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I need help with off-camera lighting

edited January 2013 in news & discussions
Hi Neil & Guys/Gals I've recently been shooting a lot and the better i get the less satisfied I am with my work. I still feel as i am doing something wrong. I think it might be my post skills, but can I have you guys critique and be completely honest. I don't mind criticism even harsh one, I just want to know if I'm on the right track or just completely failing. This picture is from a project I started just shooting random people on the Street. I used a large Octobox and Yongnuo 565ex flash to the cameras left.


  • Colors and light look good to me. Might want to tone down the shine on your subject's face a bit. A good way to do this is to use the clone stamp at a low opacity and paint on the skin texture from a nearby spot without glare on it.
  • As Mgarber said... and maybe set the tool blend mode to "darken" and sample frequently.
  • looks nice! not so into the tilt though, and the horizon cutting off his neck would be considered a nono to some
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2013

    Exposure is good.

    Agree with Mgarber re shine on skin [see my method below]

    Agree with Naftoli, tilt and horizon is a bit off-putting.

    Have him straighter, then also crouch down more to get 2/3rds of him/torso into the sky, much better result.

    Now, here is a simple way for skin shine removal.

    1] Create an Adjustment Layer using Selective Color

    2] Immediately, the white mask should already be active, go Ctrl+i [PC] or Cmd+i [Mac] "i" as in the letter 'eye'. This will inverse the mask, making it black.

    3] If you don't see the Selective Color Palette, double click on the Icon in the Layers Palette, to open it, click on the 'Colors' drop-down menu and choose 'Whites'

    4] Now on the Black slider, change to +50%


    5] Click back onto the Black Mask to activate it again

    6] Use a soft white brush, opacity to 30-50% brush over the affected areas, keep brushing gently.

    7] You won't remove all of the shine first up, but the idea of brushing gently is to blend into the surrounding areas of skin so shine not as bad.

    8] Now you can merely duplicate that Selective Color layer again to reduce further; you can even duplicate a 3rd time, too much, just reduce the layer's opacity then.

    If you are concerned about the bright hot spot on nose that will not come back since it's full blown white, then you can carefully clone using 20-30% at a time, build it up gradually.

    Here is one I did, attached [did not do nose hot spot] and I duplicated the Selective Color layer.

    By doing it this way you can create an action, then merely just start brushing.


    PS: What you can do also, obviously, is to change that Black opacity if 50% is too strong or increase it.

    Also, to see the general overall effect before brushing, simply invert the mask back to white and you will see the change it will make.
  • Wow, thanks for all of your input. You guys have been very helpful, here is a question when taking pictures of a model is it always good to crouch to their body level? Also where should the horizon break????
  • Shineoff is a good one click plugin if you have to retouch photos often or in large quantity. Saves a lot of time. Here is your photo after running the plugin. I hit his nose with the clone once at 20%
    link to the plugin:
  • that looks good. Thanks :P, you guys have been great thanks so much... one can only get better..
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    There are two changes I would make in how I'd shoot the image there.

    The main one ... you were undecided about your background - the impressive sky .. or the dark terrain behind your subject.
    You need to decide on your background, and make some effort to use it specifically. In this case, dropping to a lower viewpoint would've helped.
    A longer lens, and shooting from low down, would've done the trick to have him against the colorful sky.

    The second thing which would be a good idea .. but not that necessary at this point if you have the brighter sky behind him, is to add a second flash behind him for rim lighting.

    Other than that, this is a very solid example. Your light was positioned perfectly. Your subject is posed nicely into the light if you look at the way the light falls across his face.
  • Thanks Neil, Your books have been very helpful, so has this forum.. I have used several speed lights before indoors(studio) but I'm going to start to use more than one outdoors. I just moved up to Full frame and my longest lens is 70mm which was great on my crop sensor. Here is a question for anyone, Whats a good lens for Canon Full Frame cameras, i want to put my money on one, one that i can use all around.. I shoot mostly portraits and very few landscapes.
    Thanks guys.
  • imo no such thing as a "great all around lens" thats why professionals use a range of dedicated fast lenses to photograph a wedding
  • But if I were to choose only one... because that's what my budget says ;( , which would be my best option for a FF camera. I Have the 24-70 2.8L (old one).. I want to get something that will compliment this lens.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited January 2013
    My question would be, 'What's the budget?'

    In the zoom range, the Canon 24-105mm f4 @ a full stop slower but with IS; is a longer reach, great for portraits, not so great in low light in churches, receptions when you feel the need for speed [sorry Top Gun].

    However, this lens does perform flawlessly in terms of being consistent in sharpness as opposed to the 24-70 f2.8. which is sporadically unpredictable sometimes as I, Neil, and many others found.

    $1149 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/397662-USA/Canon_0344B002AA_24_105mm_f_4L_IS_USM.html/BI/2096/KBID/2822

    If you wanted to supplement the 24-70 into the really longer reach and since you already have the 24-70 f2.8 old version, and you want to keep that I presume and just compliment it one with another, you could, if not needing a fast f2.8, get the 70-200mm f4 IS @ $1349


    or the f2.8 NO Image Stabiliser @ $1299 [currently on special]

    or the simply superb, fast focus, great color, f2.8 IS MkII, [new version] depending on budget, @ $2499

    Those are in the zoom line and would certainly cover a wide field, fantastic for portraits.

    Probably the best walk-about, zoom, general everyday but great for portraits would be the 24-105mm f4.

    Obviously there are also the primes, but I am only talking about the zooms, and the good constant aperture zooms, not the ones like 18-300mm f4 to f5.6, etc.

  • Just my 2 cents. I've been using my friend's 24-105mm for about a week. I don't feel like it is very sharp at any aperture, and I miss the extra stop of light. IS doesn't make people stand still.

    Also, the distortion at 24mm is very noticeable, which is also true of the 24-70mm, but as a person with a 24-70mm already, I wouldn't buy the 24-105mm.

    If you don't want a prime lens, then get one of the 70-200mm lenses. They will change the look and feel of your photography the most, compared to the lens you have already.
  • Also, you should try a 16-35mm. The 1st generation was a fabulous lens. It doesn't make people look attractive, but it's like driving a dune buggy the first time you use one.

    Try it out.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    The awesomely awesome Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS ver II

    On a full-frame camera it becomes the ideal portrait lens. Very versatile.
    And this specific lens is very sharp.
  • Haha @Mgarber Dunebuggies are awesome.. Neil I think I'm going for that Canon 70-200.. looks great.. My budget was 3000.00, I just sold a Golfcart i rarely used and since i use my camera more than anything i think its a good investment. You Guys are Awesome.
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