If you look at the ARTICLES above, you will see one about “exposing to the right”. Read it. And perhaps remember this as a “take-home” outcome:
Provided you do not actually overexpose any of the channels (Red, Green Blue), you can always reduce brightness in all or part of the image in “post”, and as a result of doing this increase the quality compared to shooting it darker in the first place.
That is why we expose to the right. I am not advocating doing this all the time, mind you: it would mean post-production work all the time, and we are photographers, not graphic artists. But sometimes you simply do not have the time to put up lights.
When I shot that, I knew I would want the ambient light darker. But that would have meant getting out the softbox, boom, pocketwizards, and so on; and that simply was not practical at the time. So I shot like in the pic above, knowing that I could reduce—not increase— exposure in part of the image later by way of masking or vignetting.
With a little work, and I mean a little (perhaps a minute or two), that gives me something like this as an end result:
Now again, of course it is much better to actually shoot this way. But when you do not have a choicer, expose as highly as you can without overexposing either of the three primary channels; then, reduce locally later to taste.
The reminds me. When I was shooting the red jacket, the red jacket ended up, well, not red, at the bottom. More purplish. Look:
The reason: overexposure at the bottom, specifically of the RED pixels, when I expose enough to get the top lit. The model was too far from the window, so the light hit mainly her bottom half. Hard to see in person, but easy to see in the camera.
The solution: In Lightroom, in the DEVELOP module, go to the HSL pane; select LUMINANCE, and drag the RED Luminance slider leftward (minus). Now you get this:
Now that I am not blowing out the reds, I get a red coat!
Then the last step: I brighten the top with a graduated filter with exposure set to +1 stop. Now I get the final result:
This is all a matter of simply recognizing what is wrong. I was not able in time to fix it on site, but I knew I had enough leeway in my RAW files to fix it later. Sometimes, that is how it works.
I have illustrated many lighting techniques here, from “Terry Richardson Amateur” to “Studio traditional”. Let me add one I use. I call this “bright-bright-blur”.
What I do here is use a bright room with reflected light. I then use settings, and flash to achieve three things:
- Bright ambient light
- Bright flash light
- Blurred backgrounds
I do that by first, setting my exposure so that the meter reads +1 stop. Yesterday that meant 800 ISO, 1/125th second, f/2.0. I wanted f/2 to blur the background. I wanted 1/125th sec to reduce motion blur. That gave me the need for 800 ISO.
Then, I put on a flash, aimed it behind me 45 degrees up, and adjusted Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) to +1.3 stops. That gave me added flash to the already bright picture. That flash fills any of the darker areas. Great skin; great beauty light!
The pictures now look like this:
That is basically straight out of the camera.
Clearly, this is light suited to glamour and beauty, more than to my usual corporate headshots. The point is: it is yet another light type you can use; another tool in your creative toolbox. Master it, and then decide for each shoot what light type to use. photography is talking emotion. The more you master light, the more you can tell stories with your photos.
You have heard me talk about this many times. Without “shampooey goodness”, a standard executive portrait can look a little lifeless. This is straight out of the camera (“SOOC”) from yesterday’s executive headshots session in Toronto:
Add a hair/rim light and it becomes much more lively:
In these portraits, the main (“key”) light is on our right:
Fill light and hair light are on our left:
Now, it is important how you add that light. Very important. Aim it a few millimetres too far over and you get much spill onto the cheeks, as you see in this test shot of my assistant:
For reasons of skin smoothness, I generally prefer to keep it on the hair:
That aiming is best done by an assistant, who fires the flash by means of the test button to see where the light hits the head.
And one more thing: when someone has no hair, you call it a “rim light”!
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” (Robert Capa)
You have heard me on this theme many times. Getting close can often make your images better. You get close and intimate with the subject, your images have more impact. Like in these two, from that recent shoot:
Now of course you can do this by getting close. But be careful: closer than a couple of metres means you distort faces.
A better way is to use a longer lens. My favourite lens for this work is the 70-200, therefore. That has the additional benefit of not forcing you to be “in your subject’s face”. Yes, you have to have space, but that’s the entire point!
An alternate way is simply to use a somewhat long lens and then to crop for the rest. Those two were taken with the 85mm lens and cropped afterward. That is why you have all those megapixels, after all.
Next time you shoot anything, do yourself a favour and shoot the way you would normally shoot, but also shoot closer. Then when you look at the results, consider carefully which ones you like better. Where you like the close-up better: why? Where you like the wider view better: why? This is how you become a better photographer.
There’s still space on tomorrow’s Travel Photography session in Oakville, Ontario: 10AM-1PM, Sat 12 April 2014. $125 and it’s virtually private tuition!