likely the same as on his shirt).  Unintentional, but a nice bonus.

Composition and Processing (Studio Lit Shot)

  • In this instance I wanted more natural lighting on Zack (read:  regular studio lights), but doing so would blow out the wall image.  Even flagging it heavily looked too washed out.  So I took two separate shots and combined them:  one with the softlighter and no projector;  the other of the background with just the projector light.
  • The lighting for this shot is more appealing, but far less interesting than the projector shot (likewise for the pose).  I left it cropped wide so Zack could adjust it as he saw fit.

January 20 2009 09:55 pm | Photography

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