December 24, 2009

Dickens on the Strand #4

While doing many portraits over the last year, I have noticed a very difference between how females and males react in front of a camera. It does not seem to be affected by age.

In this photo, notice how relaxed and posed the young girl is and how the young boy seems to be more tense and suspicious he looks. For whatever reason, this seems to be the norm.

In this photo, I wanted to show how boys and girls react so differently.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D3, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 62mm shot at ISO 200, f/9.5 and 1/125th of a second with a SB800 with softbox attached right and left of subject and set to 1/8th and 1/16th power and triggered with AlienBee radio triggers.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—use nik Color Efex Pro soft focus filter to add minimium amount of soft focus to the overall image.

December 23, 2009

Dickens on the Strand #3

Today’s photos are of grandfather and granddaughter. I noticed the grandfather sitting on the bench watching everything going on around him. I thought his face and clothing would make for an interesting photo and the reflection in the window would add both context and depth to the image.

When I started photographing him, I immediately encountered a couple problems: reflections from his glasses, the strobes showing up in the window and finally the highly reflective nature of his shirt and cape. The first two were relatively easy to resolve by moving the strobes a little, however, I never really resolved the high reflection off of the shirt. Looking at the histogram, none of the shirt is blown-out, but yet, there is not enough detail in the shirt to make it look real.

In post processing, I used a black and white layer to tone down and mute brightness and intensity of the colors in his clothing.

Camera settings: Nikon D3, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 32mm shot at ISO 200, f/5.6 and 1/45th of a second with a SB800 with softbox attached right and left of subject and set to 1/4th and 1/16th power and triggered with AlienBee radio triggers.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—use nik Silver Efex to create a black and white layer and then reduced the opacity of the layer to 25% to reduce the brightness and intensity of the colors in his clothing.

The photograph of the granddaughter was much easier to light. I wanted part of the sign and the archway in the background and I wanted the lighting to look as if there was some side-lighting coming from the right. We positioned the main light at 1/4th power to the right and then added the second light at 1/32nd power to light under her hat and parasol.

Camera settings: Nikon D3, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 60mm shot at ISO 200, f/5.6 and 1/60th of a second with a SB800 with softbox attached right and left of subject and set to 1/32nd and 1/4th power and triggered with AlienBee radio triggers.

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—use nik Color Efex Pro soft focus filter at a very low level.

Enjoy.

December 22, 2009

Dickens on the Strand #2

Meet Kelly. Steve and I took her photograph last year, and to be honest, in spite of having a really great subject, we did not do a very good job. What was the problem? Well, we did not do a very good job controlling the background. In my photo, I had tent supports growing out of Kelly’s head. I changed the background and ended-up with a very nice photo of her, but, the original photo was just not that good. You can see the post of last year’s photo and the altered background here.

When Steve and I saw Kelly at this year’s Dickens on the Strand, we both rushed over to her to make amends. We immediately started looking for a background that would complement her and her clothes. Steve photographed her in landscape mode and included very little of her clothing. You can see his portrait here.

I wanted to show more of her so I photographed her in portrait mode and included enough background to establish her position relative to a building. I really like the vanishing lines of the background and thought that they played well off of Kelly.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D3, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 50mm shot at ISO 200, f/6.7 and 1/250th of a second with a SB800 with softbox attached right and left of subject and set to ½ and ¼ power and triggered with AlienBee radio triggers.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—Cloned-out part of a sign in the upper right corner and used nik Color Efex Pro soft focus filter at 35% opacity to soften Kelly.

December 21, 2009

Dickens on the Strand #1

I recently finished processing photographs that I took at Dickens on the Strand in early December. I must admit that I was disappointed in my work at Dickens on the Strand and at the Texas Renaissance Festival in November. I felt that neither session produced the quality of photographs that I did last year. I know that I understand lighting and basic posing much better this year than I did last year, but, the fact is the photos from last year sessions were better.

I have been studying both last year’s and this year’s photos to see if I could determine why last year’s photos were better. After a while I noticed something very interesting: last year, I generally took 10-15 photos of each subject whereas this year, I usually took only 5-7 shots of each subject. Because I have gained more skill at lighting a portrait over the last year, I know that I am able to get the exposure I want much quicker, but, then my photos this year were worse. Why?

I thought about a Joe McNally seminar I recently attended. Joe, who knows significantly more than I will ever know about photography and lighting, would start each portrait session very simply and then would tweak his lighting ever so slightly until he got what he wanted and then he would start working with his subject. I was quite surprised how he worked each situation until he got what he wanted.

