Ramblings of a Photography Addict

 

I love photography and anything to do with photography. I am continuously reading about photography, searching the web about photography, and studying photography.

Is it fascination, obsession, or a mental illness?

Join me as I ramble on and on about things that interest me in the field of photography.

MILOU Handbags Photo Shoot

December 23, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

 

MILOU Handbags Photo Shoot with model, Ashley Nygaard.

© Ethereal Imaging Photography - Brad Bradley (Photographer) - All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How to Shoot a Fashion Editorial with a Ring Flash

September 15, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Content re-blogged from Model Mayhem.

How to Shoot a Fashion Editorial with a Ring Flash

 

Although a very simple lighting set up, ring flash can be fantastic or a complete disaster, if you’re not careful. I will describe the steps I went through to achieve the fashion image bellow.


Photographer: Bruce Smith

A little background

First, what is a ring flash? The ring flash was developed in 1952 by Lester A. Dine, as a dental/medical photographer’s accessory.

As its name suggests it is basically a flash manufactured to fit around the front of a lens, allowing for flash lighting of macro photography. These days they come in 3 main sizes. The first is quite small, as per the traditional ring flash for shooting dental/surgical procedures. It’s designed to allow the photographer to work within an operating theatre environment, without using a cumbersome traditional on camera flash or off camera flash kit, which takes up space and can get in the way of operating theatre procedures. This gives the photographer the ability to shoot operation procedures close up.

The ring flash used was specifically designed to use for portrait/fashion photography.

These used to come in the other 2 main sizes, a 9-inch ring flash from companies like Broncolor or Profoto, or 12-inch ring flash from Bowens or Elinchrom. Due to the popularity of the 9-inch version, being more portable and designed so you can shoot hand held with the ring flash attached to your camera’s tripod screw, plus the range of modifiers and accessories being available, the larger ring flash seems to have stopped being manufactured.

 

The image

This image was shot with the Nikon D100, with an 18 to 35mm Lf2.8 lens, fl was at 27mm, exposure was f11 at 125 sec, at 200asa (iso). The ring flash was set to give a reading of f11, with a flash to subject distance at approximately 10 feet.

The storyline for the editorial was glitzy celebrities out to play, so I chose to give the images a paparazzi press shot look by shooting the whole fashion story with a ring flash. It gives a hard, bright, shadowless illumination on your subject and, if your shoot close to a background, a shadow all around your subject. See the image to the right. You can use a diffuser, a honeycomb grid, or leave the flash with no modifier to give a really hard light. I chose to tape some 1.5 stop scrim diffuser over the flash to soften it just a little and keep the press feel to the lighting. See other images from the editorial below.

 

The ring flash I used has no censor, so once you have taken the flash reading you must keep your flash/camera to subject distance the same for every shot, or adjust your settings/power output accordingly. If you move closer, you will over expose, further away and you under expose. Also it’s always best to keep the ring flash parallel to your subject, at mid height to your model. Too low and working close, as I often am, gives fast fall off, so your model will not be evenly lit from head to toe. I usually stay at mid height level to my model. You will notice that the lighting, if you get it right, appears to be soft and can hide a multitude of sins, i.e. wrinkles etc. I still brief my makeup artist that I will be using harsh light, and to make sure makeup is very matted, unless I’m after a shimmery look.

Like any lighting set up your not familiar with, it’s always best to experiment before you shoot to make sure your results are as you wish them to be.

A little about my workflow

I always shoot a raw file and a small jpg, and drop them into separate folders when transferring image files from my flash cards to my computer. I also copy the image files onto an external hard drive as backup. The small jpgs I burn onto CD or DVD, to give to my clients, so they have a complete set of small jpgs from the shoot to do their selecting with. I know it’s antiquated but I like to do a manual workflow and to be in control of my image files.

My editing process is done with the small jpgs mainly for speed. When I have narrowed my choices down to 3 or 4 options, I transfer the final choice images into the folder containing my raw files. This highlights the raw files to be batch processed in camera raw into usable images files.

I’ll talk more about my work flow in another article.

 

Post-production/Photoshop retouching

I chose a different but similar frame to the one above to work on.

