August 31, 2010

All About the Light

Without a doubt, the subject matter is messy—too many destracting details and probably not a clear subject matter.  But, this scene it not about the specifics—it’s about the light.  I saw the golden light on the shrimp boat and the blues of the water and sky.  Two great complementary colors is what I saw and what I tried to convey in the image.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 shot at 135mm, ISO 200, f/11 and 1/80th of a second.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points, added clarity and increased contrast.
Photoshop—used spot healing to clean-up various ugly spots and added saturation to blue and orange.

August 28, 2010

Sunset at Kemah Boardwalk

While JD was visiting her niece last week, I met a friend for dinner at the Kemah Boardwalk.  We planned on taking a few sunset and night shots before eating.
The sunset was really nice, except for all the stuff between me and the sunset.  I was feeling a little frustrated over all the “stuff” that was then in my frame but then decided to make the photo more about the whole scene rather than just the sunset.
I used HDR—seven photos at a range of +3 EV to -3 EV.  I combined the photos using Photoshop CS5 rather than my normal approach of using Photomatix Pro.  This is the first time that I have used Photoshop CS5’s HDR and, I must admit, it did take some playing around to get the image the way that I wanted it.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 shot at 56mm, ISO 200, f/11 and 1/40th to ½ of a second on a tripod and set white balance to tungsten lighting to bring out the blue in the sky.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Adjusted white balance on all seven photo to be used in Photoshop CS5 to where I wanted the overall color tint.
Photoshop—Used HDR to combine seven images and added mid tone contrast to image.  

August 24, 2010

BAPC Field Trip—Portraits #8

Today’s post of Crystal is my last from the BAPC portrait field trip.  Before I took this shot, I knew that I wanted three things:  dad was only going to be a prop, the photo was going to be about emotion and the photo would work best in black and white. 
I knew that there was many things working against me getting the photo I wanted:  dad was wearing a light blue shirt and Crystal was wearing a relatively bright orange shirt.  Neither shirt would help me achieve what I wanted.  I arranged dad’s and Crystal’s arms so that they would form a nice diagonal across the entire frame.  I positioned the light to camera right and I feathered it so that it fell softly on Crystal’s face. 
Crystal is a natural in front of the camera.  She has no hesitation about looking straight into the lens—which is exactly what I wanted—that look connects her perfectly with the viewer.
I used nik Silver Efex to convert the photo to black and white.  When I took the photo, I was pretty sure that I would be able to use the red or orange filters—which act the same as red and orange filters with black and white film—to darken dad’s shirt.  The filter did lighten Crystal’s shirt, but I felt that I could live with that.  Overall, I pretty well got the look and feel that I wanted.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3x, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 shot at 70mm, ISO 200, f/9.5 and 1/60th of a second with large Elinchrom softbox to camera right and feathered slightly.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points, adjusted saturation of various colors, added mid-tone contrast and vignetting.
Photoshop—used nik Silver Efex Pro to convert the photo to black and white.

August 20, 2010

BAPC Field Trip—Portraits #7

Today’s post is a portrait of Ashley.  Her instructions to me were simple:  “make me look good.”  Not a hard task considering what I had to work with!
I wanted the viewer’s focus to go immediately to her face and expression.   As a result, I wanted very shallow depth-of-field so I selected 3.3 as my f-stop.  I can usually get most of the face in focus with this f-stop at 70mm yet convert the background into a nice soft blur.
I elevated my Elinchrom light so that most of the light actually went above her head—I used only a small portion of the light to illuminate her face.   
What should I have done to make this an even better portrait of Ashley?  First, I would have made sure that her necklace was hanging properly.  Next, I would have had her look a little more at the camera (somewhere between where she is looking and straight at the lens).  I think that this eye position would have increased the relationship between Ashley and the viewer.   Finally, I would have added a hair light to add greater separation between her and the background.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3x, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at shot at 70mm ISO 200, f/3.3 and 1/125th of a second.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points, added clarity and mid-tone contrast.
Photoshop—Removed stray hairs, used nik Color Efex Pro Glamour Glow filter at 35% opacity.

