This post will be a relatively brief discussion of a recent studio lighting situation. The set-up was deceptively simple…models were sitting on the floor and covered with a fine black netting which we were trying to use to create a dramatic conceptual image. Trouble was, most standard lighting arrangements gave a very flat and lifeless look to the image.

After a few tests and considering the available lights, I came up with a set that brought out the texture in the fabric and highlighted some edge detail, while allowing the shadows to create a deep and moody feel to the overall image. The lighting diagram here shows the overall layout of this image.

Lighting diagram

Lighting diagram

The main light was a 3 x 4 softbox set to fire across the front of the models, feathered so that the models were in the light coming from the side of the softbox, rather than straight on. This arrangement put the subjects in very soft lighting that faded from left to right, highlighting the texture in the fabric and creating a dramatic split-light effect on the models faces, while providing just enough light on the right to give some detail to the shadowed features. Finally, a rim light was set in the back to provide edge detail to some of their features. This light had a black panel used to block any light from spilling on the backdrop, keeping the background of the image dark.

The final image is one of my favorites from what was a fantastic studio collaboration.

Final edited image from the shoot

Final edited image from the shoot

Thoughts or questions? – leave a comment!! What would you have done to light this type of image?

One or Two Light Fashion Set

Posted: April 24, 2013 in How-to's

Hey everyone – this blog post is in response to an emergency request from a fellow photographer in the Firstlighters group. Shameless plug for them – hosted by Lightstalking, Firstlighters is a wonderful gathering of photographic intellect. If you’re not in…check ‘em out!

Anyway, there was a request for some info on fashion lighting set-ups. Specifically how to get a nearly blown-out white background with the edgy, contrasty light you often see in fashion layouts. Honestly – that lighting is deceptively simple to get close, but refining it can take a long time to perfect…I don’t really think I’m there and I’ve been studying it for a few years now. The basics of this look can be had with just two lights and a few black panels.

Fashion Lighting Diagram

The lighting diagram here shows the overhead view of the set. Note that the main light source is a strobe with a beauty dish & diffuser. I used a basic 22-inch dish, but the pros swear by the 28″ Mola dish. The main thing to note with whatever you use – the center point of the light beam is NOT aimed directly at the subject. If you look carefully at the diagram you’ll notice that the model is in the “feathered edge” of the light. This prevents you from having an extremely harsh highlight right on their forehead and nose. The light was raised above head height – probably about 8-10ft. This is the part that takes a long time to really perfect…you’d be amazed at how much difference you get by shifting the placement and angle of a light just a few inches.

The background light is really pretty straightforward. Light up the background if you want it white (technically, you should try for about 1-2 stops exposure above your subject…). I’ve found it faster personally to just use the screen on the back of my camera to judge whether the light is too bright. Make sure to zoom in a check the edge detail of your subject – if you’re too strong on the background light you’ll start to lose edge detail. Of course, if that’s the look you’re going for, by all means break this rule. You’ll also notice in the sample images below that I have a grey background and one that is black. These were all set up in nearly the same fashion, but I just used the key light for the darker backgrounds. To make it go black you just have to make sure none of the light is falling on the background…distance and angle are the keys.

I use simple black foam core panels set at different heights on either side of the subject to deepen the shadows on the sides. This is one of those little ‘secrets’ that makes small but noticeable differences in the image…and again, you have to play with the placement until you find what you like. I usually have them about 3-4 feet away from the model.

So…that’s a brief introduction to the lighting set up. If you’re really limited in what you have available to shoot with as far as lights and modifiers – you can try a few tricks to get close to this arrangement assuming you have at least a nice clean white wall. Try to get your hands on a slave-triggered flash in addition to one that will mount on your camera. Cheap is sometimes just fine…I’ve used these as slave flashes with great results. The main requirement is that it has a slave mode that will fire when it senses the light from another flash. Use a white panel above you and off to one side or another to bounce your on-camera flash toward the model and act as the key light. Your slave flash should trigger and light up the background wall. You will really have to tinker with your settings to pull this off and get the lighting balanced out, but it should get close to the right look.

