As technology becomes more and more accessible our clients are becoming increasingly more aware of what is possible with image retouching software like Photoshop. I asked a client of mine about a recent shoot they had with another photographer, their response was painfully honest. “We loved his lighting and ideas but when we got the images back we weren’t happy with his Photoshopping. The skin on the model looked awful. As a photographer you should be able to offer both fantastic photography and great retouching all in one package. We won’t be using him again”. This was an unprovoked response and I made no leading questions about retouching but it does prove to me that from a clients point of view, its about the final image not what you did to get there. In my field clients are expecting to receive a ‘perfect’ image, they are expecting to see flawless skin, tidy hair and sparkling eyes. Some of them may not realise that these images have had any retouching done at all, they may even believe it comes out of the camera like that but they are expecting to see it looking perfect regardless of how it got there.
In the past this swirly visual effect had been the money-train for Lomo and their Petzval lenses in the form of the 85mm and the soon to be publicly available 58mm. I own a lot of the Lensbaby lenses and I’ve been very pleased with the resulting optical effects from their previous products so I was certainly pleased to hear Lensbaby were taking a crack at the swirly bokeh effect now too.
Sometimes, getting a sweet lighting setup is a matter of pure luck and this is the case with this setup. I’ll collect setups like tools, so this one is just another tool in my toolbox now. Anyways, back to the story.
Here is my issue, taking a portrait whist using a single key light and reflector and fighting with the reflector in one hand and the camera in the other cant be something unique to me. You know what I am talking about, super quick and clean ‘clamshell’ lighting with the key just above the models eyeline and the reflector just below the chin bouncing some well needed light back up to fill in the shadows. This means micromanaging the reflector with your left hand (assuming you are a righty) while trying to bounce just the right amount of light back into the shot. There is really no way out of this not-enough-hands-mess: you’re scooping, flapping, bouncing and bending the damn thing around the key-light stand with one hand desperately trying to look professional. The result? I wish I could say that I mastered it but when I load the images up on the laptop I find that half the damn shots have an annoying reflector part peeking in the bottom of the frame! Not good.
A while back I found myself in a pinch. The setup included a model, and two hair lights positioned behind her and a reflector bouncing light back into the shot. I placed the reflector on a stand and I was literally holding the camera up in front of it so that the viewfinder was pressed against it and taking pictures using the blessings of autofocus alone because I couldn’t look through the lens.
I then had an epiphany. I cut a very rudimentary hole in the middle of my reflector so I could see what was actually going on, standing behind the reflector and having only my lens poke through.
I did change the lights a bit and replaced the two hair lights with a big softbox behind the model and having the reflector double duty as both the key-light and the fill-light. In actuality this super simple setup produces such a flattering light that its got to be one of the cheapest ring flashes you’ll ever find. (diagrams courtesy of set.a.light)
The Lensbaby brand has been around for a while now and it’s a name that is synonymous with helping photographers see in a new way but perhaps most importantly in my opinion they also help to inject a bit of the creativity and art back into this slightly more clinical digital age of photography.
Up until now Lensbaby has always been about making lens for photographers that would add a creative edge to the image taking process. They make a variety of lenses, some of which distort the field of focus on a horizontal plane like their Edge 80 lens or their Composer Pro lens that distorts the image on radial focal point all fully adjustable by the user. I have used one of their lenses at some point during nearly all of my shoots for a long time now and although the effects produced are incredibly dramatic I have never thought to use a Lensbaby on an entire shoot from start to finish, that is until now.
Here is a simple recipe you can use to add colour and subtle narrative to your images. It will delight your clients and help your images stand out from the crowd.
A lot of the time we see coloured gels used in photography to create very bold statements, this is often achieved with hard lighting to create a lot of saturation in the colour but there are times when a more subtle colour wash is all you need.
Sometimes you will want to introduce that subtler coloured gel by diffusing or softening the gels before they hit the model, one way to soften these coloured gels is to obtain large softboxes and completely cover them with huge sheets of coloured gels. This method is often impractical and costly to buy massive softboxes and rolls of gels but there is a way to create those soft pastel tones with the equipment you already have.
It’s been the modus operandi for every fashion photographer since light started hitting the silver halides, every single one of us who has been successful in terms of making money from our art has had to be published in magazines in one way or another.
Back when the world was a larger place and in a time where print was king and digital was still just a glimmer in Mr. Casio’s eye, magazines were the only place to be if you wanted your fashion photography to get seen. In fact I’m talking so long ago that magazines actually used to pay you the photographer to be in them (true story) because strangely enough your art was helping to sell their magazine and make them money.
Sadly those pay-days are long gone but it’s not all bad. As a result of an over-saturated photography market so too are there now more magazines than stars in the sky meaning that there is actually far more chance to get your work published and most importantly seen by others than ever before.[Read More…]
Here’s a great video from Jake Hicks that demonstrates how you can use a three light setup to make a creative portrait, much like the photo in the title card of the video, above. In the 11-minute clip, Hicks walks us through the process of how he shot the photo, taking the time to explain the finer details of his lighting setup and how he uses specific lighting techniques to fine tune specific aspects of the photo. [Read More…]