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25/08/2014 - 2:32 PM

Critique please.

Critique please.
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.

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?
08/11/2013 - 5:16 PM


StephanieI'm not sure how 'natural' you wanted the finished image to look Stuart, but you could do further tonal smoothing if you want to:
With the freq sep technique, if you copy the 'low' layer and add gaussian or surface blur to smooth out the tonal values in the face. Add a layer mask and invert it, then paint in the blotchy areas with a soft white brush.
The 'high' layer which supports the skin texture will still remain intact.

Alternatively, a lot more can be achieved with dnb. Add a black and white 'help' layer with the red set to between -100 and -150, and the yellow set to 0 - 100. This will accentuate the blemishes and uneven skin tones.

It starts off being quite time consumin, but with practice, the time taken diminishes.

PS: A boom arm helps to get the beauty dish central and close to the subject Smile
16/08/2013 - 9:41 PM

Whitby Walk

Whitby WalkI *think* Paul mean to blur the bg so it looks out of focus, which would help out with your problem with a low res bg image.
I think it's quite a good idea, but after gaussian blur, it would need a small amount of noise added (1-2%) to stop it looking too smooth.
I often use images in my composites that are smaller/lower in resolution than the primary image,
and as long as they are treated as secondary elements, they work well enough.
Another technique I use to adjust an image to be used in a composite, is the 'Match Colour' which is in the image adjustment menu -
however, it doesn't always work, but it might move the image in question closer tonally to the primary image.
07/07/2013 - 4:25 PM

Ballerina Portrait

Ballerina PortraitMaybe use a reflector disc between camera and subject to bounce some key light back up under the nose/neck/underarm,
or alternatively, use another light in the same position as reflector, set to 1 stop less power than the key light to use to similar effect.
This way you will retain the shadow edges, but control how dark you want the shadows in post production.
18/05/2013 - 2:52 PM


DebsI like where you're going with this - kinda dreamscape-ish.
I've done a mod, where I've desaturated the yellows and greens from the bg,
because for me, they were competing/distracting from the model, who I believe should remain the focal point - a personal opinion Smile
10/05/2013 - 2:11 PM

Amanda dreamy

Amanda dreamyFrom the thumb Stuart, the brightest image area is the lower right portion of the wall, which doesn't seem right.
I think the skin tones could be brightened, which would in turn make the model stand out a bit better.
12/01/2013 - 12:43 PM


LaurenLove the rich quality that most of the image has Stu,
but the hands also would benefit from some tonal adjustment to match the face,
and the hair, at a finer level, seems to lack the contrast that is in the face.
06/01/2013 - 10:59 AM

Amber Posing

Amber PosingI too prefer the original, but this is interesting Stuart, as it shows how you can manipulate an image to change the expression;
The dodging on her left cheek has created the impression that she is puffing her cheeks out, which is possibly not what you were trying to achieve?

One technique worth exploring, when doing a global(highlights/shadows/structure) dnb on the face, is primarily to use 'colour range' tool under the 'select' menu(use sampled colours from menu, dont check localised clusters, and set to selection option below image) -
Use the colour dropper to select the brightest area of skin, then move the fuzziness slider up to expose the naturally occurring highlights of the face.
You can either just make a visual note of these area, or make the selection.
Use a curves adjust layer to lift the highlights, after locking the shadows with a point on the curve.
Invert the layer mask and use a soft white brush to gently reveal the adjustment of the highlights.
Use the feather slider on the adjustment layer to tweak subtlety.

Repeat process with shadows.

This process will look better if you do a micro-level dnb to even out the smaller light/dark variations visible throughout the face, and although this is time consuming, gets quicker with practice.
Hope this helps.
06/12/2012 - 5:55 PM


Lights!Lovely burlesquey shot Darren which looks good with the light included.
I do find the illuminated cherubs in the foreground moulding quite distractive,
and would be tempted to burn that area back so that it was only just noticeable,
focusing the attention entirely on the model.
Mono works a treat!
04/12/2012 - 6:16 PM

Cold Winter

Cold WinterInteresting image - I like the composition.
The model on the left is stealing the light literally, and her eye contact is more piercing - more committed and dominant.
I've done a mod to lift the right hand model, but her eye contact is different, as are her lips/mouth shape - slightly negative.
What I've learned from this image, is the importance of posing two models together so they are equally sized,
but also the importance of directing them to express something mutual.
29/11/2012 - 8:47 PM

the dark side

the dark sideI like this concept/composition Phil, but I cannot help but wonder whether the model would blend better with the background, if her skin tones were adjusted to look cooler.
I realise you may have already considered this, and that what I'm seeing is what you want it to look like, but thought it was worth mentioning.
11/03/2012 - 8:18 PM


KimspirationThe main thing I notice is the lighting;
The 'Kim' shot uses an overhead beauty dish - well just to one side of centre actually,
whilst your lighting from the other side, and more like 45/45 degrees(Rembrandt).
It isn't so much the sharpness of the model's eyes, as much as 'Kim' is using her eyes differently. and Kim's mouth is slightly open - small but significant adjustments your model can make for the next shoot.
I would probably crop this differently - either just above or through the hair, and just below the arms or through the arms - if you know what I mean?
Also use a curves layer mask to see if you can bring out any more detail from the dark hair(cam left of face).
Nonetheless Stuart, a great portrait with great eye contact, nice model, and nicely lit.
25/09/2011 - 11:16 AM

Just resting

Just restingI really like this. Great use of light, which feathers off so softly, it works well for me.
Love the bright catchlights too.
I might have tried using a piece of white card(or similar)reflector high on camera right, just to lessen the shadow area below the eye/above cheekbone.
04/09/2011 - 8:52 PM

Waking The Witch

Waking The WitchThis is excellent Nick.
I have often considered membership, just to enable me to upload the individual images that I use for my comp's - which are generally the same - bg, sky and subject, and sometimes with a few flying birds thrown in Smile Paree has often in the past done similar with her comp's, using the variants facility.

