Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Amazing Grace

Adding a bit of texture to an image is a simple process and I feel it can make a good picture great.  Today we will look at a simple example of texture application and how it can finish an image.

What we have here is a simple enough of an image that just needs to be "finished". As it was out-of-the-camera, it would probably have made everyone else happy, but to me it needed closure.

Posing The Model
In this situation we have Grace here with some large black wings.  Sure, I wish they were white to complete the "Angel" theme, but we work with what we are given, don't we? Sure, I could have changed them to white, but that is quite a bit of work that I don't feel really would add that much to the image overall.

I cropped in a bit (by moving my body) and shot this portrait oriented image to highlight her good looks and body.  She is a mother of three by-the-way, which just goes to show being a mom isn't the end of a modeling career.

Sure, I could have made this a full body shot, but I don't think anyone really cares about what shoes she is wearing.  I do have some full-body shots, but those are profile or using more interesting poses for Photoshop projects I have planned for rainy days.  In fact, I think you need a mix of shots when you are shooting.  I use a six shot method, where I take two shots at full body (different poses or angles), two a medium (like this image or a bit closer), and two nose-hair extreme counting close-ups or head-shots.  I then change my position, rotate the camera and wash, rinse, repeat.  I find that in using this method I never encounter a situation later where I missed shooting some amazing make-up or awesome leggy bits.

Lighting The Model

There are two lights in this shot: A large softbox camera left (gridded to prevent to much splash on the background), and a strip box camera right (slightly behind the model).  In retrospect I should have moved this rim light forward as the wing is blocking the intended lighting on her side.  I did fix it in later shots, but I really like this pose and look from the day of shooting, so we just deal with it and learn a lesson about big black wings wrecking your perfect shot.

This image was shot with my Nikon 70-200 ƒ2.8 (my favorite lens), on my Nikon D300.  It was exposed at ƒ5.6 at 250th ISO 200.  Aside from the aperture, these settings are typical for me as I shoot indoors most of the time using my Einstein strobes.  Oh, I did put up an equipment page for those interested in what I have in my bag(s).

Post Production In Photoshop
Basically we follow my standard workflow in this image.  The first thing I do is duplicate the entire image in case I screw up and trash some part of her.  It should be noted that I am working on this as a smart object until I begin the actual editing process.  I do this so I have the same controls one has a Lightroom without going all the way back to Lightroom to make some minor adjustment.

Once I am sure I like the coloration and exposure, I will rasterize the smart object and begin removing any  scratches, pimples, whip marks, hand-cuff lines and so on that *might* be present.  I will also take this time to liquify any areas of the model that they might feel sensitive about (tummy, arms, armpits, freakishly huge earlobes, etc).  No need in this case, but this is when I would typically perform that correction.

With all of the skin retouching done I begin adding adjustment layers for different elements of the image I want to highlight.  For example, there is a curve just for the wings.  I wanted to pop the contrast and show more of the details here, so I applied a curve adjustment (slight S shape) and masked the layer so it only affected the wings.  I did the same with the hair, as I really like the addition of contrast in the hair on most of my models.

Lastly I add in the texture for the background.  In this case it is a sky image combined with textures from the venerated and often referenced Fly Paper Texture collection.  Using blending modes I mess with the combination of the textures until I like what I see.  I am not going to give you the *exact* recipe here as I feel you should experiment with your own combinations rather than making something that looks the same as my example.

I will be posting another shot of Grace soon (full body//profile) once I get that work completed.  Total time to complete this image was around 15 minutes or so.  Most of that time was me messing with textures until I was happy.  In retrospect I feel I should have increased the exposure of the halo on her head, but perhaps someday I will re-open the image and take the needed 30 seconds to make it perfect.

Thanks for reading and if you want to feed the monster, please leave a comment to motivate me to write more often :-)

1 comment:

  1. Great shot and i love how it looked once you replaced the background.

    Would have been really cool to see those wings hit with a hard rim light.

    Nice shot. :)


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