Category Archives: educational

Photoshopping behind the scenes

I get asked all the time what amount of photoshopping I do to my images and the truth is not very much. Most of the time I prefer to do my work before hand using good composition, good lighting, and just generally get the fundamentals of photography “right” in camera. But sometimes I do take extra time and really tweak and tweeze a photo in the computer to push it to another level. Also let me be clear I have NO problem AT ALL with using the computer to enhance, change or manipulate a photo. There is an erroneous idea out there that with the invention of Photoshop so came the invention of the manipulated image. This is simply NOT SO. Here two examples of people using the dark room, airbrushing, and other techniques to manipulate enhance or just change an image…

The great master Jerry Uelsmann

And Joseph Stalin not only wiped people out with guns, but in photos too…

But I am getting a little off topic here, I love the computer and Photoshop, and have no problem using them to execute my vision of what a photograph should look like. Maybe on another day I will spend some time writing about this and going into in with more detail, but for now I want to show you what I have done with this image of a beautiful woman who I photographed this week. This 1st shot is straight out of the camera no changes at all to the image. Pretty good ha?

This 2nd version has been adjusted in Adobe Lighroom 3

I added just a tiny bit of green and yellow to the white balance of the photo, removed the mole from her chest and brightened the shadow on her face just a little. It’s getting better…

This finished version was exported into Adobe Photoshop CS5 and changed a little more there.

I added a little more yellow to the photo softened just a tiny bit, and cleaned up the stray hairs on her head, and last softened the shadow on her chest. So this is my vision of what this photo should look like as realized by the computer. I hope this helps illustrate to those of you who are interested what can happen behind the scenes on an image. As I said at the beginning of this post, I mostly don’t do this much work on my photos. Because there is something to be said for a more “natural” look. But sometimes I feel the desire to push an image to that next level…

Lighting a portrait with one light

This beautiful portrait was taken for Yvette in her home using only one light mixed with natural light. At first glance you might think it is all natural light. But I was actually using a small light mounted on a tripod and triggered with a Pocket wizard. Here are the technical specs.

ISO 100/shutter speed 125th of a sec./ aperture 3.2

Taken on a Nikon D700 with an 85 mm 1.8 lens

What I did was set the exposure to be just a notch down from what the ambient light exposure should have been so the background wouldn’t be to bright, and then set the light shot through an umbrella just off camera left to light her up a bit with nice soft light. I set her with the natural light coming from behind her to add a small edge of light that you can see on her arm and shoulders. This defines her visually from the background more to your eye.

See the below for an illustration of the room light and where the umbrella was.

 

“Behind the Curtain” Lighting a portrait with a window in the background

Here is a portrait I created recently. Kristy was sitting down in a chair in her living room with the dog on her lap. I pulled the chair away from the small window into the kitchen behind her to give the portait some depth. I also made sure that the other window to the outside was in the frame. I exposed for the window which by the way was ISO 320 at F-stop 5, and a shutter speed of 200th of a second. The camera was my Nikon D700 with a 50 mm 1.4 lens.

I created this portrait using two speed lights, (or flashes) One light up above the subject and camera right shot through an umbrella about 3 feet away from her, and one behind her about 12 feet and up about 7 feet in the air shot straight at her through the inside window from the other room.

Here is what the shot looked like with no lights in her living room. Not so hot with out lights ha?

Lighting tips

My Birthday is coming up in a little more than a week. And so I thought it was a time for me to create a self-portrait to mark the changing of another year gone by. While at it, here is a run down on the lighting set up for those of your who are interested

This was shot on my D700 Nikon Camera at ISO 160

Shutter speed 160th, aperture 3.2 on my 50mm 1.4 lens

I set up the camera on a tripod in my kitchen with a 5 second delay, positioned an umbrella camera right with a speed light bouncing off the umbrella, another speedlight positioned to bounce off the ceiling very near the camera to fill in a little extra shadows, and hand-held a silver reflector low and camera left to bounce a little extra light underneath my face. I sat down on a stool and took the shot. I like it! Hope you do too! You can see the lighting set up here.

The Newport Bridge

The beautiful Newport Bridge! Taken on a foggy day just after the sun dropped over the horizon. Taken on my 70-200 mm  VR lens. Set on a tripod just to make sure it was sharp. Taken at shutter 60th F-stop 2.8 ISO 640 on my D700

the newport bridge by Seth Jacobson

Behind the curtain Johnette portrait

Here is a portrait I created today of Johnnette. She is pictured here in the final shot with almost no post processing. I think I added just a tiny bit of brighness slider in lighroom but that is it.

