TP2B: Portfolio Images

Here are the final set of images that I am submitting for the Techniques & Processes 2B module.  Many of them have already been featured in previous posts but I wanted to give the reasons for each ones inclusion.

Green Screen Composite Image:

The first is an example of me applying the techniques for using ‘green screen’ technology.  This is a composite of 2 separate images, one of me in front of a green paper backdrop and the other of a brick wall.

Clamshell Lighting:

An example of using a studio-lighting set-up involving 2 lights directly in front of the subject with one light above the other and the camera shooting between them.  Also in this shot, I have pushed the exposure on the face a little further than I would have otherwise to give that bleached, smooth-skin look that a lot of headshots are using at the moment.  This isn’t a composite, Sam was actually standing in front of the wall but useful to compare with the shot above.Using Dodge/Burn Technique to Clean up White/Dark Backgrounds:

I used the Burn tool in photoshop to clean up (darken down) the areas at the top and bottom of this image so that they wouldn’t distract from the main subject.  We were shown how to use the Dodge tool to clean up white backgrounds and this is the same technique applied to darker areas.  Separating Your Subject from the Background:

I have included a couple of examples here where I have used different lighting techniques to provide some separation between subject and background.  In the first I have used a light behind the subject facing forward to provide some rim lighting adding highlights to the hair and shoulder areas and in the second I have used a light behind the subject facing the background to light it separately.

Best Practice – Commercial:

A fun image demonstrating creativity to produce an image which I believe could be used to attract attention and successfully promote my business.Best Practice – Technical:

A portrait shot using natural daylight and some on-camera fill-flash (set to -2/3 exposure) balanced to lift the shadows but not be too obvious.  This was taken recently for Bradford College’s Style Academy.Giclee Prints:

A couple of images I have had printed as Giclees (using inkjet printers rather than photographic paper) to show how images can work on different paper types.  The first is on a ‘pearl’ finish from and while I am not a big fan of glossy Giclee prints I do like this paper for colour images.  The second is from a Bingley-based printer on Hahnemuhle White and also includes a further example of me using lighting to separate the subject from the background (you can see a highlight on her hair).  I think both are really successful portraits though which is the main reason they are included here.

So what do you think?  Are there any images above you don’t think should be submitted?

Posted in Techniques & Processes 2B | Leave a comment

TP2B: Playing with Catchlights

When researching Headshots I came across the work of Peter Hurley, an american photographer specialising in this area.  He has a rather distinctive catchlight in many of his shots which is essentially a square of light which surrounds the pupil of the subject’s eyes.  He uses the set up in a similar way to a ringflash where he shoot through a pool of light centred around his lens.  To achieve this he uses constant lights for his subject and flash for any background lighting that he chooses.

So Sam and I attempted to recreate the look with whatever we had around.  With no constant lights we opted to use the modelling lights of the flash heads and with each fitted with a softbox we tried to set them up in a rectangular shape through which we could shoot.  Using a constant light allows for the careful placement of the lights and knowing exactly what the catchlight is going to look like.  We actually couldn’t manage a true square/rectangle of light as our softboxes were all different sizes so it was impossible to get them all in the desired position.  Also, the catchlights we did produce went beyond the iris of the eye and squared-off the pupil which wasn’t a good look.  An adjustment of the lights relative to each other or putting a little more distance between the lights and subject would fix this issue with a little trial and error.

Using the modelling lights allowed us to open up our apertures and as a result create a shallow depth of field which is something I use on external portraits but not in studio with the brightness of flashheads. The modelling lights also produce a much more orange light than the flash heads themselves so we had to compensate for that with our white balance.

While the experiment itself was limited it does interest me and I think a set-up involving a series of LED bulbs would possible work quite well to produce the desired catchlight.  I do want to look a little more at dropping the depth of field in studio.  I have read about using ND filters on either the lights themselves or on the camera to reduce the output of the lights once set up to allow for wider apertures to be used.



Posted in Techniques & Processes 2B | Leave a comment

TP2B: Baseroom Promo – Group Shoot

A few weeks ago we were asked to produce a promotional shot set in our common-room in college.  Divided into small groups the objective was to create a clean and useable image from amongst the mess and chaos that is the baseroom.

Given that Google had implemented the contentious changes to their privacy settings that morning we decided to create something a little more topical:

The challenge was to produce a clean and tidy image from a less-than-ideal location.  If you look at the image below you can see that a wider shot would have included unsightly and distracting cables, pipework and the general clutter that goes with a working office/computer room.  So we decided to create a fairly tight shot to exclude as much of the unwanted distractions as we could manage.

