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Critique please.

By JackAllTog      
Hi,
I love to keep improving my images and this is one that I'd like to maximise the look of so I'm asking for all and any critique you think might help.
I don't often ask for CC so forgive the amount of the detailed description of how I got to this point so that you might more easily notice errors/improvements along the way. Also I'm comparing my shot with another super one from K4RL as this is the look I'm aiming for here.

The image was taken with 2 speedlites about 7 feet away and either side of the model but pointing mostly up onto the low ceiling, a 3rd speedite is about 12 feet from the model and behind me aimed straight at the model.

I'm about tummy level with the lens and with the focus point set one her face at f6.3 its a 24-105L lens so its fairly good, and at f6.3 i think i should be in a good part of the resolving aperture range. I know i'd get better resolving resolution with a better Lens - perhaps the new 24-70 or a prime. Aso if i had more room i'd have stood further back and used a longer focal length.
I'm on an 18Mpixel APS-c sensor, at ISO100 for max quality, however with such a tall model I think I'm pushing the limits of the sensor maintaining noiseless detail towards the edges of the frame. This is where i beleive a fullframe modern sensor will help in managing the noise/grainyness of the close up skin detail. I've slightly cropped from 5184x3456 to 4674x3116, so could have filled her more in the frame, and so also have removed some of the edge of the frame.

In Lightroom I've tweaked the levels for WB, added 2/3rds of a stop of exposure, added +30 clarity and vibrance for detail and punch, a tiny S wiggle of the tone curve. Also to try and pull the skin tone of Rachel in K4RL's shot i've popped up both the saturation and luminance of the Red and Orange HSL channels.

In PS I've done a small amount of tidying with the patch tool on the odd blemish, then the High/Low frequency separation technique for more sharpness, then delete the low filter layer modification on critical areas such as the eyes and the lips. Then a gentle sweep on a new layer with the mixer brush tool in the direction of the flow highlight or shadows etc to soften larger areas - thanks (arhb). A couple of D&B layers to amply the skin and hair highlights and deepen the shadows. Then a stamp layer (copies all previous layers to one top one) and a smart sharpen on this avoiding the skin areas.

Back to LR for a tiny tweak of noise reduction and a 1000px export with standard output sharpening for screen. (80% quality, AdobeRGB1998).
(Original added too for comparison - i really won't mind if you like the original better).

Please tell me, in anyway you like, how you might have approached this.
Many thanks,
Stuart

Tags: Critique Fashion General

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Comments


dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
24 Aug 2014 1:42PM
Wow, that's a LOT of processing!

I'll leave detailed comment on that side of things to others who know far more about it, and will deal with the taking and the compositional side.

I'm not a fan of speedlights myself. They always seem to be expensive and a lot of trouble compared with proper, plug-in studio flash - even the most basic sort gives a good quality of light out of the box (as the box usually includes a softbox or a brolly). They also have modelling lights, so you can see what the result will look like, more or less (this matters less with digital than it did 15 years ago on film!)

However, you have done a good quantity of this sort of work before, so you may have tamed cameratop units in a way I've never even tried to!

Here, you have shot from a good height (most people don't bother to stoop to waist level), and the model is impeccably turned out.

Exposure is excellent, and all the settings seem sensible. Studio units would give you more flexibility with power - f/8 or f/11 often works nicely for this sort of glossy glamour, and covers any focus errors.

The light's quite harsh - the well-defined shadow makes this very clear. With a confined space, you need to push the model rather tight against the wall, so it shows particularly strongly. You've also got the skirting board, the wooden floor, and a lighter band at the top.

I think I would have been tempted to hang up a sheet, and lose the floor and skirting board. I'd certainly clone out the band at the top, and I'd consider doing a number on the floor, too. I've spent around 90 seconds on cloning in my mod - not a proper job, but it makes the shot much simpler.

Often (and this is the advantage of using a studio, with a bit of room, and proper backgrounds), a little planning makes the picture right without too much processing.

