Daily Photo – Sarah in Hat

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 a head shot.

Exposure

  • Shutter: 1/250
  • Aperture:  f/5.6
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Lighting:  3 Zeus heads, one a a large softbox low camera right;  another in a beauty dish high camera right;  last one in a strip box camera left.

Composition and Processing

  • The hat was too tall in this shot, so while I planned to crop closer anyway, I ended up going in very tight to minimize the impact.
  • Little things can make a pretty big impact on how the face looks.  Compare this shot to the earlier one I took of Sarah, where her face is rounder and softer.  Adding the hat and bringing the hair in tighter to the face created much more angular lines and a harder look.  Both shots have a certain intensity in the eyes, but the emotions conveyed are completely different.
  • A minor aside about Canon’s 50mm L lens:  it definitely has a back focus problem.   This shot’s at f/5.6, but if you look closely the brim of the hat is soft.  I’m doubtful this was user error, given that all my studio shots of Sarah had this problem.  There’s a well documented history of back focus problems with this particular lens, so I’m not entirely surprised.  I’m just disappointed that it’s still an issue given how long this lens has been around and the absence of this problem on so many other L lenses.

Original:

April 28 2009 | Photography | 5 Comments »

Daily Photo – Lauren

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.

Last fall I took part in an advanced lighting workshop hosted by Christopher Ferguson and Steven Noreyko.  The workshop was a bit of a free for all — students chose the lighting, composition, pose, and so forth;  the instructors simply acted as assistants and would help only if we couldn’t solve a particular lighting problem.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/60
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO:  50
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Original:

Composition and Processing

  • This is one of those rare cases where I completely changed my mind about the crop during processing.  It would have worked as intended (horizontal, with Lauren at one end looking into the frame), but removing the black beam from the wall and reconstructing the uneven gradient sounded like too much work.  In the vertical crop, I still had a little room to push her to one side of the frame, but I mostly think it works because of all the lines running top to bottom (arms, legs, barstool and even neck are oriented that way).
  • Fellow student Gordon McGregor had just finished a nice profile shot of Lauren and I didn’t want to do anything that required too radical a change in lights.  Gordon’s shot was nice and relaxed;  I wanted something that had a bit more tension to it.  So I had Lauren sit on the very edge of the bar stool, leaning into the light and straining to keep her chin up as high as possible without actually looking up (in hindsight, I probably would have had her tilt her head away from the camera and close her eyes, to give the impression of pushing against the light itself).  I couldn’t get the light low enough on the stand to prevent her chin from casting shadows on her neck, so I simply lay the stand on the floor, with the light resting on a chair.
  • I processed this more on the cool side;  that matched the hard light and strong contrast better.

January 10 2009 | Photography | 1 Comment »

Daily Photo – Jen

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.

Last month Janus Anderson and I shot with Jen, a local model working on her portfolio.  I’ve shot with Jen before at a local photographer gathering, but I hadn’t been thrilled with the results.  That wasn’t Jen’s fault, who is very easy to work with — it was just the nature of the shoot.  This time around I thought I could do better.

  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO:  50
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
  • Lighting:  Zeus head in a beauty dish up high and to the right;  large gridded softbox almost to the floor, also on the right;  white reflector to the left.

Original:

Composition and Processing:

  • This was one of the last shots taken after a couple hours of shooting.  With the outfit Jen had on, I wanted something that was all black, with the hair and clothing blending into the background (this is similar to my approach with this shot of Brigitte, where the subject is defined by the visible portion of the skin, and everything else is negative space.)   However, I was getting a bit lazy at this point in the day, so rather than switch lighting and pull out the paper more, I simply threw down a 4 x 8 foam core sheet and had her sit on that.  I then made minor adjustments to the lights from previous setup and just went with that.  In hindsight I should have pull the roll out, because there was some added photoshop cleanup later that was a nuisance.
  • Model poses usually look a bit stiff and forced to me.  Which isn’t to say they aren’t interesting, but I often tend toward more casual looks.  For this shot I asked Jen to just relax as if she were hanging out, talking to someone, but to leave the arms on her right leg (comfortably).  That brought her head and body forward a bit, and the only further direction needed was to raise the chin (all of which changed her expression from “staring” to “interested”).

January 06 2009 | Photography | No Comments »