When the image has been processed in camera raw, I assess what is needed to be done, apart from the initial exposure and contrast. With an image such as the image left, which is the un-retouched, processed raw file, as you can see, the image lacks contrast and is not quite as saturated as I would like.

Below are the various steps I did in Photoshop to make the image as I envisaged when I shot it.

Assessing the image

In order to put some punch into the shot, I darkened the wall behind my model, then added some contrast to the dress, brightened up her skin, darkened/enriched her hair, and slimed down her waist just a little to emphasize her body in liquefy. (The dress was stretchy and sort of hid her waistline.) I created a mask to protect the areas of the image I didn’t want to alter.

Apart from the above, there’s not a lot I would do to this image.

Step 1: Save as a tiff

I like to keep a master of the processed un-retouched images files and work on a copy of the image tiff.

When saving As, make sure you check the IBM box in the byte order box, or people using PCs will not be able to open or use the tiff image.

 

Because there is so little Photoshop to be done on this image, and since the retouching I will be doing is not destructive, I’m going to work without using layers.

Step 2: Increasing the overall contrast

 

I used Image, adjust, curves, dropping the lower section of the curve down to increase density, and lifting the top section of the curve to lighten the brighter areas of the image. This gives the image more contrast and punch, and increased saturation.

Step 3: Darkening the blacks to add more punch

I used Image, adjust, selective color, selected the color black from the drop down menu, and slid the black slider to the right until the blacks were darkened just enough to create a little more punch.

 

Be careful not to add too much when using selective color adjustments to your images, or it will start to block out the chosen color.

 

I also added a little more contrast and lightened up her face in curves. See image above.

Step 4: Adding vibrance

 

To lift the vibrance of the image I used Image, adjust, vibrance, and moved the vibrance slider to the right. This increased saturation a little too much, so I cut back some of the saturation to compensate.

Step 5: Creating a mask

I created a mask to protect the areas I didn’t want altered. To do this I selected the easiest areas to make a magic wand selection of– the model and her dress.

 

With the magic wand select tool set at a tolerance of 32, I clicked on the model’s dress, automatically selecting a large amount of what I wanted by holding down the caps key and clicking again and again to select each area I wanted to select, i.e. the varying tones on her dress, her hands, her face, her arms etc.

When all was selected, I inversed the selection so the background/wall behind the model became the area selected. It’s now almost ready to be adjusted in curves. BUT like the magnetic select tool, the magic wand can be unpredictable and needs some adjustment to make sure you made a good selection of the areas not to be adjusted in step 7.

Accurate selection: Turn on the red mask by clicking the box with a circle inside. (It’s at the bottom of your tool bar.) This highlights the areas selected and not selected. Like in the previous fashion lighting and Photoshop tutorial, you can add to either the selected or not selected areas by painting in or erasing the mask, using either a hard edge or feathered edge on the tool and using different sizes for more intricate areas. See image bellow:

 

Feather selected edges: Now that I created an accurate selection separating my model’s body from the background, I clicked off the red mask. Now I need to feather the edge of the selection by just 2 pixels, which will help to not show an obvious edited edge between my model and the background.

 

Step 6: Darkening the background

To darken the background I used, Image, adjust, curves, pulling down the lower section of the curve to darken the background and lifting the top section just a little to increase the contrast.

 

Keeping the selection on, I inversed it to be ready to open the image in liquefy. When opened in liquefy, it will look like the image bellow. I did the liquefy on the waistline before cleaning up the selected areas, hence the mask still showing in areas of the image that will not be adjusted in liquefy.

Step 7: Liquefy waist

In filters, I clicked liquefy. The image opened in a liquefy window. The masked off background areas were red, as in the image above. The areas to be liquefied/slimmed will not be masked off.

I selected the Forward Warp Brush. (It’s the top tool in the tool bar on the left of the liquefy window.) In the brush size box on the panel on the right of the liquefy window I adjusted the size of the brush to be big enough to cover more than the area of the waist to be slimmed. I placed the center of the warp brush on the edge of her waist, and clicked and dragged the waistline in just enough so it still looks natural. As you can see, I slimmed the waist slightly on either side. The area of background now showing outside the masked area will be retouched in the next step.

See the difference in before and after images.

