“I Could’a Been A Contender”

“I Could’a Been A Contender”

The assignment was to illustrate the phrase: “I Could’a Been a Contender”. Taken from the Marlon Brando movie, “On the Waterfront”, the phrase has been used to mean a lot of similar feelings… not making the cut, not being good enough, or being held back.

The P52 Pros came through with some amazing work.

I want to share them with you here.

To see more work from the Project 52 Pro shooters, visit the site at www.project52pros.com.

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Tomas Jansson used a large softbox to camera right, and a white fill card to camera left in this still life.

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Rasmus Hald wanted a feeling of sadness and introspection. He used a 15 degree grid spot on the main overhead light, and a 30 degree grid on the face of his subject, dialed down well below the exposure of the hands. This gives the image a powerful, selective feeling of isolation.

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Anders Eriksson kept the image very dark, and the mystery quite high. A single medium softbox was used on both half of the images which were then assembled in Photoshop.

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David Price wanted a feeling of isolation and sadness, so he used the composition and lighting to achieve a feeling of despair.  A single medium softbox from camera left was skillfully blended with the ambient sunlight to present a very cohesive image.

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Katherine Gooding used a single small modified flash to make this emotionally heavy image. A fill card to camera right kept a very small amount of detail in his hair on the shadow side, and the light on the rough sweater lets us feel the texture as well as witness the pose of surrender.

Sat-P52-Week-49-David-Price-3-Despair

David Price also submitted this feeling of loss and despair. A single strobe with a reflector was used high on camera left. The sharpness of the unmodified reflector gives extra detail to the mountain of paperwork that has ‘temporarily we hope’ halted the progress of the subject.

Assign49-Alicia-Bonterre-Monday

 

Alicia Bonterre worked with a friend to make this haunting photograph in Trinidad. A single gridded light and intentional underexposure gave a gritty edginess to the image.

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Filipe Martins entry also uses a pool of light to emphasize the loss and pain of not being able to cut it on something you love to do.

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Adi Talwar used window light and carefully selected exposure. A lovely, moody portrait of his daughter.

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Bob Knill’s entry shows the pain of loss with pools of light and shadows telling the story. The subject’s sense of loss is wonderfully played by his model.

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A single gridded softbox from camera axis gives a punchy light to this portrait. Bret Reynoso chose the graphic lines of a strongly backlit window shade to be his canvas.

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Irene Liebler’s neighbor is a motocross rider and familiar with the pain that riders meet when they lose. Irene used three softboxes to give this portrait emphasis. and the great edgework of the light adds dimension as well.

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Julie Clegg chose a single very large softbox in very close for this “contender”. Great direction and a subject willing to ‘emote’ gives us this strong portrait.

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A sense of loss and a style reminiscent of ‘film-noire’ was the impetus for this image by Girish Basavar. Using a hallway and a beauty dish, he was able to make this image of high emotion. Grid spots from left and right behind added additional light to help tell the story.

mon-assign49-Petar-Dopchev-1

Peter Dopchev shows us the moment when a competitor realizes it is all over for him this season. A small pool of light and a cinematic approach to using the shadows adds a bit of mystery to this understated portrait.

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Russel Harrison reveals the moment when finally alone and away from the crowds, an athlete reflects back on the loss. Strong emotions from the subject and a sense of understatement makes a powerful portrait. A single speedlight, tightly wrapped in plastic to stay dry, is fired from the back of the shower and diffused with additional plastic material.

Project 52 Pros is one of the most fun and important things I have ever done. To see this quality of work coming out of the group is simply stunning.

Thanks to all the P52 members for keeping it real.

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CreativeLIVE Photoshop Week

I was asked for some ideas of which shows to watch, so here is my suggestions for both beginners and power users. CreativeLIVE is bringing a ton of material to the week, and most time slots are showing two different classes.

Please feel free to watch more than my suggestions, but these are the ones I think you can do well with based on your level of Photoshop expertise.

And remember to check out my CL classes while you are there.

Lighting Essentials

Product and Still Life.

Photoshop Week LINK HERE.

Beginner Monday:

Habits with Dave Cross

Lightroom Automation Jared Platt

Photoshop Camera Raw Jack Davis

 

Power User Monday

Photoshop Functions Dave Cross

Creative Photoshop Panoramas

Photoshop Camera Raw Jack Davis

 

Beginner Tuesday

Photoshop Smart Objects Dave Cross

Building LR Presets Jared Platt

Fundamentals of Photoshop Layers Kharana Pilcanic

 

Power User Tuesday

Photoshop Smart Objects Dave Cross

Compositing Tips Colin Smith

Camera Raw Jack Davis

creativelive

LINK HERE.