Another little tidbit – I always shoot fashion shoot in the monochrome (black & white) setting on my camera using RAW files. This let me balance out the highlights and shadows a lot easier and if I’m getting the contrast that I want in black and white, I know it will convert well into a color photo once I load it into Lightroom.

Lighting-4959 Lighting-4959-2 Lighting-5039 Lighting-5176

 

 

Seeing the light…

Posted: April 14, 2013 in General photography

Watch out for crazy photographers with remote flashes

Watch out for crazy photographers with remote flashes

Full Disclosure: This was actually a little off-the-wall post I wrote up on Facebook a few years ago before this blog was active. I just came across it again and had to share. Enjoy!!

Well, I’ve spent a long day editing photos for the April edition of Fashion Wrap Up…It was certainly crunch time!!! The studio shots took a little more time than I was anticipating to get them all cleaned up, but I think everything turned out pretty darn fabulous after all. Anyway, this little post really came about because I was asked to dig back into my archives of images for one of the featured designers – the fabulous R. Lynda from the December issue. While sorting through the images I came across this pic. It’s really one of my favorites just because of the fact that it is totally NOT a fashion shot. One of our favorite male models, Casey, was helping me out as a photo assistant for the day (he also helped us scout out the location for this shoot). In between sets, I caught him goofing around with my flash and umbrella…and me being the jerk that I am…I took the shot. Obviously, this lit up the inside of poor Casey’s skull for an instant…the evil imp in me laughs. Believe me, I’ve fired these things into my own face more times than I care to admit…so I do know what it’s like.

So what’s my point? I dunno really. I just really enjoy seeing this picture because it reminds me of one very fun (and for Casey…painful) moment during one of the many fashion shoots I’ve done in the past year. I thought everyone might enjoy sharing a little.

And for those of you considering assisting a photographer with a shoot – just be sure to know where that photographer is before you go playing with any remotely-triggered flashes ;-)

Hey everyone,

Just figured I’d share a little tip that had me just about ready to throw my 7D across the set a few months ago. I’m sure many of you already know about this hidden dark side of DSLR’s…they get kind of crazy sometimes, for no apparent reason. In my case – I can think of no better way to describe this than to say that my 7D was going rogue. The jog dial on the back of the camera would randomly not work, sometimes I would be inexplicably unable to change the ISO or shutter speeds, and then suddenly I started getting a crazy error message after about 20 minutes of shooting:

7D - Going Rogue

Needless to say after about the 20th time I opened up the main battery compartment and re-installed the battery as directed only to get the exact same error on the next shot, I was a bit peeved. I was about ready to drop the camera off at the shop when I decided to do a little research…and I found out about the “clock battery”.

It turns out that In addition to the main rechargeable battery that provides most of the power for your Camera, a second battery is hidden in the same compartment to provide enough power to retain your current settings and preferences, as well as the local date and time. It’s a coin-sized button type battery, in the case of a 7D a c1616 sized lithium 3 volt cell, that is nestled in a little slide-out carrier just inside the main battery door.  You most likely would never notice this little thing…I sure didn’t!!! It may very well last several years without needing replacement but if you start getting random battery error messages or have to reset the camera date frequently, you might look up where your camera’s clock battery resides and swap it out for a fresh cell. After changing this battery I’ve used the camera for a number of shoots with no more issues.

 Clock Battery

In this post I’ve been describing the Canon 7D, but it applies to most, if not all DSLR cameras – you’ll just have to do a bit of examining to find it.

Happy Shooting!

Hey everyone!

I’ve been asked a lot about cheap lighting for practicing off camera lighting set-ups (studio strobes, speedlights, etc..). Well this is a little trick I learned back in college, when uber-cheapness was the only concern. $125 for a flash??? No. Way. Ever. 

If you’re just starting out trying to understand the effects and positioning of off-camera lighting it really is helpful to be able to see what you’re doing to the light as you move things around. A constant light source is actually a much more effective training tool than a flash just because of the fact that you can actually see the results you’re getting before you even take the picture. Now – I must insert a disclaimer here – if you ever actually use this kind of set for a paid photo shoot be prepared to be fired, or at the least seriously laughed at. This does not portray confidence or professionalism in any way. But it does get you comfortable setting up lights without a huge investment.