Before

You need to be careful to keep the waistline looking natural.If you look closely you’ll see that the wall behind and adjacent to her slimmed waist is slightly stretched. I’ll show you how to correct this later.

After

Step 8: Retouch damaged background

 

I created a new selection of the model’s dress, much the same as in step 5, so I could mask off the dress from the background. I then reversed the selection so I could use the cloning brush to pick up undamaged areas of the wall behind and clone them back in right up to the edge of the dress. Notice how I lined up the lines of the wall before clicking, so you can’t tell I used liquefy. This would have been noticeable if I had not cloned back in the damage edges.

The finished image


Photographer: Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith is a world-class fashion and beauty photographer whose work has appeared around the globe for more than thirty years. He's the author of "Fashion Photography: A Complete Guide to the Tools and Techniques of the Trade" and teaches workshops internationally. His website is www.brucesmithphotographer.com.

 


I Never Know...

August 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
I absolutely love this quote from photographer Fuzzy Duenkel. It totally sums up how I approach every photography session. I go into each photography session with a basic idea of what I want to accomplish but allow each location and situation to present me with its own unique perspective and then I take advantage of that particular opportunity.

Quote:

"I go into each photo session with absolutely no idea what will come out the other end. I'm as surprised as my clients are when magic happens. Part of it stems from going on-location and being open to the possibilities. Part of it relies on my clients to help me with clothing. The rest rests on my shoulders to deliver something based on my acquired knowledge and instinctual abilities."

All Photographers Are Not Professional Photographers

July 03, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

What makes a professional photographer?

A professional photographer is a skilled photographer that has dedicated their professional working life to partnering with you to create beautiful images of you, your children, your family.

 

Professional photographers not only know their equipment and know it well, they are also legitimate business owners who:

  • pay taxes

  • pay for their equipment and software with money they earn by providing this service

  • support their families with money they earn providing professional photography services

Professional photographers do not need to “portfolio build”, they already have a portfolio.  Professional photographers do not work for free: they understand that they provide a valuable service.  Professional photographers are much like professionals of other occupations, they have overhead and create photography not out of just love but out of a dedication to providing families with lifelong memories.

Some photographers participate in industry wide certification programs (i.e. Certified Professional Photographer), competition (competing nationally and internationally against other photographers), teaching/mentoring other photographers, writing about photography and reviewing equipment for trade publications, will mentor local photographers to achieve high quality photography as the norm within their area, work within the trade organizations to help maintain and/or create a sustainable profession where all learn and grow, etc.  A true professional photographer will have a large display of work available to look through on their website, will have a client list and should be willing to provide references, should be able to provide you with consistent and beautiful images and will partner with you to create images that you will be happy with for years to come.  A true professional photographer is not only a skilled artisan but also a business person like any other professional you may know.

I have a really good camera. Doesn't just having a camera create a photographer?

No. Having a camera, fancy dSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) or otherwise, does not a professional photographer make. It makes that photographer a camera owner.  Professional photographers not only know how to press a button they know their equipment backwards, forwards and upside down, they spend a lot of time educating themselves about the craft of photography, they spend a lot of time behind the scenes running their business(es), and much much more.

Many of the best professional photographers take time to continue their education via other photographer run workshops, lectures and attending photography conventions as well as entering image competitions and such.

There is a HUGE difference between a pro and a hobbyist photographer.  Hobbyist photographers enjoy shooting and may have a great handle on their equipment however photography as a hobby is VERY expensive and the expenses add up quickly, hobbyists quickly learn there is a big difference between maintaining a professional photography business vs. shooting from time to time.

How do you know if the photographer you’re looking to hire is not a true professional?

Great question!!

By definition a professional is someone who is paid money to provide a service.   However the topic of professional photography is muddied by the fact that dSLR cameras have become common place and there is an all too irresistible urge to call ones’ self a professional photographer.

Muddying the waters even further:  there is no board certification for photographers (like there is for other professional service providers such as hairdressers, aestheticians, etc).  There is no one standard that dictates who is or who isn’t a professional photographer.

