Daily Photo – Sarah 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.

Sarah poses for this fashion-like studio shot.


  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/5.6
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Lighting:  Zeus head in beauty dish high up camera right;  another one in a giant gridded softbox low camera right;  third zeus head in a gridded strip box medium height camera left.

Composition and Processing

  • Sarah’s skin and hair were very light, so instead of aiming for an all white background (which wouldn’t have been much lighter in contrast), I aimed for a tone that was slightly darker.  I already had three lights illuminating Sarah substantially, so I adjusted the overall distance of the lights (and Sarah) from the background until the fall off achieved the effect you see here.  Also, rather than aim the softboxes to miss the background, I let them land more or less on it, lightening the area directly behind her.
  • I processed this a couple different ways and was happy with all of them.  I like the smooth transition of tones across boundaries in the black and white version (other than the black wrap);  you don’t get that in the others due to the contrasting color.  I also don’t care for the green shirt.  Nevertheless, most folks I’ve shown this image to prefer the color copies.

Color 1:

Color 2:


March 08 2009 05:18 pm | Photography

One Response to “Daily Photo – Sarah in Black and White”

  1. jenn on 08 Mar 2009 at 7:31 pm #

    I think I agree with you on the black and white, though if I had to pick one of the two colour shots I’d have to go with #2 if only because I find the green in #1 overwhelmingly distracting.

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