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March 28, 2015#

when you find yourself with a backdrop asking for more attention than your client

Take back the contrast or embrace it? I have always run run run from busy backdrops when boudoir photographers around the world were purchasing those black and white damask backdrops I was shaking my head with a hell no.  What happens however when you’re on location and you don’t have a choice.  Do you run from it or embrace it. I posted a photo from this shoot and there was an instant splitting of very strong opinions between like and don’t like so I edited the shoot dropping the contrast and embracing it, here is how I did it and I hope it helps you when you find yourself with a backdrop asking for more attention than your client.

Canon 5D iii ISO 640 1/50s 1.8 (for background and hair blur) 50mm 1.2 lens Light Kinoflo thru scrim Late afternoon light

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Out of camera tones are very soft and neutral, obviously throwing yellow.

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Open in PS and up curves for a little more contrast.

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Open in Alienskin Polaroid SX-70 Blend 75% –  one of my top used like it but keep looking

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Color fading – Color Photo Warm Skin at 40% (definitely like the contrast and color pop)

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Stay in fading Kodachrome 40% with dust and scratches removed subdued and more grungy not a beauty look

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and thats what I stayed with Kodachrome 40% with dust and scratches removed up the contrast a little.  Once I find the tone and mood of an image in editing I generally stick with the same tone of all the sequence of images in that one outfit or backdrop.  I like uniformity it looks more professional and you definitely see consistency which is a good thing.

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Out of camera: Some people would be horrified when images came out so flat and neutral but my camera picture style setting is set to neutral with two stops contrast dialed down.  What I get is an even perfectly exposed image that I can do anything with. Before you flip over that statement my work has always had a flatness and softness to it it is my signature look.  So before you start to preach to me about the RULES remember I don’t follow them.

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I have always been drawn to cold editing I like anything that takes the skin tones slightly away from red which is normal.  I have always liked slightly desaturated images so my go too here was Color Films Vintage Kodachrome 35mm faded (Would you believe a film I actually shot on for years in the 90’s)

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Color Fading Color Photo Warm Skin so I also try the opposite because how do you know unless you try this whole fading set is seriously yummy

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I ended up with this Polaroid 600 Brown Highlights then I went to textures and put a texture over it. Dial back the texture over the face with Protect and drop the opacity of the texture for subtlety

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The texture gives the wallpaper a vintage look there is contrast on her and a more faded look on the backdrop

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Pulled away from wall a little more a nice shallow f/1.8 and soft light on the face

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experimented with the cold tones and then the warms

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I actually finished with this a perfect mix of both this was the warmer of the two with command B plus 10 blue and command M curves more contrast

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Out of camera This was my first light test before I bought a reflector close to her obviously sitting on the edge of under exposed more drama on the face but I really liked it the natural shadow around her face this not what I normally do, you know I like to bring up the face light and flat so I wondered if I edited it a little gutsy and dramatic if I could make it work

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Straight to the polaroid filters because they are the drama filters I like the best

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This was in the Vintage range and towards Cyan

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and then I went Textures used protect around the face and cropped a little tighter

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Tessa is building a model folio to try to get model work I enjoyed being a little bit more fashion in my otherwise glam portrait world and it’s always good to try something new.

March 26, 2015#

Payback Friendship with Friendship

Nicole Fitzpatrick has been a personal friend of mine since 2008. For two years Nicole’s beautiful little daughter Mia battled and finally beat Leukemia and her best friend Coz was there the whole way, you may remember me posting about Mia and bone marrow donation. Well last year Coz turned 40 and was diagnosed with MS. For her 40th birthday she asked her friends and family for a wishing well gift. To be Photographed by me. Nicole called and told me and almost a year later these two wonderful Women flew from Melbourne Australia to me in Los Angeles and we had a Photo shoot day.  This shoot was about laughter and celebrating friendship sisterhood and taking every day as it comes.  The words in this little video are their’s my favorite was the last question I asked them “How did today make you feel?” Coz said “feeling beautiful today made me feel like I can conquer anything”

My Mother always said “The real worries in your life, you will never see coming” but no matter what comes at you friendships just make life better. Oh and Champagne.

Coz I wish you love and good health thank you for reminding me to laugh more work a little less and treasure all the people in my life. Don’t stop fighting we Love you.

Here’s some images and a Video & Slideshow

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For Photographers: Remember our monthly challenge to create stories for your clients and show the beauty of what you do for your brand. This was my choice for video of the month.

It’s free to Join the facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/AnimotoPhotoVideoChallenge/ Stay focused stay inspired and build a library and see what others are creating

I made this with Animoto Custom Pro Style Documentary – music is from the Triple Scoop Library that is included with Professional – it’s “So Long As” by Faith Rivera – the instrumental version.

