Friday, March 12, 2010

From The Black

The shot for today is another one from the catalog shoot I did for Daria Karaseva. I find this one interesting even though several things are "technically" wrong with it.  However, I really like the expression and pose for this model and love what the mistakes add to the image.

Ok, so the first questions is what is wrong with this picture?  Well, the major "flaw" is the fact the light isn't going completely into her eyes.  It is hitting the iris, but not very much, so it is not ideal in the minds of many.  However, I choose not to use a reflector in this shot simply because I like the "smokey" look in her eyes with this light source.  I also removed much of the outline created around her arms by the back light because I wanted her to fade into the background but still wanted the effect of the light in the hair.  Normally when using a beauty dish in this type of a configuration you would put a reflector under the model's chin (or waist in this case), to carry some of the light back into the eyes.  However, I really like the "single light look" on this shot, so I didn't do so.

For the key light, I used an AlienBee AB800 attached to their white 22" beauty dish and a 30 degree grid.  It is positioned about 1' over her head and about 1' in front of her.  The stand was so close I had to remove it in post, as it was in the shot.  I love the grids that you can get for this light, pity they are almost more expensive that the dish itself.  However, they are a great investment so I encourage those of you that like this type of modifier to bag them.

This was shot at ƒ11.  Why such a high f-stop?  Well, this shot is in the middle of the floor in a large room.  Behind her is a pile of junk against a wall, and I didn't want to dig out some black background when one isn't needed.  To put it another way, if we look at the ambient exposure of the room, it is black at ƒ11 and 250th of a second (my top sync speed without cheating).  So, if I expose the model at ƒ11, there should be nothing in the background that will be exposed because the grid on the light is not allowing the junk to be exposed.

Behind the model is one of my Nikon SB-800 speedlights modified with one of my trusty cereal-box-snoots to expose her hair.  That light was at 1/4 power or so, and is about the same exposure as the front light.  I did have to attach a radio trigger to this light, as the SU4 mode (slave), was not going to see the key light because of the grid.

Post processing was done quickly in Lightroom and Photoshop and basically involved a curve and a slight pop in contrast.  I also put a mask over her hair and pumped up the clarity to really bring out the details there. There is also a layer set to the Screen mode and masked to pop the jewelery.  I did this in a somewhat random way on the bracelet to give it a bit of a glare.  The opacity was reduced afterwords to something reasonable.

Hope this was a helpful post.  Please let me know if I am heading the right direction.  You can click on the image to see a much larger view.


  1. Thank you. It's always nice to get the input behind the beautiful work.

  2. I for one will follow this blog with great interest. I've admired your work on Flickr for a while now, and this is even more valuable to me.

    Thank you for taking the time to share these details.


  3. Thanks for explanation that was very illuminating.


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