Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Death of Vincenzo

So perhaps I'll say something about this one, since I like how it came out.

I had originally intended it to be a bit more intricate in story, having a grieving woman hunched by the sofa with her head up next to waist and the doctor standing more to the side, but you have to work with what you have.

The lighting for this turned out to be my most controlled yet, I feel. Instead of just blasting the area with light I wanted something more restrained, which meant lots of gobos in various shapes and forms. The light on the left was originally intended to be a softbox, but trying it out the spread was just too much and too soft. I wanted a window-like light, for which I figured a softbox would be ideal, but the light turned out to be way too soft when I tried it out. I realized what I wanted was the look of the sun shining directly in through a small window, so what I did was simply take a Speedlite and put it inside a cardboard box, thereby restricting the light, then taped a cardboard cross-shape at the opening opposite of the flash so it would look a bit like a window.

The light on the right should be easier to figure out as I just stuck a Speedlite into the empty lampshade. I didn't want it to light up too much though, so there too I stuck in a gobo in the shape of a tube to stop the light from the flash hitting the shade itself. At the end of the tube I taped some blank white paper to soften (and weaken, since it was so close to the subject it was already at the lowest power) the light a bit.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Photography and Photoshop

Wherever there is digital photography, there will be Photoshop. The two go hand in hand like horse and carriage, to the extent that "to photoshop" has started being used as a verb meaning image editing and manipulation. "Just photoshop it." In the digital age I've been faced with a problem, one that is still ongoing. When you can change every aspect of an image in post-production, how much should you change?

There are the obvious things for me that I do to every image, basic colour correction. But these quickly expand into a myriad of options. If the subject is in the shade, should I adjust skin tones for shade or the sunlight of the background? Or should I use a separate layer for the subject and mask the rest out, effectively creating two different "images" in one?

Let's take an example. Below is a vacation image of someone who was out on a bit of a cloudy day.
With the basic fixes the image brightens up a bit, but it's still a bit dreary.
Using a rough feathered polygonal lasso selection of the subject, I create a new curves adjustment layer and brighten only the subject.
And since we've gone that far why not make the view a bit more colourful with a bluer sea and sky? And perhaps brighten the whites of her eyes to give a bit more presence, oh, and that little bag under the right eye could use some fixing...

It quickly adds up. So how much is enough? When I first started shooting with a point-and-shoot I was adamantly against any sort of post-processing, thinking that it took away from the purity of the image. Now, however, I am of the mindset that post-processing should be used to maximise the full potential of an image. Whether that is just making it look pretty, or fulfilling an artist's vision.

But then again, how much manipulation can be done before an image loses its credibility? Doing all these edits is to be intentionally misleading. The weather on that vacation was not at all that good, the sea wasn't the wonderfully blue as can be seen in the manipulated version. Yet all of this and more is being done every day by professionals and amateurs alike. That model you see on the cover of a magazine probably doesn't have flawless skin, or even as large breasts and perfect thighs as on the picture. But none of that goes through the mind of the average person, who most likely just sees a beautiful woman.

This is the nature of photography. To show only one narrow frame taken out of a larger context, showing you one thing while the reality of the situation might be completely different. A lie disguised as truth.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

New year's party-shoot

2011 started with a snap and a flash for me as I had brought the gear to a party! Here are some of my favourite pics from the event that I have spruced up a bit...

Lighting was pretty simple, white shoot-through on the right and a flash with some coloured paper taped to it behind.
Really fun to shoot! I should make it a rule only to do photography when I'm drunk.