 

The photo was taken on my D700 with ISO 500, shutter 1/60, and aperature of 3.2 on my 50mm 1.4 lens. So how I created it was I had her sitting in front of her piano with the lamp you can see on top of the piano on and another you can’t see hidden behind the piano also on pointed at the statue in the back, and another camera right and low on the floor lighting the background a little more. I had a 4′ silver bounce about 5 ‘ camera left that I pointed my flash at filling her in with soft flattering light from the left. I am very happy with the results!

HDR photo experiment

I have been seeing alot of HDR photography lately on the web and frankly most of it is pretty boring to me. Like a new toy photographers have gotten it is over used as of late. But some HDR can be really great. So I thought I would try my hand at it. I hope I didn’t fall prey to the siren song of HDR. If I start posting lots of these types of images please remind me of this post…

For those of you who don’t know about HDR or what it is. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and it combines multiple exposures into one final photo. I took three photo at Astors in Newport at a wedding a few weeks back and took some time to blend them using the new Photoshop CS5 HDR I like it. Here are two images dark and light that I started from I also took a middle exposure not posted but I think you can get the idea here.

And this is what we ended up with. Let me know what you think?

Model photo shoot

More in my series showing the behind the scenes of portrait sessions. Working with pretty people always helps… Lucky for me I had a beautiful woman to work with. I was using 3 lights for this portrait. two up and behind her about 5 feet away from her with no modifiers on them at all, just the speed ring/reflectors. For those of you aren’t photographers that is just a small silver ring to generally point the light one direction. I was shooting in an office building see the florecent lights and power strip on the wall … I just over powered the lights in the room with my lights so you aren’t seeing any of those in the final shot. My main light which was a light shot thru an umbrella was set up above her and to my right but as close as I could get it to her about maybe 3 feet away, because I wanted that light to be as soft as possible. I used the regular green wall as a backdrop. We ended up with a dramatic image! Dig it!

Aspen Restaurant Photo shoot

Mission impossible photo style.

I went down to Connecticuit recently to Aspen Restaurant. You can see their website here I was asked originally to photograph some food for new marketing materials they will be putting out soon. But when I arrived after almost a 2 hour drive the Manager asked me to photograph himself and the head chef as well. Ok no problem but the restaurant is open so we can’t photograph in the dining room. They do have a spot down stairs that is empty but guests will be arriving in 30 minn, and it is SUPER dark down there… So I went to work… First I composed the shot in my head. Set up a tripod for my camera and put it in place took a test shot to make the exposure right for the ambient light. As you can see it was DARK

Then I set up two lights one off to my right up about 10 feet in the air and about 10 feet from the subjects. And another way back off from them to my left about 15 feet back. To avoid lens flare I put a snoot on the light made out of an cardboard box I found in their kitchen. If you look on the left of the Chef’s Face you can see that second light.  I had them step into the frame and took the portrait, both of them were great and we got a wonderful portrait. Then I quickly set all the lights down and got out just in the nick of time! I think we ended up with a Great photo!

They by the way have AMAZING food. One of the perks of photographing for them was a meal at the end. I was left with one word, WOW!!!

Behind a Portrait Session

Here is a recent portrait I did. I am very happy with what we got! Yes that swan was really there… Here is how we got the photo. Linda and her son were were near the edge of the water. The boy was sitting on a stool Mom standing behind him. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon on this mid April very cloudy day. The sun was coming from up high and behind them, but very diffused because of the heavy cloud cover. I had a light set about 6 feet away from them about 6 feet in the air off to their left and just a bit in front of them. The light was going through an umbrella. See the diagram I made. Sorry about the terrible drawing…

Behind the curtain of a portrait session

For those of you who are interested in what goes into a portrait…

We showed up at about 5:15 pm so the sun was getting lower in the sky on this April evening. I put Brianna with the Sun  behind her and off to my left a bit. See her shadow in the 1st photo. All these shots are taken at ISO 320 this is because I wasn’t paying attention close enough and forgot to change it back from the last shoot I did where I needed a higher ISO… Lucky for me the Nikon D2x doesn’t get grainy at this setting! 1st shot was taken just to get a read on the light and check out the exposure I wanted for the background for the real techies out there it was 250th shutter and F-7  the lens was my 70-200 VR zoom taken at 70mm the final shot was taken with the zoom set to 105 mm and I was standing up on a ladder

Then I added a light from directly to the right of the model. A beauty dish set about 10 feet away from her up about 8 feet in the air pointed down at her. Powered by a battery pack as we were out in a field…

This is the end result! I was very happy with the portrait! I love how the man made light source takes on a look of the sun and the light behind her head looks like a fake light but the opposite is actually true… There you have it a peek behind the curtain!

%d bloggers like this: