Friday, October 31, 2008

2 New Portraits

So - something a bit different. I've enjoyed doing portraits for a while now. Before I started this photo thing, I really like painting them. There's just something really nice about working with people and expressions and light, and even though I'm trained as an architect, I find working with people much more engaging than the hard rational line or, for that matter, the landscape . Here's a couple recent experiments:

The first photo is taken with Maria under a tree, back lit by the setting sun, with a bit of on camera fill flash on her face. The ambient is intentionally underexposed, so the flash on her face pops a bit. I used several Photoshop masks/photo-filters to darken and cool the edges of the photo and also to warm the light on her face. My intent was only to enhance the original capture, so the final here is not really unlike the original.

The second image is a studio shoot with Rachel. I lit her face with a single soft-box. The backdrop was lit by a speed-light that was gelled with a light blue gel to give the background a tone similar to her eye color. Overall I like the image, but I was going for a specific look, so the original capture needed a bit more PS work. Take a look at Platon to get an idea about what I was up to. I love the way he lights his subject and the background "correctly". His subjects seem to be enveloped in the light and not just lit by it. My favorite aspect of his work is that he is using a very simple, often single, light set up. I'm really in favor of this non-gearcentric approach and just learning to do a few things really well. I think it allows him to concentrate on his subject and releases him from fussing with his equipment. A couple things that I noted about his images while trying to reproduce the effect:

First, the single light that he uses appears a bit higher, so the light is a bit more raking. This brings out a bit more detail in the skin - not very flattering maybe - and with Rachel's smooth skin it may not have made a difference. I do think the higher light does add some weight to the images.

Second, the light on the backdrop doesn't reflect to create a hair light effect on the subject allowing a crisp line that separates the sitter from the background. I had a lot of trouble getting this balance right in my little studio and still haven't figured out how to spot the background effectively yet. I'm sure that Platon does some PS work to get the final pics, but not what I had to go through. Anyway - love this stuff, and looking forward to doing more of it. Any takers? Drop me a note.

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