Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Simple Art of Photo Retouching

Post production (retouching) plays a huge role in producing my final images, but that behind the scenes action is rarely seen, unless you happen to be sitting by me in my office while I'm at work. So, I decided to give everyone a sneak preview into my world of retouching.

Farm Supply.
Normally I would shoot this image while lying on the ground facing up towards the model, from a low perspective you can create the illusion of longer legs - but the building was being prepped for demolition so the ground was covered with glass and I didn't feel like cutting myself. So I cheated. In photoshop I changed the perspective that could have also been achieved by simply laying down, as you can see I also did extensive work in the entire image to give it a much more painterly feel - some refer to this look as HDR (High Dynamic Range) which I accomplished here through extensive dodging and burning, and several overlay layers. No filters were used except for a single offset filter applied to one layer which was then overlayed to sharpen the edges a bit more.

LEFT IS BEFORE, RIGHT IS AFTER - click thumbnail for a larger view

Spinning Sunset
In this image we were literally shooting directly into the sun, which created a very tricky exposure situation. If I exposed for the model then the sky would be almost pure white, but if I exposed for the sky (which I did here) then the sky was correct but the model was too dark. With digital cameras it's always easier to adjust an underexposed image than an overexposed image, so I opted to expose for the sky and fix the rest later by brightening her up!

TOP IS BEFORE, RIGHT IS AFTER - click thumbnail for a larger view

Portrait of Nicole

With such an exquisite face there's really not a whole lot I can do to improve upon it, so I decided to give the entire image the look of a timeless painting to match her timeless beauty. Since we didn't have a make-up artist for the shoot I cheated and enhanced her eye shadow.

LEFT IS BEFORE, RIGHT IS AFTER - click thumbnail for a larger view

Whiskey Bucket

Sometimes all an image needs is an extra bit of POP to set it apart. Some dodging and burning with some exposure correction. Again, the original was slightly underexposed so that I wouldn't lose any detail in the sky.

LEFT IS BEFORE, RIGHT IS AFTER - click thumbnail for a larger view

Trailing Scarf

This image was shot in pitch dark with a single battery powered strobe. To light the bridge and the model ideally I would have had to use multiple flashes, but on this particular night my assistant was unavailable so complex light set-ups in the freezing cold (it was November) were out of the question. So I boosted the light in photoshop and again added an HDR look to the wood, and her clothes.

LEFT IS BEFORE, RIGHT IS AFTER - click thumbnail for a larger view

Soaking Wet Sky

Speaking of cold, it was literally about 38 degrees outside, with wind and rain to boot. But the sky was absolutely unbelievable so we couldn't resist. We quickly set up a single flash, which my trusty assistant held high above his head so we didn't have to bother with a stand and we shot a couple dozen frames in about five minutes, and then got back into the warm car. Once again, with a proper amount of time we could have achieved a better lit scene, but I opted to fix it in photoshop later. I also put a bit of wind in her hair, using custom hair brushes by trisste-brushes.

LEFT IS BEFORE, RIGHT IS AFTER - click thumbnail for a larger view

Out of Control

And for the opposite of cold we have fire! For this image I combined fire from a different photo to boost the flames and increased the orange glow on her sides, obviously I also extended the wall behind her.
LEFT IS BEFORE, RIGHT IS AFTER - click thumbnail for a larger view

Gasoline Car Wash

Alas, I'm not nearly irresponsible enough to have a model spray actual gasoline onto the ground as I quickly snap off images and fire electronic flashes in her direction. The color spectrum was added with a simple gradient fill, one of the most overused tools on any computer program - but here it works! I get asked at least once a month if that was gasoline or a rainbow of some sorts.
TOP IS BEFORE, BOTTOM IS AFTER - click thumbnail for a larger view

Thanks for viewing, these are just a small sampling - if they're enjoyed I'll post more later.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ms. Tutu

Simple. Unique. Beautiful. When the three combine then I am happy!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Landis Lifestyle Salon

This was my second photoshoot conducted inside a studio... ever. It is also my first time using more than two flashes. Shot with an Octodome for the fill and two spots behind the model on either side and a large white reflector just barely out of frame below each image. Three hairstylists, a make-up artist and an eyelash stylist all teamed together to create the fantastic styling, the only direction from me was to incorporate plants and flowers into their work. It is a near impossibility coordinating schedules with around ten people for a shoot like this to happen, but this one was well worth the effort!