 

Beginner Wednesday

Shooting for Creative Lindsay Adler

Photoshop Blend Modes Lindsay Adler

Advanced Beauty Retouching Lindsay Adler

 

Power User Wednesday

Advanced Layer Tips Julieanne Kost

Automating Camera Raw Julienne Kost

Photoshop Masks and Channels Colin Smith

 

Beginner Thursday

Mastering Photoshop Curves Colin Smith

Selection and Masks ONeil Hughes

Photoshop Image Size Khara Piicanic

 

Power User Thursday

Working with Video in Photoshop

Sharpening Savvy Lesa Snider

Moving and Removing Lesa Snider

 

Beginner Friday

Black and White ONeal Hughes

 

Power User Friday 

Automating Photoshop Julienne Kost

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Understanding Reciprocals: A Basic Tenant of Exposure

Understanding Reciprocals: A Basic Tenant of Exposure

Lighting Basics, Class Three

I am often asked what do I decide first when making a photograph. The answer is easy… aperture. Aperture changes the way my photographs work more than any other thing. It is important to note that I am not an ‘action’ shooter or sports shooter, for whom shutter speed may be the most important decision you need to make. Shooting action means knowing what shutter speed is needed to make it as sharp as you want it to be.

My work is not shutter speed centric, if that is a term that we can agree on. Aperture controls depth of field, and that is the first thing I look at when deciding what kind of photograph I am going to make, or what kind of look the photograph will have in relationship to the focus of subject / background.

We know that at f-16 things are more in focus in the background than if we shoot the same shot at a ‘wider’ aperture like f-4. Additional situations that can create or diminish the DOF blur is the distance of the subject from the background and how close the subject is to the lens.

Add to that, what the lens is… wide/normal/telephoto and we see there are lots of things to think about along with the aperture itself. The shot below was shot on an 80-200MM f2.8L lens and it is zoomed to 200MM. I shot this image at f2.8 so that I could maximize the blur behind her, and distinctly show her face in detail. As you can see, the DOF is so shallow that the back of her head is falling out of focus. Exactly what I wanted, so aperture first was the most important decision. The background was a house and bushes probably 30 feet behind her. 7

The same lens was used in the studio before, but I wanted all of the subject in focus. Front of the nose to the back of the hair. The crispness was what I was seeking. I chose f-11 for this shot so that the DOF would be deep enough with the lens being as long as it was and as close as it was.

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The image below was taken in Florida and the first thing I determined was that with my 200MM lens at f2.8, I would not be able to get all of her face in focus. Knowing that the background was simply sky and clouds as far behind her as possible, I could grab a little more depth of field and still have the feeling of a very shallow photograph. I chose f-5 for this shot and kept both of her eyes in focus as well as most of her hair. The background seems to be as blurred as the background in the first shot because it is so far behind her.

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We know that lens length can affect DOF as well. Below is a photograph taken in Bermuda. I used my 20-35MM f2.8 L Canon for the shot, and I was set at f-4. Look at how much more the background is in focus behind her. At this distance, the wide angle lens has much more DOF than a telephoto making the same image. (Part of your assignment for next time.)

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A wide angle lens used at maximum aperture (f22) was able to keep the subject in the foreground AND the windmill in the background in very sharp focus. This shot, taken in a Minnesota corn field, was done with the 20-35MM zoom at 20MM. The resulting image has full depth of field.

windmill2

In order to do this in a reasonable amount of deliberation, it is important to understand our reciprocals… the relationship of shutter speed to aperture to ISO needed for exposure.

ISO 100

f-2.0 @ 1/4000
f-2.8 @ 1/2000
f-4 @ 1/1000
f-5.6 @ 1/500
F-8 @ 1/250
f-11 @ 1/125
f-16 @ 1/60
f-22 @ 1/30

As the aperture becomes smaller, the shutter speed gets longer. The same amount of light is coming in based on brightness (aperture) and time duration (shutterspeed), but it is rendered much differently on the film or sensor. F-2 has far less DOF than f-8 with the same lens at the same distance.

I do everything at ISO 100 to start. That is my base and I can make simple decisions faster if I have the same base for each situation. NOTE that I do not necessarily SHOOT at ISO all the time, I just use it for a simple base. So if I know that we are shooting at ISO 100, and the meter says f-8 @ 1/250 I can make a decision rather quickly… I want to shoot the picture for minimal DOF and that means f2.8 or f-2, right?

So I simply open up the aperture three stops (5.6 to 4 to 2.8) and shorten the shutter speed the same equivalence of three stops as well… 500 to 1000 to 2000. The exposure of f2.8 @ 1/2000 is the same as f-8 @ 1/500 but the image has less DOF.

Knowing how to use reciprocals, and working with them on every shoot will help you understand the choices YOU must make for your own imagery.

In the shot below, I was using a Canon 50MM f-1.4 lens. I knew how much DOF I needed to keep the three subjects in focus, and set the camera settings for EXACTLY that setting – f2.8 to be exact. At a wider aperture (f2 for example) one of the two ladies would have been out of focus. Being able to take a meter reading and make the reciprocal changes in my head meant that I was able to catch the shot as the light began to play in and out of the clouds.

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Tutorials from YouTube:


Assignment: 1.

Telefoto or Zoom Lens:
1. Frame a subject at the longest length you have on your zoom. A tightly cropped headshot or similar. Shoot a set of reciprocals for your test. Start at f-16 and end up at the widest aperture you have. Meter for f-16, then adjust by quickening the shutterspeed for each adjustment wider on the lens.

f-16 @ 1/125
f-11 @ 1/250
f-8  @ 1/500
f-5.6 @ 1/1000
f-4 @ 1/2000
f-2.8 @ 1/4000

2. Leaving the zoom at it’s longest setting walk backwards to get a full length shot of the subject. Do the same exposure range as you did before.

