Sunday, 26 September 2010

Last WOW! Class of the year

Just finished my last WOW! Composition class for the year with a bunch of great students producing some awesome results.
Day one was spent shooting around Darling Harbour - looking at getting the strongest compositions that we could in this area. The main problem we faced on the day was contrast - one of the hottest days of the year, so the contrast was a bit on the high side.
On day two I decided to throw in a couple of amateur models for the students to shoot, just to see how they could cope and deal with the pressure of having to shoot 'unknowns' with no preparation at all. 
I shouldn't have worried because the students came up trumps with a bunch of great results, shot in a range of extremely difficult lighting situations.
All the images you see here have been retouched using Adobe Photoshop and Portrait Professional.

Shot by Simon Jeans, a very strong image with great rim lighting front and back. Excellent result.
Another shot from Simon. Very simple, telephoto shot with a nice fade to softness into the background. Olympus E-420
Interesting low-key portrait by Ritesh Patel using a Panasonic GF-1 and 40mm f1.7 lens, great for low light work but not flattering if you shoot too close to the subject (as it creates distortion).
Second portrait by Ritesh, nicely off-centre with the model looking off-camera - this produces a really strong sense of tension in the composition...
Classic portrait by Brett Matthews with perfect positioning of the model's head in the darker door panel in the background. Considering it's the background that normally lets you down in terms of a good result (or not), this is a near-perfect result.
Another portrait from Brett shooting with a 50mm f1.4 Nikkor lens - which produces a new perfect out of focus effect on the background
Great portrait from Helen McCaffrey - good angle which clearly adds a bit of 'stress' to the composition. Background is nicely out of focus too...
Another good result from Helen - a very 'casual' look from model Fabio. Black-and-white seems to work better in this example. Boys do black-and-white well...
Another strong portrait of Fabio from Selena Young. I converted the colour shot to black-and-white in post, simply because I felt it made the image appear stronger - but the casual pose and the attitude of the model shines through impressively. Canon EOS 450D.
Selena's portrait of Ute. We had a lot of discussion about how to shoot a portrait of someone wearing glasses. Ute solved the riddle by pushing them onto her head!
Fabio shot by Joseph Mirabito. A nice, simple portrait of the model with good clarity and a nice out of focus background.
Last shot of the day, again by Joseph Mirabito, good close-up of Ute. Canon EOS D-SLR.
Great job by all on the day.

Tips for getting better portraits.
Use a medium telephoto lens setting (about 80-150mm focal length) to get a nice head and shoulders framing withut being too close to the subject.
Work with a small aperture to restrict the depth of field to throw the background details out of focus
But be wary of where the camera focuses.
Manually focus on the EYES
Work with the subject - talk to the model - they will have no idea how the pictures are looking so show them what the results look like...

Monday, 13 September 2010

Montaging Images Together

This is the 'base exposure' - a bit dull and underexposed but ideal when you add the flashed highlights from the other frames
This exposure is just a bit brighter than the first one and is used to add a bit of mid-tone detail to some of the lathe - I find it more convincing to do this than just dodging the very dark base image.
This was again a dark exposure but I flashed from the lower left-hand side to add impact
Here's the final assembled and erased version comprising bits from all three images - plus a bit of burning in to darken the edges
As I demonstrated to a couple in the group last Saturday (September 11) at Cockatoo Island, with a tripod it is possible to shoot a few different flashed exposures then use Photoshop or Elements to copy and paste the elements together before erasing out the bits you do not like to reveal areas under the erased sections that you DO like. It's a hard technique to get your head round to start with, especially as you are shooting the segments, but once you have done it a couple of times, it becomes a lot more intuitive. TIP: Lower the opacity of the layer on top so you can see a ghosted image of what the lower layer details look like. Also use the eye icons on each layer to turn the visibility on and off to get a clearer idea of what areas are worth erasing, or saving...

Cockatoo Island - Straight Shots

Straight shots taken at Cockatoo Island (no HDR processing at all, promise) but these have all been edited/enhanced in Photoshop Elements! Click on any image to see a larger version.

Cockatoo Island HDR examples

Here are a few HDR examples taken at Cockatoo Island on my last few visits - and processed using Photomatix Pro. Click on any of the images to view a larger version.