I love K4RL's processing - I'm not sure what he does, but he achieves some wonderfully subtle effects. The link in your write-up isn't working at present - but I wonder if it's this shot ? You can see Rachel's standing in front of an infinity curve, and that she is some feet from the wall.

Compositionally, your model is very central - moving her from dead centre, or introducing more asymmetry to her pose would be good.

This shot has an awful lot going for it, and I reckon a little time setting up the shooting area would lift things a level or two further.
Sooty_1 12 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2014 4:21PM
You definitely need a backdrop, especially for full length shots. Half length and head shots can be worked around, but distractions like the floor and uneven backgrounds affect the picture quite a lot, and it's not an environmental portrait!

If you have softboxes, they would give you better wrap round and less harsh shadows, plus moving the model away from the wall will help too. You could double diffuse flash heads and shoot through brollies.

Comparing to K4RLs shots, his light is softer and more even, and slightly higher. You need to diffuse your lights more, and perhaps get them closer to the model, or perhaps move your model closer to them. One effect of the hardness of the light, is the prominent shadow under her rib cage, which unfortunately isn't very flattering. I'm not convinced about the sharpening either, as her look is quite stark anyway, but that's more subjective, and I find the pose a bit clichéd. However, it's often the case you need to run through the basics before the session really gets going, and there's nothing inherently bad about it. She looks a little detached, like she's saying "cheese" rather than interacting with you, but again, it might be the moment of the shot rather than the general feel of the session.

Studio work is less about the camera and mostly about details really, and tweaking the lighting and things like untidy hair will make all the difference, as will making it a dynamic process rather than a set of static poses.

Nick
JackAllTog Plus
13 6.4k 58 United Kingdom
24 Aug 2014 4:38PM
Hi John and Nick, Many thanks for these comments, I really value them and the time you took to write them. Yep John that's the link thanks Smile

Thanks for your excellent points about softening the light, i think i was a bit hopeful that the ceiling bounce would work better than it did and the softer lights would have helped me with the facial shadows i had to process out - I shall look at brolly stands and speedlite holders - only 1 is a canon speedlite the other two are much cheaper yongnuo manual versions. all on yongnuo triggers. I also have a large bendable bounce card i could use (Rogue flash bender large).

I think i get a bit lazy with posing and if the model is confident then i let them look after that bit - that's wrong and i should keep direction going. That would work with the off centre idea too.

Thanks John for the Mod, yes that is looking much better and is a part of why K4RLs works much better.

Many thanks for your comments, i'm still open to more if anyone else wants to say...
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
24 Aug 2014 4:51PM
It's fine to let the model pose for herself, once you've got ideas and styles aligned.

The problem is when you are aiming for fashion with a glamour model, or art nudes with a girl who isn't elegant in posing!
paulbroad Plus
14 131 1294 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2014 8:15AM
Lots of comment above so I shall go down a different route. This is OK but very ordinary in pose and composition. You now need to think,of decent poses and stories. In my days, many years ago, of semi glamour shooting I used background paper and/or cloth to get rid of wall and floor joints unless the room was part of the image.

Here, she is far too close to the background.

I had lots of props. Chairs, bits of plastic tube, hula hoops and so on for the model to pose with to make things interesting. Studio shooting is not easy, and this is a fashion shot, but without a satisfactory setting. Better to remove the background altogether.

My last regular model was keen and looked in magazines, finding poses she would like to do and bringing different outfits and props. We also played with back lights, coloured gels over flash tubes, tin foil backgrounds, christmas lights well back on black giving out of focus colour.

This pose is spot on. Attractive girl who knows how to stand.

Now think pose, impact, composition!!!!!

Paul
banehawi Plus
18 2.7k 4311 Canada
25 Aug 2014 12:18PM
Lots of good advice. I will add just a bit more, and a few mods.

Why save as 80% quality? Save as 100% every time. EPZ will handle the file size. Use sRGB for the web, not Adobe RGB.

You have accentuated an already remarkable rig cage, - better to tone that feature down I would think.