3. Now use your normal lens, or zoom back on your zoom and make the same set of exposures at the same crop… so you will now be closer to your subject with a bit of a wider lens (50MM / 70MM on the big zooms).

4. Put on a wide angle lens and come in close to approximately the same distance. Do the same exposure exercise as above. Pull all the images into Lightroom or Bridge and compare. Notice how the exposures are the same, for each series – in fact they should all match exposure wise, but how wildly different they look with the different lenses, and the different apertures.

This is a great exercise to do to get familiar with WHY you make the choices you do and how those choices affect the way the final image looks.

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In Threes

In Threes

Many times in catalog or product work we are asked to shoot the same thing from different angles. This is NOT as easy as it sounds.

Objects present light differently depending on shape, color, texture and dimension… and many objects have different qualities on different sides of the product.

Below are three examples of a subject shot at three different angles, or three different ways.

They show what can go right and what can be more challenging.

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Anders  Deme (UK) used a large softbox and several white cards for this shot of expensive Brandy. You can see the cards reflected in the bottle cap and the bottle itself.

Sat - Assignment 27 - Jorge

Jorge Rodriguez (Cambodia) used natural light coming in through a doorway, and white cards to enhance the shiny surfaces of the antique sowing machine.

Chopsticks at Multiple Angles

Damian Powell (UK) used a large softbox to the rear of the set, and adjusted white cards in the front part of the set to get the exact look he wanted from the shadow sides.

Takeaway.

To shoot one thing from one angle is far easier than to take the same item(s) and shoot them from three angles. The way the items look, how the photographer presents them, how the lighting can help/hinder the process… all are taken into account when attempting to shoot something from different POV’s.

Assignment.

Find an item to make three shots of in the same way. Not closeups/distance shots, but from same distance and with the object being in the same size in all images. Notice how Damian above worked with DOF and angle while preserving the same size of the object he was shooting.

Two additional shots for your inspiration:

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Duane Middlebrook (Philipines)… Duane worked with a large light source and white cards to keep the shiny black parts of the blender alive.

 

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Patrick Mathews (US) used gelled speedlights and a small softobx to capture the grit and detail of a fireman’s helmet.

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Double Portraits: David Price

Double Portraits: David Price

Bay area photographer David Price was assigned to do a double portrait. He chose some co-workers who were happy to work with him to make the shots. It is always wonderful to have people want to work with you to make images, and David took his time to make the images in the style he is working on.

You can see the delicate back light that falls from top left to bottom right on the curtains behind the subjects. This soft approach to a ‘spray light’ adds warmth and depth to the image.

Sat-2013-P52-Week-47-David-Price-2-Martha

As you can see in the setup below, David has used a small shoot thru umbrella to do double duty… the background light, and the fill light on the camera left of her hair. As the light falls down the curtains, it is brighter at the top and gently gets less powerful the farther away from the source. This additional gradient also helps the image keep dimension.

Sat-2013-P52-Week-47-David-Price-3-Setup

David also changed the direction of the light while working with the subjects. For the close shot above, he turned the umbrella to light the wall on camera right and just out of the picture. This provided a big, soft source for the face. In the second shot above, he moved the umbrella back to light the subject with it instead of the wall.

The same scheme was used in the portrait below.

Sat-2013-P52-Week-47-David-Price-1-Deborah

 

Takeaway:

A light can be used to make another light as David has done above, using the umbrella to light the white wall for an even larger source.

Assignment:

Make a shot with one light source… without moving the subject, modify that source to come from both directions – again without moving the light. Aim the light toward the subject, then aim the light toward something else that can be used to light the subject. Find an area that allows you to do this without having to move the subject.

Sources can include large white walls, shower curtain reflectors, fomecore boards or V-flats or reflectors.

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A Simple Portrait by Tomas Jansson

A Simple Portrait by Tomas Jansson

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This portrait of a young man was shot by Tomas Jansson, Norway.

fri-assign01behindthescen-Tomas-Jansson.

 

Tomas used a softlighter umbrella (a bounced position umbrella with a diffusion screen over the front) for his main light, and a silver reflector for a secondary light source from camera left. This very specular ‘fill’ added some extra shine to the subject’s arm and shadow side of the face.

By keeping the silver card at an oblique angle to the subject, Tomas was able to control the fall of the specular along the arm and (camera) left side of the face. The softlighter also provided some wonderful light to the book case behind the subject, giving the impression of more ambient lighting in the set. Notice the fall off in the setup shot. Also notice how far away the subject is from the background – far enough to keep the light from being blocked by him, and creating a shadow. This also enhances the feeling of more ambient light.

Takeaway:

Simple lighting can sometimes do double duty. Providing not only the main light, but also a sense of more ambient. Shiny reflectors create a sense of a secondary light source since they are specular in presentation.

Assignment:

Using a medium to large umbrella, with or without diffusion, create a shot where the umbrella provides not only the main light, but the ambient behind the subject as well.

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