Before and After — Fixing A Total Loss

The Before and After 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.

Stephanie poses in an accidentally over-exposed photo.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 640
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • I’m usually pretty good at just guessing the exposure settings I need for a shot, but every now and then I go ridiculously wide of the mark.  I kind of liked the pose in this photo though, so I thought it would be worth seeing how far I could take it in post.
  • Once I’d brought the exposure down as far as I could in Lightroom, I had to acknowledge there was information missing from parts of the arms and face that simply wasn’t there.  The key then was to make sure the stuff that was in range was actually pushed up further relative to the blown out spots so they’d look less blown out by comparison.
  • I sometimes like this sort of crop with lots of negative space, but it has a secondary purpose here.  As above, having a lot of the image blown out to white de-emphasizes the blown out skin areas, making them tolerable.

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March 30 2012 | Photography | No Comments »

Before and After — Claire and Mariclaire

The Before and After 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.

Claire and Mariclaire (again) rehearsing for the KDH Dance Company.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/1000
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 1600
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • One of the first questions you might ask after seeing the settings is:  why such a high shutter and ISO?  Surely it would have been fine at 1/250 and ISO 400, or perhaps 1/250, ISO 800 and f/2.8.   And it would have been.  When shooting any sort of action, I find it helpful to have a base setting to shoot from, and then reserve one value I can change on the fly.  In this case I was shooting in a room that varied about two stops from one end to the other, so my base setting was what you see above only at 1/250.  And shutter speed was the value I chose to adjust on the fly, mostly because I wanted to control the depth of field (I didn’t want to go smaller than f/2.8 due to background distractions;  that wouldn’t leave me enough latitude in exposure and would have required changing a second value rapidly as well).  ISO was another consideration, but I’d have to change my camera’s UI to put that on one of the dials instead of, say, aperture or shutter (I’d really like to have 3 dials on the back of the camera now that ISO has become such a versatile tool).  So my settings were based on the darkest part of the room and my range for adjustment was along an axis that didn’t change composition.
  • I would have chosen this shot even if Mariclaire’s hands were simply holding Claire in place.  Nevertheless, catching them in motion adds a little bit of intent and energy to an otherwise static shot.  They’re also conveniently framed against the black clothing, making them all the more noticeable.

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March 01 2012 | Photography | No Comments »

Before and After — Number One

The Before and After 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.

Breeanna poses in the late afternoon light.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/500
  • Aperture:  f/4.0
  • ISO: 200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • This shot was taken toward the end of a long shoot and the sun was working it’s way down toward the horizon.  It was still pretty bright though, and we had blocked off all the windows to the right with large 4′ x 8′ black flats.  That left one set of floor to ceiling glass and some unusual shadows being cast from exterior items:  a balcony, a half wall, and the steel frames around the panels of glass.  I spotted the arrangement in the middle of moving gear around and stuck with it to try this shot.
  • While I wouldn’t want to have Breeanna stand perfectly straight, I did want her to put as many bends in her body as possible without going overboard.  Hence the bent knee, hooked arms to push out the elbows, dropped shoulder, tilted head…the idea was to offer non-linear shapes to match the rigid internal framing caused by the shadows.

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February 29 2012 | Photography | No Comments »