Post processing has lost all tonal qualities in her face, - its not only light.

Floor is angled as your camera is not parallel to the wall.

Take a look at the mods, - reduced the shadows on her rib cage and softened; increased exposure overall, and more on her face; tried a few different crops.


regards


Willie
JackAllTog Plus
13 6.4k 58 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2014 1:41PM
Many thanks Paul and Willie, I very much appreciate your words and mods - I've lots to go on now a few more terms to investigate and learn thanks Smile
I enjoy preparing for a shot, and would typically consider backdrops more carefully so thanks for reminding me on this and the props that can help.
I've now tried he 100% Jpeg and sRGB output - the image is double the filesize I think i can see a little more clarity thanks.

I'm going to look up more about the tonal quality aspect thanks.

Thanks & Very best wishes
Stuart
arhb 15 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2014 2:32PM

Quote:Hi John and Nick, Many thanks for these comments, I really value them and the time you took to write them. Yep John that's the link thanks Smile

Thanks for your excellent points about softening the light, i think i was a bit hopeful that the ceiling bounce would work better than it did and the softer lights would have helped me with the facial shadows i had to process out - I shall look at brolly stands and speedlite holders - only 1 is a canon speedlite the other two are much cheaper yongnuo manual versions. all on yongnuo triggers. I also have a large bendable bounce card i could use (Rogue flash bender large).



Don't rule this idea out Stuart - I've had some very good results and response/feedback to a couple of images where I've used this technique, and I was bouncing flash from on camera!
However, experiment with the technique, as it can create quite a nice butterfly lighting look for front on shots.
Also start with 1 and build on that.

Quote:
I think i get a bit lazy with posing and if the model is confident then i let them look after that bit - that's wrong and i should keep direction going. That would work with the off centre idea too.



If you use a good, experienced model in any genre, you should be able to let them look after that bit, so that you can keep on top of what you're doing.
Occasionally, you may need to give some direction for something specific, and let the model interpret that idea.

Do try kneeling or crouching for full length shots(and 3/4 length), as it only serves to enhance the model's figure, however tall she might be.
With a fixed studio set up with a floor, try moving round 30-45 degrees to give the room(skirting/floor) some perspective(vanishing point).
Regarding processing, maybe try inverting the mask(black), and then painting the adjustment into specific areas with a soft white brush, instead of using the adjustment for the entire image?
paulbroad Plus
14 131 1294 United Kingdom
26 Aug 2014 8:31AM
Be careful with JPG saving sizes. The top libraries are happy with 80% oto 100% and, as you realise, the file size can be dramatically different. I save at 90% for my main library.

If you take a good image, then save it at 100, 90 and 80, with a different title, then open them all together and view each in quick succession at 100% on the screen, full size, I challenge most people to see any difference in normal viewing situations.

Paul
30 Sep 2014 12:56AM
ok ... so here is mine.

the pose is just strange. I particularly don't like those chest bones sticking out - for me, that alone, ruins the entire pose which otherwise would've been lovely. The critique here: maybe some lack of direction when shooting.

Still on the pose, if i compare it to Rachel's one, the pose there is far more dynamic.

Another thing ... and I'm no expert myself - to the contrary as I'm trying to learn too - however, I think this is way too flat! there is no drama, no depth to it. Depth is normally added by some nice shadows. I think the shadows here are *not* nice - they are too hard. In fact, as I've just checked, Rachel's photograph is indeed nice in regards to the shadows - notice how soft they are!

At last, I think you are over complicating this with three flashes - as I'm reading (and again, I haven't actually attempted this), if I am to imagine myself doing this, I'll certainly use two flashes only. If I was to use a third one, I'd use it somehow at the back of the model for hair highlights. Then since the image it's quite flat, I'm assuming you are using same settings on both side flashes - which I wouldn't do. I would've most likely play around with key/feel idea ...

I think that's it Smile

Can't wait for the weekend see if i attempt few things myself with me new flashes and yongnuo triggers Smile

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