We moved a few items and positioned the screen to suit the image best.  We also moved the camera position and height a number of times to give us the best compromise between the POV for the shot that we ideally wanted and the desired composition.  You can see the reflection of the single light we used in the screen below.  In the tight surrounding we were working in it was impossible to avoid the reflection with the light.  Another issue we had was that the correct exposure for the overall scene resulted in the screen looking blank.  To address both issues the final image is a composite of the image below with a second image taken without the flash that is correctly exposed for the screen.  We simply layered the 2 images and deleted the screen from the ‘lit’ image to allow the correctly-exposed screen to be visible.

It was an interesting assignment to work as a group to come up with a concept for the image and then implement it, ensuring that everyone (SamF, MichaelaT and MarkB) each had a voice and felt like they were making a worthwhile contribution.  It was important that each person explained what they were trying to achieve with each step to ensure everyone was on the same page and were bought-into the approach taken.  Working out how to achieve a clean image was a collaborative effort involving a lot of trial and error creating test shots.

Posted in Techniques & Processes 2B | Leave a comment

SP2B: Style Academy – A Photo Opportunity

This week we were asked to take some portraits of students finishing Bradford College’s Style Academy course.  The course is a 5-week programme available to students from across the college to help improve their self-confidence, their people skills and to highlight the standards to which they must aspire when dealing with the public.

All the guys we dealt with over the course of the day were still teenagers and mainly students from the catering and tourism departments.  Some were a little less comfortable in front of the camera than others but we worked with them in groups and kept things informal and fun to ease any pressure felt.

I tried to keep chatting to them and reassuring them both verbally and showing them the images being created on the LCD screen of the camera.

It was an enjoyable day and a good experience of dealing with lots of people and trying to get some pleasing shots of them with whatever the local area had to offer.    Speaking with the organisers it looks like they will have a number of photoshoot opportunities coming up in the near future so I asked for them to keep me in mind when looking for photographers.

Posted in Studio Practice 2B | Leave a comment

Happy Half-Birthday!!

This little guy is 6 months old today and his mum wanted some images to mark the occasion.  His big sister (almost 3) had some images on her half-birthday so mum wanted to do the same second time round.

Mum won a free photoshoot with me as part of a facebook promotion I run each month so this was an ideal opportunity to make use of the offer.  The intention was to combine this with a family portrait but big-sis went and got chicken-pox a while ago and is still a little spotty so we will do the family shoot another time.

As for baby-boy, he isn’t quite sitting up on his own just yet so we had a lot of fun and games as he rolled about but he was really good for the couple of hours we were together.

Posted in Studio Practice 2B | Leave a comment

SP2B: Middle Child Project – Further Edit

Following on from my discussion with Andy earlier this week I have been looking at an alternative way to display the images from the project.  Let me know what you think:

Posted in Studio Practice 2B | Leave a comment

SP2B: Photographing People Wearing Glasses

As a spectacle-wearer and someone who take a lot of self-portraits I am acutely aware of the drawbacks of shooting people who wear glasses.

The first and most obvious I guess is that of reflections and glare.  Oftentimes, one of the subject’s eyes will be completely hidden by the reflection of the light source you are using.  This is all down to the angle of incidence and angle of reflection (don’t worry….they physics doesn’t get any deeper than that!) which essentially means that the angle of the reflection off the glasses matches the angle of the light hitting the glasses and if your camera is in line with this reflection then you get glare!

So how do we avoid reflections ruining the image?  Well we could ask the subject to remove their glasses but for many people who are full-time spectacle-wearers this isn’t really appropriate.  Their glasses are as much a part of their identity and style as anything else and the world is accustomed to seeing them in glasses.  Another suggestion is to remove the glass from the rims for the duration of the shoot.  Again, I don’t think this idea is really going to work for a lot of people.

The other option is to ensure that the reflected light doesn’t hit the camera.  Adjusting the chin of the subject downwards a little might be sufficient or ask them to tilt the glasses forward a little (so the arms are  not resting on the ears)…the light still hits the glasses but the reflection is now diverted below the camera and as such isn’t a factor for the image.  Equally we could move the light to change the angle of the light at source or is the glasses themselves are small then a smaller light source might do the trick.  If we do ask for the subject to lower their chin a little we have to be careful that we don’t end up with the rim of the glasses blocking or bisecting the eye or even casting an unwanted shadow across the eye.

The second issue which is a little more difficult to rectify is that of distortion.  When you see parts of the face through the lens of the spectacles they can appear further away than the parts of the face not covered by the lens.  This effect isn’t all that noticeable in real-life as our brains tend to compensate for it but it can be significant in still images.  In the image below you can see the effect on the subject’s right eye where the outside edge of the eye socket no longer looks aligned with the rest of the face.

Personally, I don’t think it is a huge issue although I must admit I have rejected images from this and previous shoots where I felt this distortion was distracting to the image overall.  There are some photoshop fixes out there for people who really dislike the look but they are not without their difficulties to produce an image that looks natural.

So tell me if you would have thought twice about the distortion until I pointed it out to you?  Any comments?

Posted in Studio Practice 2B | 1 Comment