In essence: it is all too easy to buy a camera, hang a shingle, open up a Facebook business page and start charging for photography services.  In fact it is so common that it’s become an issue amongst true professional photographers, many of whom are going out of business because of an onslaught of hobbyist photographers who think that turning into a wanna-be professional photographer is easy.  They do so without understanding what being a professional photographer entails.

Many of those that hang their shingle do so without acquiring a whole lot of knowledge, knowledge that is both business &/or  photographic.  These new “pros” are often called “fauxtographers” or MWACs (mom with a camera), DWAC (dad with a camera), Debbie Digitals (a not so complimentary term), etc.

Truly my purpose isn’t to bash/name call a particular group of non professionals because I do respect all business owners and we all start somewhere however there does need to be a distinction of uneducated photographers who have taken down the business of photography a notch or two. I will simply refer to those non professionals as hobbyist-wannabe-pros.

 

A hobbyist-wannabe-pro may have the following distinctive qualities within their work/within their business models:

 

  • lack of consistent work (poor exposure, poor handle on contrast, lack of retouch work on photos, etc).  In essence there is a lack of technical knowledge/proficiency with the equipment being used.

  • portfolio filled with many images of the same subject(s)

  • all inclusive pricing for low cost (i.e.: $200 for a CD of all images)

  • poor customer skills, lack of know how in dealing with clients of any age (especially with children).  You can see this in a portfolio when you view the images and note that there is poor eye contact, lack of enthusiastic or engaging expressions

  • a noticeable lack of posing and/or awkward pose captures: sometimes the photographer will state that they prefer “unposed captures” which can be code for “I don’t know how to pose people”.  This isn’t always the case, many photojournalistic style professional photographers also use this terminology but there is a distinctive difference when you view the portfolio of a pro who specializes in this style of photography vs. someone who lacks the proper knowledge

  • may state on their site that other “professional photographers” charge too much, that they aren’t going to “gouge” you in their pricing.  That’s usually a sure sign of a photographer who doesn’t understand business, why they are pricing in the manner that they are pricing and is quick to insult a true pro to make their work look more appealing (nevermind that they likely will not be in business in a year or two)

  • does not have access to professional level product offerings for their clients: may use Shutterfly for albums, WalMart for canvas wraps, etc.  These are not considered professional quality end products, some of these have a reputation for poor lab chemical calibration resulting in images that can fade and often do not represent colors accurately to begin with

  • general overall lack of professionalism: excuse making, whining about personal matter on their business page (Facebook) or blog, etc..  It’s one thing to have a family emergency or trying personal times, we all have those moments, but there truly are examples of photographers out there that are distinctly unprofessional.  Let’s face it you’re paying for a service well done, so while you may have to cut a business owner some slack because they have a death in the family, as you should, multiple excuses and exclamations of “I wasn’t in the mood to edit your session today” won’t hold a lot of water and are hallmarks of unprofessionalism.

  • a lot of stylized sessions featured on their site: we all love a nicely stylized session but as a photographer I assure you it is rare and few and far between where a client wants me to drag out the picket fence, lemonade stand and dress the kids up in the latest shabby chic wear to pout and pretend they’re pouring lemonade at sunset in a ravine covered in bluebell flowers.  If you see more than several of these sessions on a photographer’s site you need to ask questions about those specific blog or Facebook entries (i.e. were these images done for a client or for personal work, did a client request those sessions, did you trial a new set out that you’ll be offering clients, etc).  Stylized sessions CAN BE beautiful and well planned out but the truth is most hard working professionals work with clients to create images of their families as the best representation of who they really are and rarely, if ever, create these highly stylized sessions.  I love a good stylized session for my personal work with my kids and I’ll occasionally share those images publicly but the best policy is to be upfront about it.  A lot of newer photographers like the look of these, because stylized sessions can hide a multitude of photographic flaws (you’re too distracted by the prettiness of the set up to notice the poor focus and the even poorer exposure and color rendition).  The rule is DON’T AVOID the photographer who showcases these sessions but ask questions about these sessions. 

Content re-blogged from http://www.professionalchildphotographer.com/information/


The New Season of Roller Derby Officially Begins!

March 14, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

This Saturday at Hot Wheels Scouth, located at 1901 Alfred Lane in Bossier City, our own Twin City Knockers will open up their killer 2013 season against the Red Stick Roller Derby Capital Defenders and I'm looking forward to some great photo opportunities!