You might wonder, if you’ve never used a softbox, what the point of this funky contraption really is? Simply put, its primary purpose is to “soften the light”, hence the name. It also provides some directional control of the light as well, but in order to make lighting softer, with smooth blended shadows, you need a large light source in close proximity to your subject. This is why the sun, even though it is enormous, creates harsh sharp-edged shadows – it’s so far away that it acts relatively like a small point light source. When it goes behind a cloud, the cloud is diffusing the light, scattering it and softening out those shadows. A softbox does the same thing to a flash. So if you’ve been thinking about trying out setting up a light but don’t want to spend the money on commercial gear just yet, this will get you going.

Here’s what you will need:

1. Get an old cheap styrofoam cooler – the plain white kind that always seems to break and spill all your drinks at your feet while you’re walking to the car. I’ve found these for less than a buck at garage sales.

2. Most home centers or big-box stores carry simple clamp-on light fixtures that have a 7 or 10-inch reflector and usually are around $7-12. Pick up at least one, or more if you want to play with multiple light sets.

3. Get a few of the highest wattage flourescent lights you can find. Stick with the spiral fluorescents to avoid the heat generated by standard incandescent. Take note – most come in a wide array of white balance hues (Usually called soft white, cool white, daylight, etc.) Just be aware of this and know that you will have to adjust your white balance accordingly. I’ll tell you a simple trick for that later…

4. Finally you will need a funky old white t-shirt or other piece of cloth to use as a diffuser. Make sure you can see light through it fairly well if you hold it up to a light. You’ll also need some duct tape or gaffer’s tape.

Ok, now to build a light! It’s really pretty simple. Just take the reflector off the lighting fixture (they usually unscrew) and cut a hole in the center of the back-side of the cooler that is a snug fit for the base of the light fixture. Then all you do is put the fixture into the cooler, screw in a lightbulb and tape your funky t-shirt over the open face of the cooler. Presto – instant cheap softbox light!!

Light fixture mounted into the cooler base    

Light arrangement is a subject that you can spend your whole life time developing and understanding but there are a few basic things that will get you great results. Since you’re reading this you probably already know that on-camera flash washes people out and just looks like every point-and-shoot facebook photo out there. Getting a nice dimensional look to the lighting means you have to get the light coming in from one side or the other from the camera. Here’s one really basic 2-light set-up that produces some pretty decent results.

 Key light is angled 45-60 degrees to left of the camera. Back light is out of the frame above and behind the subject.

The image of my cat below used that exact set up – the key light had the cooler box softbox and the other back light just kept the as-purchased reflector dish. Notice the wash of light on his back that separates him out from the black backdrop.

I mentioned a trick for setting your white balance – simply point the camera at the light (you’ve got a white shirt on there, right?) take a frame and use that to set the camera’s custom white balance and you’re all set.

You may be surprised just how good the lighting quality out of something this simple can be. I will be putting together more examples of lighting set-ups using more advanced beauty dishes and comparing them to this cheap-o light in the near future. In the meantime, coerce a family member into posing for you, get creative and have fun!

Speed Lighting

Posted: May 21, 2012 in News and Gear

2008 Yamaha Warrior. ISO 400, f13, 1/2500 sec.

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve had a new post here, but life has been keeping me moving! It’s all very good things though.

When I came home from work this afternoon, my roommate was working on his car in the garage and had moved our motorcycles out into the driveway. I really like my bike, and It was just too tempting a subject to not do a little shooting!!! So after I had managed to settle in, eat dinner and get through a few hundred emails, the sun was setting and leaving me with boring light. I decided to kill it – the ambient light that is. Using Pocket Wizards High-speed synch capabilities to trigger my 430EXII flashes, I was able to shoot with a high enough shutter speed to nearly remove the ambient light. Just kind of awesome really. (Just a note – the main overhead light was actually clipped onto the raised trunk lid of my roommate’s car. Motto –  use what you can for a light stand!)

