Mission: FIND YOUR FOCUS PHOTOGRAPHIC EDUCATION IS DESIGNED TO PROVIDE POSITIVE, PERTINENT AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS.
Objective: FOUNDED BY CRIS J DUNCAN M.PHOTOG.CR CPP, FIND YOUR FOCUS HOST AN ANNUAL PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS TO REFRESH, RECHARGE AND RENEW THEIR PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY. CRIS J DUNCAN ALSO CAN BE FOUND EDUCATING PHOTOGRAPHERS AT SEVERAL PHOTOGRAPHIC EVENTS, CONFERENCES AND SCHOOLS. IN ADDITION TO THE EVENTS, FIND YOUR FOCUS OFFERS MANY PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO HELP PHOTOGRAPHERS SUCCEED. To learn more about Find Your Focus and Cris, click here
I hope you all are well. Sorry for my absence here, the summer has been a whirlwind. Today I wanted to share another part of my “Things to know about Lightroom” series and talk about local presets. Local presets are the adjustments that are applied locally to in image either via the brush or gradient tools. You can create these for repeatability and increased workflow. I have another blog where I create some and show you how I use them. You can see it here.
If you are like me, you have desktop and a laptop and it is nice when the workflow is the same between machines. Well, the local presets don’t have an import or export feature like global presets do, but you can do just that. I have created a quick video to show how to do just that. Happy cresting, Cris.
One thing I like to do is study cinema, and there is a documentary called “Cinematographer Style” that interviews dozens of these artist about their technique, style and craft. One of my favorite sections is from an award winning cinematographer talking about lighting. paraphrased , it goes something like this
“When things don’t work, it is usually because you have done too much of something or you made the wrong decision. Start taking things away, not adding too. Imaging a boat is listing, so you add sand to one side, then it list the other way so you add more sand and eventually the boat sinks. Less is always better.”
While words like ‘Always’ are powerful, there is available lesson in there for use as photographers. In the following image I was wanting to create a clean, beautiful image of this couple’s new found love– That is their story. I used Translum as the background with a Profoto D1 placed about 10′ behind it. The entire diffusion panel needed to be illuminated. I then added a 3′ Octa Box in front and above to light their faces. The moment I took the image, I knew something was off and I remembered the above quote, “If it isn’t working, typically you have too much”
I then turned off the overhead main light, adjusted my shutter speed by a stop and fired again. Boom! There is the story! It was in the shadows. I still achieved a clean, beautiful image of this couple, but I was able to add more of the story by taking away. In my opinion, the latter works better.
I am in love with one light images, God gave us one light and it works pretty well, so perhaps one is enough and less is actually more. That does not mean, we never use more than one light and we need to have a variety of tools, however, many times it does the job beautifully. I want to encourage you to just use only one light next session, and when something isn’t working, remember, it may be because you have too much.
If you work in Adobe Photoshop, one of the most frequently used tools is the Brush Tool. Whether for painting, layer mask, dodging, burning and so on, the brush tool is very versatile and in this entry I wanted to help in your control of this tool, mainly using flow and opacity options.
Simply put, Opacity is the intensity of the brush and flow is the rate of the intensity. By using these together, you can gain much more control. Below is a quick tutorial video I created to further explain.
In my previous post, we discussed how to use lighting to create a sunlit look when none exist. Today, we are going in the opposite direction and will be demonstrating how to make night from day. This process, as the one before, involves lighting. Many photographers assume lighting is always adding light. I beg to differ. Lighting is used to help tell the story you wish to tell. In this case, I wanted it to be darker and dramatic. I turned to lighting, but instead of adding light, I took away and then added it back where I needed it.
This image was captured around 11am on a sunny day. (See image below) To create the night time feel, I knew I needed to take away the ambient light and the best option to that IMO is a ND filter. I used a 5 stop ND filter for this image. After I was able to control the ambient, I needed to put light on my subject to match the light that will be lighting the scene, in this case the lamp post. You can see in the images below, where my light was positioned. The Profoto B2s were a perfect fit for this type of lighting set up. They are lightweight and wireless. Keep in mind that a ND filter will block all light. So when I metered my flash, I needed to calculate the amount of light lost, in this case 5 stops. The flash metered at f/22 and my exposure was set to f/4. I used a 2′ octa-box with a soft grid to create a harder light with minimal spread. Using some math and a little trial and error, I was able to get the quantity, quality and direction I was needing. Then, I simply needed to do a few finishing techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop. Here is a video I created as well that walks you through the process. Happy creating.
If you have been in a class with me you are full aware of my thought process when setting up my lighting. I am always, yes always, looking at light quantity, light quality and light direction, especially when on location, these three items are crucial in my process to create an image that makes sense and works.
Let us go through them one by one. First, light quantity. How much light is there? This really comes down to exposure. Do you have enough to create a printable exposure (we will talk about that later)? Do you need to add or remove light from the scene? Second is light quality. What is the hardness of the light? This will help you decide what modifier to use and how far to place the light from your subject. Finally, is light direction. Where is the light coming from? To make an image believable when augmenting existing light, I believe it needs to be justified, meaning, the light direction needs to make sense. You do not want light on the subject from left to right when the light on the background is right to left.
Take the following image. My subject wanted an image with his car looking like James Bond. We found a location that was clean yet had some design interest that would not take away from the subject. By asking myself the same questions we discussed, I am able to light my subject and create a successful image. The building behind him was in direct sun, he was in he shade of another building. I knew the quantity on the building was f/16 due to the sunny 16 rule and my meter told me he was f/5.6. That difference in light quantity allowed me to address the first question- Add or remove light. Below are images without the light exposing for him and the building. You will notice that the dynamic range was too far apart. Even if the light values were closer, I still would have added light to have the same quality of light. Remember I am looking at all three. The easier thing is to add light to my subject to make him f/16 rather than try to take light away from the building. I used a Profoto D1 head with an external power pack to do that.
Second, light quality. The direct sunlight produces a very hard light quality. The shadow edges are crisp. This answered my second question. I need a small light source to mimic the quality of sun light. I used a small parabolic reflector and had the light as far away as I could get it and still maintain the quantity of f/16 that I needed. Finally, light direction. This was easy in this instance. I placed the light high on a stand coming from left to right, the same direction as the sun. Now I am ready to create.
I believe the finished images looks like natural sunlight, an image I could not have completed successfully without walking through those questions and steps. Happy creating, Cris.