I wouldn't say it is that difficult to get willing models to participate in such projects - all the models I've met through 1 year at/on modelmayhem, are actually more interested in projects such as this, as opposed to run-of-the-mill shoots. I then share my choice of the usable shots with those involved(model/mua etc), using a fileshare site like dropbox.

The one thing I have learned is to remember to take all your resource shots, including that of your subject, from the same angle, with an eye on light direction, but these are things I imagine you might have already considered.
I have also found that if I'm photographing models in a studio situation, with a view to using the shots for comp's, a grey bg works best, as it works as the best contrast for most hair colours(blond to black), and produces no colour cast, that can be caused when using green, blue, (and also black or white) bg's.
Look forward to seeing your future projects.
01/08/2011 - 10:08 PM


SophieThanks Paul Smile
My suggestion to you would be to buy a manequin from ebay, that will enable you to experiment with lighting set-ups. It's a lot cheaper than using models/mua's etc while your playing. Then, once you have a couple of light set-ups that you like, go to the studio, use a model with some experience with posing - pay if necessary, and use the mua - you'll get some great results.
Best of luck Smile
31/07/2011 - 9:35 PM

Urban Girl

Urban GirlA nice portrait shot Lesley - I also enjoy off-camera flash work, and like you, enjoy the attention that the model I'm shooting, and I get from passers by who are wondering if it's a celebrity being photographed.
I'm assuming you had the flash gun mounted on a stand? If you have the available resources, it would be worth investing in a brolly - either a white shoot-through type of a white or silver reflective type which has a black outer. This will enlarge the light source, which will lessen the highlight caused by bare flash light. Lastolite dobrollies I mentioned, and an adaptor for your stand that allows a flash gun and a brolly to be mounted together. You will attract more attention using a brolly Smile
Looking at the shadows and highlights in your image, try bringing the light source closer to where you're shooting from - say 30-45 degrees round from your position. This, especially with the brolly, will light your subject face very nicely, and will also lessen shadows you have down your subject's arm. It will also create catch-lights in your subjects eyes which looks very attractive.
Hope this info is in someway useful...
22/07/2011 - 9:44 PM

skin treatment - the vote

skin treatment - the voteBefore I started doing any portrait/model photography, I was approached by a friend who knew I could use photoshop, asking me to retouch some images for her. I found a technique on youtube that used layers of gaussian blur and median noise to obliterate any skin texture, which could then have the layer opacity adjusted to show more or less 'smoothing' .
As a newly found technique I found this a lot of fun, and then discovered Port.Prof, which again found to be a great tool, especially given how well priced it is. Again, it can be used as a layer over the original, and either adjusted via opacity, or hidden and painted in where required, and used very subtly, it can produce some okay results.
It was over on modelmayhem that I started finding some very interesting forum discussions on retouching, that look to maintain skin texture, even for the glossiest of magazines.

A good retouch video
I discovered Natalia Taffarel on MM, and she has some great videos on youtube, showing in great depth how to retouch at a very high level.

That said, it is very labour intensive, but it has made me appreciate that done properly, retains a natural skin look and can make a good image look fantastic.
What I have found is that when a model from MM finds out you can retouch/ make their skin look better, however it's done, it's more than likely they will want some work done ... if possible Smile

So, to the question, I think it(skin treatment/retouching) looks great when it's done properly. I prefer to do as little as possible on my work, so I like to work with models that have good skin, but also that aren't concerned about having that kind of work done on images of them. It leaves me to play with the images more creatively.
17/07/2011 - 12:00 AM

Promotional photo for MUA

Promotional photo for MUAI like this as a composition.
I think also that the decorative work is nicely illuminated, whilst the area that the mua is working on has the light feathering off, leaving the mua in low light as requested, while still being in the picture.
As an ullustrative shot, it work well.
I might try/experiment setting the key light directly over and in front of the subject as a beauty dish might be positioned, creating a more even facial light, and get the subject to hold a relector below in order to minimise any strong shadows below the chin and lighten the shadow on the lower cheeks which occurs with this light set-up.
This should also keep the mua in fairly low light.
I'm unsure about the bg, but that's a personal thing - if it's part of your design and the mua likes it, go with it.
24/06/2011 - 8:42 PM


RUSTYYou've captured a lovely look from the model, and she's nicely lit too.
Personally, I would crop out the rusty area to the left of, and including the cracked part, which would still give you the rough texture and rust colour from what was left.
This would also enlarge the subject within the composition.
This is just my point of view, but thought it might be worth mentioning.
Either way, the model steals the picture, so good job well done Smile
12/05/2011 - 10:20 PM

Robyn 2

Robyn 2Hi Fran - I like this, and the use of the rear gelled light. The image has an oriental feel about it.
I've done a mod which addresses 2 ideas I had whilst looking at the image;
It's worth experimenting with white balance depending on the colours and tones you have in your image - with the pink dress and rear light, I've simulated a cool white balance of 4000 ish, turning the grey bg to a soft blue which complements the pink tones. A personal choice, yes, but worth considering and experimenting with.
I think it would enhance the image if the rear gelled light were to create more of a rim light to the subject, and whilst it does this partially, could be more even and widespread. It may mean using another gelled light(s) behind the subject and camera right and/or left. I use speedlites for this and they work quite effectively. If you're metering, these need to be set closest to your target aperture for them to show up, with your key light being 1/2 - 2/3 stop lower powered. I then tweak the subject in PostP to get the overall balance right. The rim lighting would also give more depth to the image.
HTH Smile