I really love shooting with the Wizards. They really do allow a ton of flexibility in off-camera flash. But they are pricey!!!  There are a number of cheaper alternatives that will let you get started in off-camera flash without destrying your budget. I’ve used models from Cactus as well as these fantastic triggers from Cowboy Studios with great results. Now…these are cheap triggers, but they’re fairly well made. I haven’t had any trouble with them at all. The only drawback is that they are just rock simple. There’s no TTL computing going on or anything like that. It just triggers your speedlight. Bam! That’s it. You have to set your flash settings manually.

I really think that’s the best way to learn off-camera flash anyway. I know some people refuse to buy anything but the name brand stuff and consider everything else junk – I do see some validity to that because the quality control of cheap-o stuff can be a little lacking. But to learn the techniques and start understanding how off-camera flash works, you can’t really beat a two light set-up for about $100. I got two of these Neewer flashes from Amazon along with the Cowboy Studio triggers and have been completely thrilled with their performance! I even used them to get this action shot at a recent Indianapolis Junior Roller Derby event – which won a First Place vote in a Roller Derby Photo Contest for April.

Indianapolis Junior Roller Derby All Star ‘Punky Bruiser’ in lead jammer position

Happy Shooting!!!-Indyshooter

Downtown Indy from White River Park Walkway

Saturday was a bit cold and blustery in Indy…so I figured I might as well go shoot a little. The nice big puffy clouds were just too tempting for me to resist doing a little HDR (High Dynamic Range) image work, and besides…I’m in the middle of trying to wrap up some nifty photo compositing projects that I figure will make some good material for Indyshooter. If you aren’t familiar with HDR, just do a quick search for the term and you’ll come up with all kinds of sites. Trey Ratcliff is one of the more well-know HDR gurus….check him out at Stuck in Customs.

So, for the background (in more ways than one…) I’m working on team photos for the Indianapolis Junior Roller Girls. In mid-January I scheduled a team photo session where I took a number of individual and team photos. I’ve been working my way through making fun Indianapolis-themed backgrounds for the team shots. Once this is complete I’ll be posting a fun little tutorial describing the whole process, but for now this is a little sneak peek at one of the background shots and how I set up the camera to take the images used to create the final HDR image.

One of the challenges in shooting HDR is setting up to take multiple exposures of the same scene. You really need to use a tripod and make sure that nothing moves…you can notice the flags on top of the distant building to the left have some ghosting – this is one effect of the HDR process. anything that moves from one frame to the next shows up like a ghost image. For my purposes I wasn’t terribly concerned with the movement of these flags – it really isn’t going to be a big factor. I set my Camera to manual and took seven frames each a full stop apart…so if you consider the normal exposure as “0”, this gave me the following exposure sequence (in stops away from 0):  -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3. The other main consideration here is to make sure the exposure changes are made by adjusting shutter speed and not the aperture.  Changing the aperture will create inconsistent depth-of-field between the different exposures which then leads to a strange fuzzy-focus issue in the final HDR image. Not cool. So when shooting for HDR I always either set my camera on manual and take multiple frames by adjusting the shutter speed, or set the camera to auto-bracket in aperture priority mode. The difference here is that I prefer to get at least seven bracketed frames for each image. It creates a smoother effect after processing. The auto-bracket function on my Canon 7D only takes three frames: the baseline exposure and then one over and one under-exposed frame. I tend to only use that option if I’m stuck shooting hand-held for some reason. I’ll switch into burst-mode and just hold as still as possible while letting the camera make the adjustments in exposure.

Photomatix by HDRsoft does a splendid job of combining your series of photos into a HDR image. You can load the images directly into the program or run them through a plug-in from Adobe Lightroom. This is how I tend to work because I like to catalogue everything in Lightroom. You select the photos you want to use and export them into Photomatix for processing and then the final image is pulled right back into Lightroom for a little final tweaking. I’ll be posting a more in-depth tutorial on that whole process in a few days.

Happy Shooting!

