Daily Photo – Brigitte in Thought

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.

Brigitte poses for a studio shot last November.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/1.4
  • ISO:  50
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Lighting:  Zeus head in 60″ softlighter above camera right;  second bare zeus head on white backdrop;  4? x 8? foamcore as reflector camera left.

Composition and Processing

  • I often like to amp the exposure beyond what’s necessary for the shot.  While it tends to remove a lot of information, particularly skin texture, it also simplifies the image and removes distractions.  The image is thus reduced to it’s most basic elements, usually the only relevant parts of the composition.  One of my early mentors in game design used to say a good design is measured more by what you take out (or leave out) than what you put in.  This photo, like many of my shots, was composed and processed with that in mind.
  • A typical portrait shoot for me involves about a dozen compositions, 10 – 20 shots apiece.  Some of that is tweaking the pose and lighting, but at least half the images are variations in expression.  This particular sequence was ten shots:  first with Brigitte’s head tilted up with the mouth barely cracked (head was too pointy at that angle);  then with the chin and gaze down, mouth closed (too somber);  finally with the chin down only slightly and the head barely tipped back away from the camera, with the expression changed to a more thoughtful look.  Each expression along the way was a very subtle derivation of the one before.  I think it’s good to have some sense of direction when you start, but by leaving the constraints a little loose, you can explore with the subject until you find something that works.

Original:

April 04 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Brigitte in the Window

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.

Brigitte poses for a shot in the hard light of the late afternoon sun.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/1000
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • I lined Brigitte up parallel with the windows to get all the lines running in the same general direction.  That is, I wanted all the vertical and horizontal lines from the window frame and chair to be in sync, forming a consistent backdrop against which Brigitte herself (with no straight lines at all) would stand out.  As a plus, the back of the chair bends slightly away to the left, balancing out Brigitte’s lean to the right.
  • Sometimes the best thing to do with hard light is to exagerate it further rather than fight it.  For this shot I blew out the highlights and made things ultra contrasty.  I even increased the noise (via a film grain plug-in) to add further grit and texture.  That all seemed to match the water-spotted window and dusty floor, not to mention the black and white dress Brigitte was wearing.

Original:

February 28 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Brigitte in Natural Light

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 a shot of Brigitte taken in November at the home studio (which is to say, my living room).

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/4
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • Even though this was taken indoors in a fairly small space, I wanted to create a sense of open-ness.  To do that I cropped to exclude window borders in order to imply they might extend much farther than the edge of the frame.  I also blew the image out to suggest much more light was streaming in than actually was (it’s getting close to sunset, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in the processed shot).
  • The window makes a nice frame for Brigitte, with clean vertical and horizontal lines.  The more interesting lines to me, and the reason I set this shot up, are the shadows running diagonally across the floor (from a short railing on the balcony out of frame to camera right;  like I said, the sun was low).  Those shadows create a kind of support for Brigitte and help add depth to the image, particularly since they get deeper in the foreground.  They also line up with the very faint shadow generated by Brigitte herself.

Original:

February 17 2009 | Photography | No Comments »