August 17, 2010

BAPC Field Trip—Portraits #6

Friday’s post of Fred’s portrait was one of Catherine and me (I am the one without the great smile and the natural good looks).  Today, I want to post a photo of Catherine and her father.
My photo does not include the emotion of Fred’s but it does offer a great example of contrast—smiling Catherine and a very serious dad.  The reason that this photo works, at least for me, is because both people are very much “in character.”  They are doing what you would expect of a daughter and father.  It tells a little story of who they are.
As I look at the photo, I think it is all about Catherine and her supporting cast—dad.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3x, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 shot at 62mm, ISO 200, f/8 and various 1/30th of a second.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points, cropped photos, and changed and added saturation of certain colors.

August 13, 2010

BAPC Field Trip—Portraits #5

This is not a photo that I took during the field trip.  This photo was taken by Fred Cerkan, a fellow Bay Area Photo Club member.  Here is the message that Fred wrote me:

 I think this was one of my best images of the night. 
Thanks for the workshop.

I do not think that I have ever seen a photo that Fred has taken of a person before he sent me this one.  As I looked at the image, I tried to figure out why Fred thought this was one of his best.  And then, it dawned on me—there is more than the likeness of two people in this photo.  There is some interaction.  There is some real emotion.  It is fun to look at the image.  So, is there a lesson here.  Yep, there is, but I will let you figure it out on your own. 

The only thing that I did to the image is to crop it into a 4x5 format (the one that I prefer for portraits).


August 10, 2010

BAPC Field Trip—Portraits #4

I must admit, this portrait was a race against the sun—and the sun ultimately won.  Danielle and Eric were my last models of the night and light was quickly fading.  I moved away from the warehouse so that I could get a little more ambient light into the photo, but that was not enough.  I had to shoot the photo at 1/15th of second.  Very slow shutter speed for a hand held shot, but the flash helped to make the photo sharp by freezing Danielle and Eric.
In the photo I wanted very little separation between them.  I moved them as close together as I could.  I had Danielle closer to the light for two reasons:  her skin tone was a little darker than Eric’s so it would look more evenly exposed if it was closer than Eric; and, Eric had a white shirt on, which would be a lot of white too near the light source.
Considering the falling light and the short amount of time that I had with them, I was pretty pleased with the result.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3X, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 shot at ISO 200, f/8 and 1/15th of a second with Nikon SB-800 in small softbox at camera left.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points and cropped photos.
Photoshop—used nik Color Efex Pro soft focus filter to give the image a little softer look.

August 6, 2010

BAPC Field Trip—Portraits #3

Sometimes portraits are more about the person’s personality than their face.  In this portrait of Catherine, I wanted to show-off her brightly painted finger nails.  I thought that the finger nails would add some of her personality to the photo.
I underexposed the background by about 1½ f-stops so that all the attention would be drawn to Catherine.  I wanted the photo to be about her eyes and painted finger nails.  I was happy with the exposure and the basic elements of the photograph, but I should have had Catherine spread the fingers of her left hand so that all of her left eye was exposed and also had her place her hands more gentle on her face in order not push on her face. 
Camera settings:  Nikon D3X, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 shot at 70mm, ISO 200, f/8 and 1/180th of a second with Elinchrom Softbox at camera left.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—Set black and white points, increased mid-tone contrast and changed saturation of various colors.

August 3, 2010

BAPC Field Trip—Portraits #2

My next portrait from the field trip is one of Amy.  This portrait may have been the most challenging one I took all night.  Why?  Well, Amy is so tiny and seemed quite shy that I had a hard time framing her—there was just not enough of her to fill the frame.  Part of my problem was that I really had no idea of how the image should look.  I tried various things, but did not like anything that I was getting.  In desperation, I started to study Amy’s face and think about how to photograph it.
Here, I must say that I think this is a habit that many photographers follow—keep shooting until you get something rather than seeing the image and then going about creating it. 
After studying Amy’s face I decided that I wanted to show-off that great completion, color and bone structure.  I took a high to low camera angle to simplify the image and help get light into her eyes.  Because she is so slight, I had no problem broad lighting her—lighting the largest part of the face.  In hindsight, I wished that I had moved her hair back on the left side of the camera so that her great cheek and jaw line would be set-off against the background better.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3X, Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 at 52mm, ISO 200, f/5.6 and 1/60th of a second with Elinchrom large softbox at camera right and feathered towards her right cheek.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom—set white and black point, increased contrast with a tone curve adjusted hue and saturation of various colors.