Get your tickets for $10.00 or get two games free by purchasing a season pass.  That's seven 2013 bouts for just $50.00.

If you're not familiar with roller derby, continue reading below to learn more about this exciting sport.

 

 

The Rules of Roller Derby

Original Blog by  Catherine Galioto

 

Roller derby is making a comeback, but how is it played? Understanding roller derby isn't as hard as it looks. Here are the basic rules of a bout.

 
They skate round a rink and bash into each other. Some have helmets with stripes, others have stars. The scoreboard registers more points, but what exactly is going on in a roller derby bout?
 
 

Roller Derby Scoring

Roller derby is certainly not like football or baseball in that there is no ball put into play. Instead it more closely resembles a race, in that one skater -- called a jammer -- must get through a pack of skaters and pass all her opponents. If the jammer cannot get past her opponents, no points are scored by her team. There are three positions -- jammer, blocker and pivot -- who attempt to knock their opponents down in order for their teammate to get through. Roller derby skaters find themselves simultaneously playing offense and defense as they skate around the track.

 

Roller Derby Pack 

Two teams of five players each are on the starting line. The jammers for each team are in the back, and start after the rest of her team skates off. The whole goal is for the jammer to lap everyone on this oval track and begin scoring points. For every opponent a jammer passes, she scores a point. All the while, the other four players, called blockers, are trying to knock their opponents down to make it harder for the opposing jammer and easier for their own jammer to score.

 

The Pivot

At the starting line, the blocker with the striped helmet is the pivot. This position guides the speed of her blockers, paying attention to where her and the other team's jammer is. The pivot might signal for her team to skate faster, so it is harder for the other team's jammer to catch up to the pack and thus score before the clock runs out. The pivot might signal for her team to slow down if she sees her own jammer is trying to catch up to the pack.

To do this, the pivot needs to stay at the front of the pack. She is often the last person the jammer must pass, making her the last line of defense for her team.

 

The Jammer

Jammers wear the star helmet. As the whistle blows to start play, the jammers wait until the rest of the pack gets 20 feet ahead. Then the jammers race off, trying to be the first to get through. The jammer who does get through the pack first is the lead jammer. Only the lead jammer can call off the jam before the clocks ends. The advantage to being the lead jammer is obvious: you can call off play if you are tired, and calling off the jam prevents the other team from scoring. Of course, the lead jammer can strategically let the clock tick, skating around and racking up more points before the three minutes alloted for each jam elapses.

If the jammer manages to lap everyone, including the other team's jammer, she has scored a grand slam and earned an extra point.

 

The Blockers

The players who are doing their best not to have the opposing jammer pass them are the blockers. At the starting line, the blockers are behind the pivot (the pivot also serves as a blocker). These players number three for each team, and do not have any special markings like stars or stripes on their helmets. They bash into the other team's blockers, so their jammer can get through. And playing defense, they block the opposing jammer, preventing her from passing them and scoring.

Blockers' defensive moves can be direct physical contact of shoulders and hips, or creating a presense that is hard to get around, such as skating left and right so the jammer cannot get around. Blockers working together will often "build a wall," lining up so there is nowhere to go.

Offensively, the blockers serve to help their jammer through the pack. They can push their own jammer forward, or be pushed by their jammer from behind, like a shopping cart that needs pushing. They can help their jammer build speed by whipping her around the track. And, true to the adage "the best offense is a good defense" a blocker can offensively hit her opponents out of the way to make a space for her jammer to get through.

 

Watching a Bout

Learning these basic rules of roller derby can provide a great excitement for watching a jam unfold. Besides keeping on eye on where the jammer is and who she has passed, look out for the blockers, who may be showing their specialized skills with such moves as booty blocks and hipchecks. Besides this athleticism, roller derby is made fun by the unique uniforms and team and skater names. It may be like nothing else, but now you have the knowledge to enjoy it a little more.

******************************************************************************************************************

Updates and Corrections to the Information Above

Jams are now two-minutes long instead of three.

Jammers no longer have to wait until the second whistle.  All team members now begin at the same time.

WFTDA Official Rules

Summary of Rules Changes for 2013