December 24, 2012
bounce flash portrait & Photoshop retouching technique
When we were done with the studio shoot with Ulorin Vex, we still had a few minutes left, so I thought I could do a bounce flash portrait as well. Just for a comparison of sorts to show that on-camera bounce flash can give interesting results too. Here is the low-key portraits we did with the Profoto set-up.
The only semi-interesting background I could find in the studio (that wasn’t a white wall), was this grungy green door to one of the store-rooms. I thought it might work as a gritty urban setting. I shot about eight frames in the tight corner, but didn’t like what I saw on the back of my camera, so called it a day. We were done.
Looking through the images again today, cleaning up my hard drives, I hovered over the first image I took and thought it might hold some promise still if I worked it a little bit in Photoshop. Here is where I started …
December 3, 2012
New York photo session with Sarah & Mark – off-camera flash
Sarah and Mark were in New York, dressed to the nines, to attend the Rockettes show. And while they were dressed up, and with some time before the show they were attending, we did a photo session. You might remember them as the couple in my book, off-camera flash. I’ve also photographed Sarah on other occasions. I thought that the New York skyline at dusk would work as a perfect backdrop to how stylish they were dressed. (I did ask Mark if he felt like James Bond, all suited up like that in his tux.)
The lighting setup was straight-forward. The main light was a speedlight in the Lastolite Hot Shoe EZYBOX Softbox Kit (24″x24″) (B&H). The rim-light was another speedlight behind them, with the plastic diffuser cup on. Here is the pull-back shot …
November 7, 2012
a band-aid for memory leak problems with Adobe Bridge (Mac)
While I do have Lightroom and Aperture, I have a preference still for using Adobe Bridge to view (and edit) individual images or groups of images. What makes Bridge easy, is that the edits (via the .xmp files), are read by both Lightroom and Bridge.
There has been one problem that has been driving me crazy on my Mac when I use Bridge … the apparent memory leak with Bridge that eventually eats up all the Free Memory on my system. I used a program called iFreeMem to regularly free up memory on both my Macs, but the program worked less well with Mountain Lion. And when I upgraded my iMac to 16Gb of RAM, iFreeMem just didn’t work properly at all.
Then some sleuthing via Google showed me a very simple way of doing this. This is something so simple that any competent software engineer will smirk (and the Linux gurus will fall over laughing) … but I wanted to put this out there as info for photographers who use Mac and Adobe Bridge, and who have been as frustrated with this problem that Adobe refuses to fix. (Or could it be a Mac problem?)
July 31, 2012
high-key studio portraits – with Ulorin Vex
One of the models that replied to my casting call for a model at my workshops in San Francsico in 2011, happened to be Ulorin Vex. I immediately recognized her, since I’ve seen photos of her in various portfolios. I was both surprised and very happy, since I regarded her as a bit of a superstar. I scheduled a photo session with her for the day after the two workshops in SF, and the images from those sessions appeared a few times on Tangents, and I’d consider them among the best work I had ever done. It helps to have an inspiring model!
Ulorin Vex was such a pleasure to photograph, and so professional, that when she let know me she was briefly visiting the New York area, I jumped at the chance of photographing her again. As I mentioned in my first impressions of the Nikon D800, I now have ready access to a large studio. I have acquired various lighting gear over time, but recently purchased the Profoto D1 Air 500 W/s Monolight Studio Kit (B&H).
So I was all set for the photo session – a wonderful model; superb gear; and a large studio where we could shoot. I shot about 8 different setups, which I intend posting here over the next few days. (So be prepared for a few more blog posts from this session.)
For the first set-up, I decided to keep it very simple with a white backdrop, and high-key lighting …
June 20, 2012
Photoshop plug-in for a film look – Nik Color Efex Pro 4
For a part of the individual workshop we did yesterday, Anelisa wore this cute outfit with a bit of a retro look to it. I loved her spontaneous pose here as well. In editing the image, I thought that an “old school” film look to it might suit the final photograph very well.
