Monday, March 21, 2011

How I Got The Shot #14 - Natural Light Senior Portrait Shoot

Had a recent senior portrait shoot.
I'm not a light snob.  I like W. Eugene Smith's take on "what is the best light".  W. Eugene Smith was asked at a seminar he was giving the following question, "What is the best light to photograph with?"  He responded, "The best light is available light".  You could here a pin drop.  What did that mean?  Did that mean sunlight, perhaps diffused by passing clouds or filtered through an overcast sky?  He then added, "by that I mean any damn light that is available!"
 -- Thank you Joe McNally for introducing me to that story!

I hear all too often that people only want to shoot with "natural light".  Nothing wrong with that.  Don't want to invest in a lot of expensive gear, learn to use flash, speed lights, studio strobes, softboxes, umbrellas, gels?  Completely understandable.  However, if you want to be a professional photographer the utmost important thing is that when a client hire you for a job and you accept - you are able to deliver the shots you promised.
They don't want to be continually rescheduled during the rainy season or have to wait for an hour until the "daylight is right".  Just keep all that in mind.
Now, given all that...sometimes the sun is your friend and you can get all the light you need for free, from a source millions of miles away!  That is exactly what we did for this shoot.  Our Senior - Skyla.  Come with us on our journey - Skyla's photo shoot at Franklin Park Conservatory.

Check out the details after the break...
Creative Process:
You talk with your clients and find out what they want to do.  Sometimes they know exactly what they want and other times that come to you and ask for your recommendations.
For this shoot, I recommended Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH.  Why?  This time of year here in the great state of rains a lot and the skies are the exact opposite of blue and beautiful.  Not to mention it's cold too....winter averages are low and this time of year, we are looking at 20F.
We needed some place inside, that had great backdrops, photographer friendly.  Yep, FPC fits the bill.

Nikon D300
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8

EXIF Info:
Shot in Aperture Priority at 1/1000th  - f/7.1 - ISO 200 @ 112 mm - matrix metering
Shot in RAW - converted to JPG in Camera RAW

Lighting Setup:
Sunlight diffused through a large glass building.

Here is the large glass building:
See all that glassy goodness?!  It's a large window that lets light pour in.  Its large and diffused - just the perfect thing.

Here is image #1.  We've got a great background in the "Rainforest" room.  It can be a little tricky in here because of the humidity.  Especially when your client has nice, straight hair.

Image #2 - The Desert Room.
Warm, but no humidity and lots of nice rocks for Skyla to play .

Just like any photography shoot, it is important to know where your light is coming from and where to position your models in relationship to it.  Once you have that, you might need to direct your subject.  Try and have a good re pore with the model.  If they are at ease, you'll get better shots.  Skyla was great to work with. She took direction well, understood what we were wanting to do and did a lot to help get the shots you see here.

Post Processing:
Exposure/saturation/noise/sharpness adjustments in Camera RAW
Imagenomics Portraiture plugin - normal skin smoothing setting
Gothic Glow action from Action Central
A note about the Gothic Glow action - not only does it add a glowy effect to the image, bu it also boosts saturation of every color in the image.  So, what I do is I go back in and use the Hue/Saturation option in Photoshop and tame the color casts.  At this location, there is a lot of vegetation, so you get a green cast.

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