Archive for February, 2010

Before and After — Andrea and Marissa

The Before and After series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Andrea and Marissa rehearse at Cafe Dance in Austin.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/400
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 800
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Composition and Processing

  • The interaction between the two dancers has an interesting impact on the weight of Marissa’s leap.  Andrea is only assisting Marissa’s movement, so she’s not exerting much effort.  But it looks like she’s actually lifting her in the air, making Marissa appear light as a feather.  Without that contact, Marissa’s leap is simply normal.  This is a good lesson in context, one that’s often noted in terms of colors and shapes but, in this case, is about how subject interaction redefines our interpretation of each individual.
  • On a more mundane note, I would have rather shot this with another lens.  The best camera is the one in your hand, however, so better to take the shot than not.  This is one of many arguments for high resolution camera sensors, since they give you great cropping options in post while still preserving a fair amount of detail.

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February 22 2010 | Photography | No Comments »

Before and After — Zion Up Close

The Before and After series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Zion poses near the Austin Music Hall.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • There’s nothing quite like a whole lot of soft light to enhance the skin tones of a subject.  I took this at one of my favorite outdoor locations for creative portraits, a deeply recessed patio out behind the Austin Music Hall that faces west.  In the afternoon, the light bounces off the light concrete floor and blue metal roof to completely encase the subject (you can see the width and direction of the light from the catchlight in Zion’s eyes).
  • The background for this shot is fairly bland, but combined with the soft light offer a wide range of processing options that all seem to work.  Good photos can usually be processed multiple ways — that may say something about the primacy of composition over other variables.  A couple extra examples are included below.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Zion’s smile.  Even if all the other variables — light, crop, color — were perfect, this photo simply wouldn’t work without that tangible emotion on the Zion’s face.
  • I cropped this tight to make it more intimate, but I had a secondary goal as well:  the hair wasn’t quite working.  Cropping in a bit eliminated the issue.

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February 20 2010 | Photography | 2 Comments »

Before and After — John Moran in Black and White

The Before and After series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

I had to fly out to San Francisco this week for work, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to attempt a blog post during the flight.  Wireless service is now available on a number of airlines, and it’s relatively inexpensive (and fast).  So tonight’s post — plus last Tuesday’s — comes to you from 30,000 feet.

This shot:  John Moran at the Austin MAC fundraiser last summer.

Exposure

  • Shutter:  1/2000
  • Aperture:  f/2.8
  • ISO:  200
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Composition and Processing

  • While this is a candid shot, it falls into the category of what I like to call “people as background”.  There’s a ton of activity around John, but he’s looking out of the scene at the camera.  So not only is he the central visual element of the frame, he’s also separated from everyone else by his different (and more personal) relationship to the viewer.

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February 19 2010 | Photography | No Comments »