In previous examples shown here with a vintage look to the photograph, I had used the Totally Rad action sets. This time I wanted a specific film look to it, so I went with Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (B&H). This Photoshop plug-in has a 55 different filters. And of course, I like things which are easy to use.
April 9, 2012
Photoshop tip – easy effect for more punch
Here is a well-known Photoshop technique – one that I like and use on occasion. It desaturates the photograph, while also compressing the tonal range. It creates a modern look that also looks quite trendy. It is also quite easy to apply, by dragging the layers from a reference image once you’ve set it up.
Starting with the original image, I add these two layers:
November 9, 2011
As much as I believe in the “get it right in camera” ethos, it is near inescapable that most images can use some sweetening in Photoshop. My own preference is for fairly subtle retouching of photographs.
The photograph above is one I’ve shown a few times as a great example of how good on-camera bounce flash can look. I did have to adjust the WB and exposure as part of my usual RAW post-processing workflow. And for the image on the left, I also removed some skin blemishes with the Healing Tool. So it does look pretty good .. but it can be subtly enhanced. And the keyword here for me is *subtle*.
My post-processing retouching for portraits involve some Photoshop plug-ins that I use, but there are some useful (and well-known) Photoshop techniques to make an image pop a little bit more. Over several articles on Tangents, I’ve referred to it as either “Photoshop fairy dust” or in a humorous way as my “secret sauce”. The techniques vary, depending on what is needed, and on what I’d like to achieve. So the “secret sauce” varies from image to image by some degree. It really depends.
With the help of Photoshop wiz, Adrian (aka, Trev from the Tangents forum), we’ve put together two action sets that make these Photoshop techniques quite accessible … and more importantly, accessible in a subtle way. No over-the-top effect. Just that sweetening of the photograph as is necessary. The image on the right-hand shows the type of retouching that is possible with this action set.
The action set, called Neil’s Secret Sauce, is available for download for a $10 fee from that linked page. The zip file includes two actions as well as a PDF instruction sheet.
And of course, we’ll gladly help!
August 31, 2011
Adrian, a regular follower of the Tangents blog, (better known as the ever-helpful Trev in the Tangents forum), has the guest spot this week. Adrian has expanded on his explanation of the actions that he mentioned in the comments section of the recent article on Selective Sharpening in Photoshop. Even better, he has made it available as two downloadable actions as well.
Photoshop actions to help with Post Processing after RAW conversion (free download)
The following downloadable actions with the instructions on their use can save some time and grief on getting a good result after RAW conversion. Even using your RAW converter may not get a fully desirable end result and these very easy to use actions will help in that regard. They are not complicated and you don’t need any plug-ins to achieve a simple lift to your final image.
August 23, 2011
photo session – vintage pinup style (on location)
When the hot-rod show which didn’t offer as much in terms of photography as I had hoped, Jill and I moved over to the pier in Brooklyn. Having a model in a retro sailor-suit type outfit … well, it just seemed to good an opportunity to waste. I thought of perhaps using the Ice Cream Factory there as a backdrop to a straight-forward pinup photo, but ultimately decided the Hudson River waterfront would work better as a setting for the photo.
Then we just had to add some simple but dynamic lighting, and give the final image a vintage flavor with the post-processing …
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August 21, 2011
post-processing an image – that summery feeling
A hot rod show & hot girls dressed in 50′s retro outfits .. it all just has to look good! Well, not necessarily. Sometimes the way you feel something should look, just isn’t quite there in the actual setting. At a hot rod show today in Brooklyn, though there were the usual awesome cars (and girls), but the show was held under an expressway. Just not quite the right setting to easily get images with sparkle. But parked around the area were some vintage cars, so along with Jill (one of the models), I used some of these cars for a few images.
But even here the images I got just didn’t quite looked like I envisaged. I wanted a lazy, but sexy and summery feel to the photos. Less about the car itself, than the mood. So the photographs needed some sweetening in Photoshop …