At the Renaissance Festival and Dickens on the Strand, I did not work the situation. I got the lighting right and then I stopped. As a result, I got photos that were generally properly exposed, but nothing more than that.

What attracted Steve, Doug and me to this man was his unusual eye glasses. We decided that the red building would be a great background, but there was a considerable difference between his exposure in the shade and the building in the bright sun. I got the shot relatively quickly and then decided to shoot only part of his face and the glasses. On the second shot, I got luck to include the face of someone else.

However, here is where I should have continued working the scene. Image a shot where I positioned his wife, who was dressed in a interesting Victorian dress a few feet behind him and positioned her so that she was what was being magnified by his eye glass pieces. I could then light his face and her. The photo would have then been about what we found most interesting to begin with.

I hope I learned something from this, but, knowing me, I will have to learn this lesson a few times over before it will stick with me.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D3, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 42mm shot at ISO 250, f/9.5 and 1/250th of a second with a SB800 with softbox attached right and left of subject and set to ½ and ¼ power and triggered with AlienBee radio triggers.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

December 18, 2009

Candid Photos from India #15

Today’s photo is another from a market. In this photo, I wanted to show his pose, his expression and his environment.

After trying several different crops, I concluded that a square crop worked best.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 42mm shot at ISO 250, f/8 and 1/60th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex tonal contrast filter to add contrast to highlight, mi-tones and shadows and bring out all the textures in the scene.

December 17, 2009

Candid Photos from India #14

I was watching a lady prepare flowers for a wedding when I heard: “you’re nothing but a hound dog. . . crying all the the time.” Naturally, I had to follow the music. I walked about a half a block and found this man playing nothing but Elvis music over his stereo.

He spoke very, very little English, so trying to understand why the Elvis music was playing was next to impossible to discover. Regardless, I think with the music playing and a poster of Elvis prominently displayed, one thing is evident: Elvis is indeed the King!

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm shot at ISO 100, f/5.6 and 1/90th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex tonal contrast filter to add contrast to highlight, mi-tones and shadows and then cloned-out various minor distractions.

December 16, 2009

Candid Photos from India #13

Within all Indian markets, there is a collection of food vendors who prepare unusual dishes on the spot. The smells of these dishes were amazing—I must admit that neither JD or I tried any of them because, well, to be honest, we just were afraid of getting the famous “Delhi Belly.” Almost everyone we know that have been to India had at least one episode of “Delhi Belly.” We were determined not to get it; and, fortunately, because of being very careful, neither one of us got it.

Even though I never had any intention of eating anything from any of these vendors, I did enjoy smelling the food and watching them prepare them. The chef in this photo had long lines of people lined-up to eat his food, and in all honesty, it looked and smelled wonderful.

I wanted the photo to be about his world of food.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 28mm shot at ISO 100, f/5.6and 1/30th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

December 15, 2009

Candid Photos from India #12

The forts, museums, temples and mosque of India were all quite revealing, but, for my money, give me a good local market. Walking through all the open air markets was a treat to all the senses. Each turn offered something different.

In today’s photo, I wanted to capture the overall environment. The lady was very particular about her vegetables. She would carefully rearrange everything after each customer had sorted through the various offerings. I was not really surprised by the high quality of vegetables that I saw throughout India, since most Indian meals are primarily composed of vegetables.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 45mm shot at ISO 400, f/5.6 and 1/30th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity and reduced noise.

Photoshop—used a curves layer to reduce brightness of two door openings within photo.

December 14, 2009

Candid Photos from India #11

As I was walking down the street, I noticed this man. Two things stood-out to me about him: how he seemed totally alone even though he was among lots of people and his pose (it just did not seem a very natural pose).

I wanted the photo to be only about him. I waited for the background to clear, but after ten minutes, I concluded that it would never be very clear, so I changed my plan. I tried to use the smallest depth of field (and still keep him totally in focus).

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 65mm shot at ISO 200, f/4 and 1/100th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex tonal contrast filter to add contrast to highlight, mi-tones and shadows to the man’s clothing and then added a layer to de-saturate the colors of the background.

December 11, 2009

Candid Photos from India #10

This is one of those “better to be lucky than good” shots. I was walking down the street and a cart was blocking part of the sidewalk and so I stopped and looked to my left. I saw this guy squatting in the street. I raised my camera and fired three shots off. To my eye, everything seemed to go together—his pose, the bicycle in front of him, the color combination and finally his expression.