I have to give Mike from Element Studios a special thank you for allowing us to use of his fantastic photo studio and talents, and as always he was a blast to have around for the shoot - not to mention a great help!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Winter is Coming.

The rain soaked dirt road may look nice and cozy but looks can be deceiving, I was freezing and I had two shirts and long pants on, poor Nicole almost killed over. Luckily Chris, my trusty assistant, worked very fast in getting the light set up and to save even more time we skipped the light stand and he simply held the flash up. But don't feel too sorry for him, the shoot was a quick one, even though Nicole should be used to the freezing Utah air I didn't want to take my chances. Nothing worse than having to stop by the emergency room in the middle of a shoot... or so I hear.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Stripes and Sirens

When Morgen laid all her clothes out I knew it was going to be a great shoot! I love bold colors and I love stripes and I love leggings and she had all three! A bright bold location was just yearning to be paired with the bright pink so we packed up and headed out for a night shoot. Across the street from a used car lot, this tiny yellow building quickly became a point of interest for multiple car salesmen as they casually inched their way closer and closer to to watch the shoot unfold. But then a random pedestrian stumbles across the busy four lanes of traffic on Main Street and the police and an ambulance are quick on the scene, really quick on the scene actually. We can't really be sure what happened to the pedestrian, but I'm pretty certain he wasn't hit or anything major, but with an ever growing group of emergency vehicles on one side, and a beautiful girl on the other the salesmen were in quandary - their solution? To wander back and forth across both corners of the car lot trying to ascertain which was more interesting. It was highly amusing but we nailed the shot, picked up and left leaving them yearning for more. Sorry boys but we had an abandoned barn to visit!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Middle of Nowhere

Shooting at night is a lot of fun, a little bit cold but a lot of fun. My favorite night time locations are the one's in the middle of nowhere, that really look spooky. The trouble is in the middle of nowhere in pitch dark these place truly ARE creepy. Your eyes play tricks on you, every little sound makes you turn and look... at the end of the shoot we pack up as quickly as we can and hope we make it back to the car intact. I used a battery powered strobe with either a snoot, a bare bulb, or a 1-stop diffuser for all these images. In one of them I added the simple addition of the on camera flash with an attached diffuser for just a bit of fill.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Night Time Playground Hunt

Here is the problem, the switch to Daylight Savings really screwed me up. All the appointments I had set for on-location shoots were now an hour too late and suddenly in the dark. Well, luckily that doesn't stop me! When Jessica showed me the fantastic purple dress I knew that finding a swing to shoot her on was definitely a good idea, what I didn't know was swings at playgrounds aren't necessarily a requirement anymore. When did this happen? Is McDonald's really making the children so fat that youngsters can no longer enjoy swinging with any sort of faith in the structural engineering? What a travesty! After visiting three separate parks, all at night, we finally found one with actual swings. We set up the light and got the shot.

Then the tricky part, she wanted something spooky so I decided on a location I've wanted to use for a long time... the bus/wall in an abandoned shed in the middle of nowhere. Yes, this place exists. I don't know why but it does, and I LOVE it. It was cold, it was dark, and we only had one flashlight to navigate our way through the mud and brush but I think this shoot was well worth the effort. After that we finished up at a separate park with fallen leaves and then a trip to Dairy Queen. All in a days work!


Flowers are beautiful. Women are beautiful. And can you think of two more over-photographed subjects in the world than beautiful women and flowers? Neither can I, so I thought I'd combine them. I really wanted to stay away from the trite and the obvious, and go for something that was unique and creative. Though I did get the third degree at the flower store - "These flowers don't really match" and "Are you sure you don't want us to add some baby's breath for a bouquet?" and "Sir, will you please put all that money back in the cash register?" :-)