-David

Shot with Canon 5D mkII and 100mm f2.8 Macro lens at ISO 12800

I’ve been approached by a few different photographers asking about recommendations for upgrading their cameras. Most of these inquiries have been from talented amateur photographers looking to “go pro” and get better shots. Usually, my first reaction is that it isn’t the gear that gets you the great shots…although it does help. Your skill in understanding how to use what you have is most important. That said, there are many reasons why upgrading from an entry-level DSLR camera makes sense.

More often than not photographers at this level have done some research and know about the technical details of the cameras, but are looking for a bit of first-hand user feedback. With that in mind I’m going to take a look at two of Canon’s “pro-sumer” cameras that have been on the market now for a couple of years, the 5D mkII and the 7D. In a follow-up article I will have a photographer friend of mine relate his experiences in shooting with various Nikon brand cameras in this same level.

Living with the 7D

I’ve owned my 7D now for about 2 years. This camera has been my sidekick on numerous fashion shoots, a good number of roller derby sports events, weddings, family gatherings, pestering my cat and countless random forays into other photographic realms. I can honestly say that I have never ceased to be impressed with how well this camera functions. I can get good sharp images while tracking a fast moving skater in fairly low light. The crop-sensor format gives you a nice close-up range when shooting with a 70-200mm lens. The 7D is also quite at home in a studio cranking out fantastically detailed portraits or macro work. Once you’re familiar with the control layout the camera is a breeze to set up for any shooting scenario you get involved with.

The image below shows a relative comparison of the zoom factor with the 7D’s crop sensor vs. the 5D mkII’s full frame. I shot the opposing camera body from the same location with the same lens at 6400 ISO.

Shot with 24-105 f4L at 105mm

Experiences with the 5D mkII

For the purposes of comparison, I borrowed a 5d mkII from a photographer buddy of mine, Marc Lebryk. He gave me a quick synopsis of his likes and dislikes of the camera and after spending a few weeks putting the camera through its paces I’m pretty much in agreement with him. It’s a great camera…but. Some things about it weren’t really updated when it came out. The auto focus system is an older design, unchanged from the original 5D. It just feels a little sluggish in comparison to the 7D. It doesn’t track moving subjects as well and shoots fewer frames per second…although still more than a Rebel. On the plus side, it’s a full frame camera that delivers absolutely stunning 21 megapixel images vs. the 7D’s 18. When I loaded the first few test frames onto my computer I just kept repeating…”Wow.”

High-ISO shooting

When the 5D mkII came out its high-ISO capabilities were big news. Now that the buzz has died down a little bit and even better high-ISO cameras have been developed, I think it’s worth mentioning that you might not be completely thrilled with the pictures you get in low-light conditions. They are certainly much improved over earlier camera models like a 40D (which is my back-up body). But if you’re expecting to get a studio quality shots at high ISO settings, you’ll be disappointed. For reference – the cat’s eye image at the beginning of this post was shot with ISO set to 12800. It’s certainly a nice image, but still too grainy to maintain fine detail when printing large format prints. (Still, I think it’s fantastic that I’m reflected in Shaggy’s eye…Meow?)

7D @ 6400 ISO

The 5D mkII’s low-light capabilities are marginally better than the 7D, but the exposures are more consistent with the 7D. What do I mean by that? Well, I set each camera at ISO setting of 6400 in manual mode using my 24-105 f4L lens with an aperture of f4.0 and 1/400th shutter speed. I set the cameras to burst and fired off as many consecutive images as each would handle in a RAW file format. The 7D stopped shooting at 18. The 5D mkII  stopped at 14. Comparing each exposure, there was slight variation in the images from the 5D mkII, but virtually none from the 7D. The noise level was fairly equal, but the 7D had a higher occurrence of hot pixels. Not much, but a noticeable difference. Does that exposure variation with the 5D mkII matter? Probably not for 99.9% of photographers. It was not much variation at all and was only noticeable doing a test like this. If you were to shoot a series of high-speed images to combine into a single stop-motion style composite image, you might notice a difference, but it would be a very simple fix to adjust that back in to match.

