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 – Lauren and Friends

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.

Lauren at Opal Divines, along with three photographers acting as background models.

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:  sb800 through a 42″ white reflector acting as a scrim, camera right.

Composition and Processing

  • There were two things I wanted to try with this shot:  first, using people as a background, much like this previous shot of Lauren;  and second, using both light and depth of field to create separation with the background (hopefully at about the same rate).  Lauren is definitely brighter than her companions, but probably not by enough to make this work.  However, she’s definitely sharper by a fair amount and this does seem to de-emphasize the others (turning them from co-subjects into scenery).
  • For the pose itself, I wanted Lauren clearly seated at the table with the rest, but wanted her “looking out of the scene” to match the lighting and depth of field.  She’s meant to be sharing a moment with the viewer, whose presence the others aren’t even aware of (breaking the 4th wall in a sense).
  • For a single strobe, this looks remarkably like natural light.  That’s a testament to what you can do with a large enough scrim and a well positioned flash.  I left the white balance a little warm to imply morning sunlight and further reinforce the illusion.

Original:

February 26 2009 | Photography | No Comments »

Daily Photo – Lauren in Line

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.

Lauren, at Opal Divines, seated between fellow photographers Christopher, Gordon and Robin.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/5.6
  • ISO:  100
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Lighting:  sb800 through 42″ reflector as scrim camera left;  bare sb800 providing some fill camera right.

Composition and Processing

  • The goal for this shot was to use people as a background.  Because Lauren’s essentially in the same plane as the rest, I created separation by seating her, and then cropping the rest of the group to eliminate their heads.  I figured that would reinforce her as the focus of the image, and by making everyone else faceless, they ceased to be subjects and became part of the background instead.
  • I processed the skin tones to be a bit more yellow than usual.  I thought that would match the nice red wall behind Lauren.

Original:

February 15 2009 | Photography | No Comments »