Sunny: Image Breakdown

If you read my post last friday (or just looked at the photos) you saw some of my new photos of a local athletic model Sunny. Today, I’m going to be doing the usual image breakdown to give you all an idea of how the image was created from start to finish. This one will be a lot simpler than the others because I only used one light. I was working on some lifestyle portraits in hopes of getting a job which required several different locations. I don’t know about you but it’s not fun carrying around the gear required for my traditional three light setup. So I opted for something much simpler.

Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, 63mm, f/4.0, 1/60, ISO 400

When on a photo shoot, you don’t always have the freedom to bring all of your gear. Sometimes it comes down to making choices on what’s the minimal amount of gear that will help you create what you want to create. For this photo shoot, I brought along my 22″ beauty dish because it’s by far my favorite lighting modifier. It creates really flattering light but also can be super dramatic.

This setup is really simple and most commonly referred to as Rembrandt Lighting. If you look under Sunny’s left eye you can see a small triangle which is very characteristic of Rembrandt’s paintings. I achieved this by taking my 22″ beauty dish and raising it up about 7′ and angling the light down at Sunny. I used the diffusion sock to soften the light which just means the transitions from highlight to shadow isn’t as harsh as it would be without the sock. I took the light in pretty close and offset the light to the subjects right. She probably could have taken her right hand and touched the light because I had it in so close.

The positioning takes a little bit of experimenting because too close to the camera and her entire face will be lit which ruins the Rembrandt light. If you move it too far to the side of the subject the whole other side of her face will be in shadow creating a Split Light look rather than a Rembrandt. I chose this lighting for two simple reasons. I think the Rembrandt look is fairly dramatic but I knew I could add the drama like usual in post. The second reason is for the shadow. I had her pose right up against the wall to get that incredible shadow behind her. I love how in the left of the frame it just falls straight back but on the right side of the frame it’s long. I think that helps add to look and feel that I try to achieve in all of my photos.

Another technique that is slightly being used here is dragging the shutter. Dragging the shutter is essentially using strobes or speedlites to capture the subject and then you leave the shutter open to bring in some of the ambient light. I usually shoot my photos at 1/125 to 1/200 of a second (because my max sync speed is 1/200). When you start bringing the shutter speed down to 1/60 and 1/30 you bring in a some of the ambient. I did a poor job in planning for this type of photo because normally when you drag the shutter you want to use a tripod to make sure you stay still. I didn’t have my tripod with me and just did my best to keep the camera as still as possible.

I was really happy with how these photos turned out but the problem was I can’t post 6 or 7 images that all look the same on my website. Nobody wants to see the same look, the same model, the same processing but different poses that many times. I knew I could get away with two photos max. The problem was I had three images that I really liked and decided  that I could take the two portrait oriented photos and composite them together.

It was a fairly simple process. I took the image on the left and flipped it horizontally so the light would be in the middle of the frame so I could get those to match up making it look like the light was coming from the center of the frame. All that was left was to remove the line down the middle which was done with the clone stamp and then a slight gaussian blur. Then to get the lighting to match I used some dodging and burning on the cement background, as well as, a little hue/saturation adjustment to make the skin tones look similar. And that’s how I got to the final image.

As always, feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to respond. I don’t really have any other blog posts scheduled for the week but I’ll try to put something together. I have some lifestyle shots of Sunny and Lauren (the model from the lifestyle running shots I posted a few weeks back) that may be worth posting but I’ll have to figure something out. I’d like to get one more post this week and then something at the beginning of next week before I go on vacation. Let me know if you have any suggestions for upcoming posts!

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