5D mkII @ 6400 ISO

Shooting video

I’ll be honest – I’m not the best person to ask about shooting video with these cameras. I’ve done it, and they both do capture full High-definition video quite well, but I use a dedicated video camera for my video work. Why?? Because these DSLR’s weren’t designed to shoot for an hour continuously. The sensors start to overheat after about 7-8 minutes and the camera stops recording until it cools off. Additionally, the audio capabilities are lacking in comparison to a full-fledged video camera. That said, they can produce some phenomenal video (The season Finale of House was shot using only 5D mkII’s). So if it’s something you’re going to consider, either one of these cameras can get good results.

Conclusion

So, between the two, as a generally great all-around entry into the big-leagues camera body the 7D is a very solid performer. It produces great images with excellent saturation and contrast, sufficient resolution for all but the most insane enlargements and has a great autofocus system. If you are going to be primarily concerned with the best image quality you can get for the money, the 5D mkII will serve you well. Its bigger sensor with more pixels gives you photos that are just breathtaking…when they’re in focus. Which, they will be if you primarily do one-shot focusing and aren’t trying to chase around a gaggle of children at a wedding reception. For a studio or landscape photographer who wants the bigger images and isn’t interested in rapid fire shooting, the 5D is a winner. If you like to shoot sports, the 7D’s crop-sensor (which effectively gives you a longer telephoto), high-speed shooting and autofocus systems will delight you. When I first unleashed the burst mode on mine in a sports-photography class the look on everyone’s face was priceless. You’d think I had just opened up on the scene with a machine gun! Certainly, there are faster cameras out there. The newly announced 1DX can belt out about 14 frames a second…and you could get four 7D’s for the same price.

View from the White River Park walkway

View from the White River Park walkway

Indianapolis.

This city has been my home for all but a few years of my life. It is a fantastic city – peaceful yet bustling with activity. We have a world ranked women’s roller derby team – the Naptown Roller Girls. There is Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave.) – a delightfully intriguing mixture of arts and entertainment with such places as the Rathskeller and the Theater on the Square.

And then…there is the Super Bowl.

This year is really starting off with a bang. I’m not generally a huge football fan but I do enjoy watching the games. Ask me who won last year’s big game and you’ll just get a shrug of the shoulders and impish smile. I dunno…It’s just not something I follow that closely. Last night’s trivia night halftime question was to name the four NFL coaches who have had four Suber Bowl losses. Well, I can name a total of two coaches and they both no longer work for the Colts!

Anyway, with all the hoopla over the Big Game it’s brought me to the understanding that this is something I should experience – just to say that I did. I mean…there’s a zip-line strung up between buildings in the middle of the city! That just doesn’t happen every day around here. My friends and I are going to be wading into the crowds this afternoon, so I decided to do a brief drive-through just to get my bearings…and of course take a couple photos to share. I decided to get a view that most likely isn’t going to be played on all the network stations – they are all focused on the crowds and the stadium and the big trophy slapped on the side of the JW Marriott building. Well, I’ve included some of that…but from a distance, with a more serene and reflective view of the city…a view that even some locals aren’t familiar with.

This is an HDR exposure of the downtown skyline taken from the West side of the city along the White River Park walkway. The big square building in the center is the JW Marriott – the side opposite from the Super Bowl Village and the Vince Lombardi Trophy mural. The Lucas Oil Stadium is to the far right. This is one of my favorite views of Indianapolis. It’s close enough to feel like you are in the city, yet removed enough to still feel like you have your own space. You can sit quietly and contemplate while joggers huff by and gasp out a friendly hello. There is a little bit of traffic, but not so much that it becomes obnoxious.

So if you come to visit this crossroad city…by all means indulge in the hustle of the downtown activities. But if you want to get away for a breather…and some good photo ops…be assured that there are opportunities to do so readily available

~DVD

Indyshoooter’s Photo of the Year

Posted: December 23, 2011 in Photography

This year has been an exciting year for me. I’ve had enough photography and video projects to keep my creativity revved up and with a good helping of encouragement and advice from some new online friends like Light Stalking and Prairie Light Images, I launched Indy Shooter with the theme of making Photoshop more approachable for photographers. There is certainly still work to be done, but I’m very grateful and beyond excited to see what the New Year brings!!

