Daily Photo – Samantha 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.

This simple composition is from the advanced lighting workshop put on by Christopher Fergusen and Steven Noreyko last fall.  It’s a good example of a complicated — and failed — lighting setup.  It ultimately wound up being another in a series of shots making use of negative space, but that wasn’t my intent when I original took it.


  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/8
  • ISO:  100
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Lighting:  I don’t recall the brand of strobe at this point, but…Gridded beauty dish overhead;  two additional gridded lights focused on empty spots on the floor in the background.

Composition and Processing

  • The original plan for this shot was to light Samantha in a tight (but not harsh) light on the floor.  For the background, I wanted a couple hard spots lighting empty areas of the floor.  I liked the notion of framing the subject in a small circle of light, but felt that providing empty regions, off center, would further emphasize the isolation.  I still think that could work, but we struggled to created distinct enough regions of light — they bled together, even with 10 degree grids — and we didn’t have the gear to orient them more vertically overhead.
  • At this resolution, her skin looks over-smoothed.  It’s not though– at full size you still see quite a bit of texture there.  I always process for the largest size (in this case, a width of 4547 pixels, not the 600 wide image you see here or the 800 wide one on flickr), but it highlights one of the challenges of presenting work in more accessible places.


February 04 2009 07:19 pm | Photography

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