Today, I thought I would write about a photo I took a couple of weeks ago and go though, how I took the photo and the main elements of post production.
knew the kind o photo I wanted, right from the beginning. Something with a moody atmosphere, I also wanted to get away from using lots of lights and reflectors (though that didn't quite work out). I chose a black background, which was the first element to creating the atmosphere I wanted. I could have used a white background and then used the light fall off to create a more neutral gray or darker look but I had done that in a previous shoo and it is easier just to change backdrops.
As I have said, I wanted a simple light set up, I planned on using a single diffused light, as my key light and then added a small diffused speedlight behind, to create a slight hair light. I had been using a Octa for some shots I had done earlier in the day but had moved that way facing in a different direction. So I was running 2 light set up.
I then started taking a few photos. After 5 minutes, I realised that I hadn't turned the Octa off and that the light was refecting off the wall/door in front of me, back onto me, creating a small amount of fill light. I turned it off but soon realised the fill light helped slightly, adding a small amount of detail, to the shadow,
I didn't have the lights shooting much beyond half power, most of the time, it really isn't needed when shooting in a studio enviroment. It is always a good Idea to know the power level that you are shooting at, with each flash and give yourself a little leighway with power, so that if you do need more power you can add the power in (it also helps if you are using a portable battery, as it greatly improves battery life).
I went to my standard 85mm lens, used on my D800. The 85mm is one of the most highly regarded lenses for portrait photography. The focal length allows for a much more flattering image of the subject. Features don't feel exagerated, which can happen with a 35mm or 50mm lens. I shot at f/11 because I was shooting with studio lights and I didn't need much depth of field. It also helped when focusing, which can be a pain when shooting a 'selfie'. The studio lights I have won't let me shoot faster than 1/200 of a second, which is slightly slower than the Nikon speedlights I mostly use in the field and is something to take into acount when using strobes.
The photo looked good out of camera. Some people believe that post production is wrong and that a true photographer shoots it all in camera. I flat out say that they are wrong. I am not a photoshop genius (more a photoshop idiot) but I get by and know what I want from an image and there is a big difference between trying to save a bad photo in post and turning a good image into a great image. I always had the idea in my head as to what I wanted and part of the effect I felt had to be done in post.
I did the editing in lightroomI have to admit that I played with a couple of setting slightly but the changes were relitively Minor.
I decided that I wanted to crop the image slightly more, this was a relitively small crop, When shooting a selfie, it is good to give yourself a little room to crop, as you can't see though the view finder, what you are shooting (of course I didn't really take my own advise) and with modern camera's you have plenty of mega pixels, so cropping isn't the issue it was when most cameras had 6mp. In this case the crop allowed me to fill the frame slightly more, which is slightly more pleasing to the eye.
I then added a small amount of clarity. Clarity is one of the big things currently in the world of portrait photo editing. It is considered something to stay clear of when shooting females as it isn't flattering to the female face but when shooting a man, it can add to the atmosphere, highlighting features such as facial line and hair. The important part or using clarity though is to get the amount added right. In this case, I really didn't need to add much (+10) as I really only wanted to highlight slightly the hair.
The last change, which I knew I wanted all along was to desaturate the image, This is the final touch. I didn't want to lose all the colour in the image and by taking away some of the sturation, you can make the photo look quite almost natural but add a little more atmosphere. Because I was changing the saturation, I knew that I didn't have to bring up the clarity more because the saturation would help, difine features.
So really that is how I created the image. Really it is quite simple to create and doesn't take much time. I always take small blessing and the fill light, helped. The good thing was that I realised what was happening, took it away, took a few more image and then put the light back in. Always be flexable when it comes to lighting, as much of the time, lighting won't work perfectly, the way you first set it up.
I managed to create the atmosphere I wanted with the photo, which is important. I knew what I wanted and I set up the lighting to follow that path. One of the things I have learnt to believe, is to set yourself a goal, when shooting. This can be as simple or complicated as you want but is always worth while, even if the shoot doesn't go perfectly because, you will have learnt a lesson and will know more next time.