My personal photographic addiction is in the realm of fashion and portraiture. That doesn’t stop from shooting anything interesting I come across, but I’ve had the great honor of working with a wonderful Indianapolis-based Fashion magazine, Fashion Wrap Up. Their editorials are gorgeous themed spreads covering some great trends and they offer lots of entertainment and fashion news as well. I’ve had a number of fantastic photoshoots with FWU but took a break for most of this year to attend some classes and work on some other projects (video work for the fantastic Naptown Roller Girls among them!!). Then earlier this month FWU and I  got back together to do a Holiday themed shoot and the results of that effort are some of my favorite images to date.

That said, I am both proud and humbled to announce my personal Photo of the Year:

IndyShooter Photo of the Year (© Fashion Wrap Up)

Many thanks to everyone involved, but especially Christy Pastore – editor of Fashion Wrap Up, Melissa Ingersoll – Allure Salon, our model – Amanda Katherine and our location for the shoot – Cambria Suites in Noblesville, IN.

Putting together each of the looks was a huge undertaking by Melissa and her team from Allure and I would be remiss if I did not say that they did an absolutely amazing and professional job. As a photographer I cannot overstate how valuable good stylists and make-up artists are. Without their hard work none of these shots would be possible. Amanda and all out models for the day were total troopers putting up with all the fussing and posing and running from dressing room to set.

Details of this photo:

I’m fairly certain it was Christy who first had the thought to shoot this pose – looking out of the elevator as though she is searching for her significant other, but once that idea was struck it was a definite “Yes!!” moment. While Amanda was finishing with make-up I set up my lighting in the small hallway that served as the elevator landing. My main light is a 21-inch beauty dish/strobe combination set up just a few feet to camera left. There were two small speedlight flashes gelled to match the color temp of the main strobe. One of these was further down the hall to the left and another was inside the elevator with a small 4-inch dish reflector and grid to give Amanda’s hair and dress a nice back rim-light. These were all triggered with a Pocket Wizard Flex-TT5 system for Canon. I shoot primarily with a Canon 7D and 24-105 F4L lens.

Just rattling it off like that sounds so easy, but this location was quite a struggle for me to figure out how to light it. That’s one thing I love so much about portrait shooting on location – there’s always a new challenge!!  It took me a good half hour of jockeying lights and angles to decide what worked.

One entertaining tidbit…once we had everything set and were shooting, the elevator alarm started going off because of Amanda holding the doors open (she got a good workout from that too, by the way!). So there was extra pressure to work quickly since we didn’t want the hotel management to kick us out after our first set!

Post processing:

This image was a joy to work on because it just kept getting better and better. I tried a couple different approaches to editing the whole series, but here are the steps I went through to finish out this image:

  1. I used Lightroom to do initial exposure adjustments, boosting contrast and noise reduction, cropping and rotation and spot fixing a few spots and fingerprints on the metal surrounding the elevator.
  2. Once the image was imported to Photoshop, I ran a high-pass filter to smooth out the skin tones (see my post for a description of this technique).
  3. After that I used Topaz Adjust on the Strong Details setting to really make the dress and textures pop. Topaz is one of the few external plug-ins that I use.
  4. The result of that process was faded a bit to blend back into the original image
  5. A very slight darkening vignette was aplied around the edges of the image
  6. Finally I used the dodge and burn tools to selectively enhance shadows and highlights such as folds in the dress and details in her hair. A very small brush was used to burn the details around her eyes. 

Look for a future post describing more of these techniques in greater detail. 

See the entire editorial at Fashion Wrap Up. (All images are Copyright Vivid Oranje Consulting, LLC and Fashion Wrap Up magazine). For a behind the scene’s look at this shoot visit AK’s World, a blog written by another of our fantastic models, Adrian Kendrick. 

Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Holiday Season and I’m looking forward to an exciting New Year!!!

Peace and Joy,

-David Van Deman