You can download a free trial of Animoto if you buy Pro here is a discount code for this week (code is SUE2015) It offers 20% off Animoto Pro until April 2nd 2015

 

March 23, 2015#

Portrait of a Musician

I was lucky enough to photograph the incredibly talented singer/songwriter Caity Copley. I went into this shoot with the intention of capturing new fabulous PR images -leaning more towards a rock ‘n roll vibe rather then glamour portrait. Something worthy of Rolling Stone, this was a great challenge for me I lean heavily on beauty posing but Caity has such a natural confidence as a performer so we started with beauty type shots and by the time we got into the tophat she was fully her true self. Her music style is Piano/Pop so she still has an element of young and pretty in her brand so I just said bring clothes you would actually perform in. Caity has killer hair but we bulked it out with synthetic braid wefts so cheap and so easy to do I actually recorded it so you could have a little tutorial on how to do it it’s both affordable and has an instant result. She flipped over her hair.

Lighting I used an Elinchrom 59″ deep dish octobox modifier on my Elinchrom 250 strobe and one reflector (white foam core board) as my light source. I prefer softness in my images I Love it enter my amazing ND Filter. I can shoot wide open between1.2 -2.8 get that shallow yummy Depth of Field that I get with natural light, I can’t get enough of it lately. I am also very proud of how my new self painted backdrop performed. Have a look:

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/1.2 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Turn the light away from her towards the reflector and bounce it back turn ND filter dark as I can)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

Canon 5Diii f/2.8 200/s ISO100 50 mm lens with ND filter (Nice and close to the backdrop step back from the light a little)

 

Links to products on Amazon:

Elinchrom’s 59 Inch Deep Inverse Octa This is the modifier Felix convinced me to buy and honestly I love it

Elinchrom’s 250W BRX Multi-Voltage Flash Unit Same with this

Genus 72mm ND Filter (NB don’t just click and buy this one shop around different brands differ in price but more importantly size of the lens dictates size of the filter)

Caity Copley’s music Because she is awesome

 

Find out more about Caity Copley at:

www.facebook.com/caitycopley

 

 

March 17, 2015#

Chalkboard paint and a Gorgeous Woman

 

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I painted this backdrop and it screamed EIGHTIES I screamed back HELL NO. I wasn’t too worried as the drop sheet had cost $20 and the paint about the same so I thought oh well it’s already primed for another coat.  Then I had the idea to use chalkboard paint so I jumped on Amazon and ordered a quart $19.90 I have always loved chalkboard paint because I love anything matt.

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I had a light plum/mauve left over from my first backdrop attempt so I mixed a little in, I did not want Black Black as I already have the velvet backdrop I made. I wanted a Matt grey black like the Vflat I threw in a little water so the paint would go the distance and painted with a roller.

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I put some water in the empty light color and then threw it on top while it was drying and rolled that out so I could get a light texture all over

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I had left over paint so I painted four of my Apple boxes (A quart went a long way on an already painted drop)

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Painted on Sunday ready for my shoot Monday nice and close to the window light coming in from the left Vflat to stop too much light coming in – White Vflat on the right bouncing light back to her

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Shot natural light 640 ISO 80/s Canon 5D iii 35mm lens.  This back drop is every inch what I hoped for

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This gorgeous woman is 60 years old.  She is a mother a writer and an incredible lady I loved meeting and photographing her.

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February 24, 2015#

Alien Skin Strobe demonstration on Gear Day creativeLIVE

They discount code is active until February 28th at midnight Buy anything AlienSkin 35% OFF you will see my go to is Exposure 7 CLICK HERE use code CRE1502

But the demo video will live on here if you want to download a copy for your self CLICK HERE to get more free creativeLIVE gear day videos

59" Deep Dish Octobox Elinchrom on an Elinchrom Strobe Canon 5D mark iii Background: Black Vflat Reflector: White Vflat

59″ Deep Dish Octobox Elinchrom on an Elinchrom Strobe Canon 5D mark iii Background: Black Vflat Reflector: White Vflat

_B0A1235SX70 _B0A1267BW _B0A1267SX70 _B0A1284SX70 _B0A1289SX70 _B0A1289BW _B0A1296SX70 _B0A1313SX70 _B0A1339SX70 _B0A1348SX70 _B0A1351SX70 _B0A1360SX70 _B0A1372SX70 _B0A1373SX70 _B0A1383SX70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 6, 2014#

My first LA moment & Shooting the black tunnel

Just another incredible opportunity I had working with Olay to meet and photograph all of these incredible Women. Her name is Alexis Wolfer she is the Founder and Editor in chief of The Beauty Bean and an author of an amazing book The Recipe for Radiance and I got to photograph her.  Probably my first LA moment. I say that because Bruce Grayson International Makeup Guru and Randi Petersen Celeb stylist were there to give Alexis the star treatment and what an incredible day we had.  Congratulations to Alexis.

