Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hard Body In Hard Light

The model in today's image has one of the most chiseled physiques I have seen to date.  Not an ounce of fat on her from what I can tell.  I do have several more shots of her that I will be posting over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for those.

The lighting is going to be similar to what you have seen this past week with the high contrast beauty shots, but we are going to cover a photoshop treatment I do with hair quite often that I feel really ads a lot of zing to my images.

So, for the sake of those just tuning in, there are two lights going on in this shot, the beauty dish and the rim light.  The beauty dish is a Paul C Buff 22" white dish powered by an AlienBee AB1600 at ƒ16 with a 20 degree grid.  The power is up so high because I am shooting in an open room, and beyond the model is another photographer working with yet another model.  The rim light is at ƒ11 or so and has a 40 degree cloth grid on it.  The goal with the grids is not to accidentally light any of the other stuff in the room.  The rim light is behind the model and to camera right about 7'.  The key light is overhead about 2' up and 2' in front of the model.

Photoshop work on this image was also pretty easy.  The model's skin is flawless and doesn't have a single pimple or anything to remove, so not very satisfying in that department (yes, I will live).  However, the hair was a problem, as I had her throwing her head around to get this great effect, the hair opposite the rim light was severely underexposed.  The image would have been just fine as it was, but I really wanted a bit more pop on that side to balance the image.

The first thing I did is to Create New Layer Via Smart Object Copy and then set this new layer to the Soft Light (or Screen when I am feeling edgy) blending mode.  You should always be working on your images as smart objects if you can.  From Lightroom you can right click and choose Edit as Smart Object, so get used to doing that (I was I could make that the default from Lightroom).  Anyway, at some point during the development of an image you will need to rasterize these smart layers, so try and get your big moves done while the image is still smart to prevent damage to the underlying data and creation of noise.  In her case she had no marks to remove, so I didn't have to do these in any specific order.  If there were assorted hickeys and other marks, I would have to handle the hair issue first so that I could flatten the image before removal of those.

Once the new smart object is created I can then bring up the exposure and the fill light in camera raw.  Don't pay attention to the rest of the image, only the problem side with the hair.  Once we like what we see there go ahead and create a mask and fill it with black (thereby hiding all the corrections we just made).  Once you are ready grab a round, soft brush and set your color to white. We will ONLY be painting on the mask layer here.  Just go in and paint in the lighter version of the image where you feel you need it.  You can also consider things like the tops of the shoulders, collar bones, eye sockets and so on even though our real goal here was the hair.  You can easily undo any areas you dislike by painting black into the mask.  Once you are done, you can adjust the overall opacity or go back to camera raw and make minor adjustments to the corrected layer until you are happy with the result.

You can use this technique to easily correct portions of an image, and hair seems to be my favorite target for this treatment.  You can also do something similar with an overlay layer, but that is a topic for another day.

We do these shooting workshops quite often, so if you are in the Milwaukee area or can be, please drop me a line and I will add you to the list.  The models are all provided, and we also have some extra lights hanging around.

If you enjoyed this post, please leave me a comment so I can focus on answering any questions with future articles.


  1. Hi there! I just got turned on (no pun) to your blog from another blog and I can't member the prev. blog I was on! But, I love your blog, clean, precise, to the point, just what I need... Thank you for donating all of your knowledge. I appreciate it tremendously.

    In response to the old hair-in-the-face debacle, I must ask, did you see the new video about the new CS5 that is coming out with the one of the new PS capabilities being Content Aware Fill and the super easy Content Aware Scaling???

    With the Content Aware Fill, all you have to do is brush over that hair and VOILA it's GONE with the program taking MUUUULTIPLE samples from all around creating an almost PERFECT heal where unlike before, this action only took a couple of samples from around the selected area.

    A couple clicks and DONE. The new Content Aware Fill is going to take HOURS off of peoples work flow. And hopefully get us out there shooting more, spending more time with our families, or marketing more so we can sell more!!

    This new technology is truly amazing. Then there is another tutorial where in about 45 seconds you can take for example: someone who is standing up with arms straight out over their head and position them to be on their waist bent at the elbows without even being able to tell the difference.

    Is everything going to be done in post and there will be no 'real' photos straight out of the cam anymore? That's what scares me a little bit, there will be no need for attempted perfection in the view finder, it will be all done in post in a matter of moments, not hours anymore!

    Here is the link. I am certain you have seen this today with all the buzz going around, but just in case YOU have a life, here is the link anyways! :)

    And just in case any of your other readers want a good cry because they just bought CS4 last week after saving for it for 5 months..

    The new release is going to be April 12 I believe. And there is going to be a geeked out launch party online.

    I love your blog and am now a perma-fan. My biggest problem is lighting and multiple person posing and masking, of course.

    Me? A Canon 50D


    Petals and Paws Photography

  2. I am a beta tester for the new CS5, and yes a ton of the tools are going to be great. We are not actually allowed to discuss them, but I can tell you for a fact it will be a nice upgrade from CS4.

    However, keep in mind that a hammer in the hand of one builder does not mean they have the same skills as another person with the same hammer.

    So, the CS5 release will indeed bring some awesome tools to the market, but it will not replace the eye and skill of the user.

    Thanks for taking time to comment on my blog. Nice to know people are actually reading it. :-)


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