I did not have any thought about this photo before and while I was taking it other than, “get the shot.”

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm shot at ISO 200, f/4.8 and 1/125th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

December 10, 2009

Candid Photos from India #9

This lady was selling tea just outside the train station, and although she does not look it, she was a bout as sweet a woman as you will ever meet. JD and I stopped and had some tea and she had to tell us all the things that we should and should not do on the train. After talking to her for about 15 minutes, I fully expected her to tell us to call her when we got there.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm shot at ISO 200, f/2.8 and 1/80th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex tonal contrast filter to add contrast to highlight, mi-tones and shadows to her dress.

December 9, 2009

Candid Photos from India #8

While waiting for our “on time” train, I spotted this gentleman. He seemed so relaxed and patient with everything going on around him. In this photo, I really like his pose and his gaze towards a track that does not have our “on time” train. I also like the crowds in the background—they seemed to really add context to the overall image.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm shot at ISO 400, f/2.8 and 1/60th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

December 8, 2009

Candid Photos from India #7

After visiting Orchha, our next stop was Agra (and the Taj Mahal) which required that we travel to Agra by train.

The train was scheduled to leave at 7:30 PM. Now, the operative phrase here is “scheduled.” When we arrived at the station, our guide informed us that the train was on time. I looked at my watch and thought “we cut that a little close” because the train will be her in less than fifteen minutes. Well, 7:30 came and went. 8:00 came and went. 8:30 came and went. Finally, I asked our guide: “I thought that you said the train was on time, yet it is an hour late. What is going on?” He very patiently explained “it really isn’t late until it is over 3 hours past the scheduled time.” Now, that cleared everything up.

Today’s photo is all about things standing out. As we arrived at the place to wait for the train, I immediately noticed this lady in pink. Normally, you see bright colors everywhere in India, but for some reason, in the train station most of the women were wearing less colorful clothing. Naturally, I was drawn to the bright pink.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm shot at ISO 400, f/4 and 1/250th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex tonal contrast filter to add contrast to highlight, mi-tones and shadows of her clothing.

December 7, 2009

Candid Photos from India #6

Today’s photo comes from Orchha which is a relatively small town in India. We had stopped in Orchha to have lunch and visit a museum and an old fort. We were crossing a bridge to the fort (I was occupied with photographing monkeys that were running around on the bridge) when we almost ran into this Sadhus.

The Sadhus was totally occupied with feeding the cow some flowers. I do not even think he saw us.

I wanted the photo to show the Sadhus’ gentle nature.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 60mm shot at ISO 100, f/8 and 1/50th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex tonal contrast filter to add contrast to highlight, mi-tones and shadows to Sadhus’ clothes and the cow.

December 4, 2009

Candid Photos from India #5

Today’s photo is all about expressions. In this photo I wanted to highlight the look on the women’s faces. Their faces seemed to tell many stories and had a quite dignity to them.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 at 100mm shot at ISO 100, f/8 and 1/50th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex tonal contrast filter to add contrast to highlight, mi-tones and shadows.

December 3, 2009

Candid Photos from India #4

Although people praying is the most common scene that I observed while taking the boat ride, you also saw many people doing ordinary things, like washing dishes, doing laundry or even bathing.

In this photo, I really like two things: the ordinary act of this man washing his lunch pale and the eye contact between him and the camera. That’s everything that I wanted to show in this image.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 at 155mm shot at ISO 100, f/5.6 and 1/100th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex Pro to add contrast to selected parts of the image and then increased overall saturation of colors slightly.

December 2, 2009

Candid Photos from India #3

Before I discuss today’s photos, I must explain that all of the photos of the morning-prayer session were taken from a boat. We toured up and down the river in an old wooden boat looking at both the architecture and the people.

Today’s images are of some Hindu priests. I sat and watched these men for some time before finally taking their photo. In truth, I never really came to a clear idea as to what I wanted to do with the photos. Usually when I do that, I end up with little more than garbage, but for some unknown reason, the photos seemed to work. Go figure!

I like how the early morning light gives the priests a warm glow and how the light is reflected off the water.

Enjoy.

Camera settings: Nikon D200, Nikon 70-300mm f/2.8 at 300mm shot at ISO 100, f/6.7 and 1/90th of a second.

Post Processing:

Lightroom—Set white and black points, added mid-tone contrast, added clarity and cropped images.

Photoshop—used nik Color Efex tonal to add contrast to highlights, mid-tones and shadows of various parts of the image.