Shoot tip this is what I have been doing a lot these days.  Since I started shooting on the Oliphant backdrops. I realized when I shoot polyboards and Vflats theres is a natural vignette but the Oli’s are so much larger and if I want more contrast around the client and image I turn the backdrop straight to the window and put a Black Vflat (foam board) on either side as negative fill.  She doesn’t need a reflector as the light is straight to face.  People asked me am I blocking the light? as yes I am standing between the client and the window but its a large window diffused with frosting and or net curtains and I don’t seem to block much light or cast a shadow at all.  This apartment was set up as a studio for the day I knew there was a ton of natural light so I brought 4 Vflats a backdrop stand for the Oliphant and some chiffon fabric to pin to the wondow to diffuse the light if I have to much (this is a problem I am rarely face with TOO MUCH light) Anyway my point is the light direction diffusion and negative fill give me a very Strobe like look and I really like it.

Canon 5D mark iii  50mm lens – natural light f/2.8; 1/250s 640 ISO

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Alexis on Instagram CLICK HERE For Alexis’s Website Online Magazine The Beauty Bean CLICK HERE For Alexis’s incredible book Recipe for Radiance on Amazon CLICK HERE

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November 5, 2014#

Adding textures and tones

I do everything the hack way as most of you know although I refer to it as the fast way.  After all I had to teach myself photoshop and by the time there was internet accessible education I was long set in my ways.  I posted a pic of a girl with a large hair piece yesterday and everyone asked about it so here is how I apply textures.  Not all images need or look good with a texture added I almost never do it to a standard portrait.  If I am doing something a little more stylized or arty then I definitely do.  Sometimes its good to put a little texture on a really plain background you can keep the texture off the subject.

This was the first beautiful image I found so I will use this it doesn’t really need a texture as such I would just run this through AlienSkin and pick a tone I love but its a good example.  I shot this in the makeup room at the studio in natural light one window.

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This is the texture I used it is a shot of parchment paper. You can go crazy making textures a good tip is have ONE folder called textures I shoot textures all the time when I see them and I can never find them.

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Open the image and the texture in photoshop and I crop them the same size as it’s faster than resizing (Just my opinion theres so many ways to do it) then I drag the texture on top and I use the eraser tool on about 20 percent with a soft brush and feather back around her face and skin.

Try not to leave any texture on the skin it’s noticeably wrong.

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Then in Layers (Because the texture is sitting on top as a layer) I drop back the opacity usually between 20 – 40 % but it depends on how much you want.

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When you are happy save and flatten then I open in AlienSkin to choose a tone and look I want.  If you dont use AlienSkin you can apply any layer or finish or action.  I do this at the end so it tones the image and the texture and it cohesively brings the image together

AlienSkin action Color and Color Fading are my favorites but there are lots to chose from I flick through until I see the image mood pop out.

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I also love the vintage B/Ws but I prefer them with out the borders and scratches

 

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My go to B/W I use for everything is in B/W Vintage Daguerreotype drop the grain 20% I love gutsy B/W always did from film days

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If a texture competes remove it.  If you look more at the texture than the subject remove it if you see texture on the skin brush it back sometimes when you are shooting on boring Vflats or painted plain walls a little texture is just what you need.

November 4, 2014#

Painting a Canvas Backdrop

On Sunday I had a GREAT IDEA to photograph a special Victorian Style shoot with a dress that I have access to for one day. So off I went to the hardware store and bought 2 quarts of paint and a gallon of white.  After all if it all turned bad I would throw the pink into the white mash it up and then make it dirty and cracked that was my fall back.  I chose colors based on a pastel palette that suits the final look I want and basically is different from anything I have in the studio.  I had already purchased canvas painter drop sheets 9×12 feet from amazon.  I bought rollers and sponges and trays and lots of plastic and moved all of my furniture to the four corners of my apartment.  I soon looked like a crime scene and I was ready.  I know lots of people that have tried this and every one of them failed so I wasn’t holding too much expectation. In saying that I had two drop sheets so I bought two sets of paint one pastels and one golds.  All up dropsheets rollers and paint cost $140 so that $70 per backdrop.  This took about 7 solid hours of painting and then there was cleaning up too.  People say Oliphant are expensive but they are the best hand painted backdrop I have ever seen and to be honest If I had done a shoot that day I would have made enough money to buy one so you always have to weigh up the time you are worth and paying an expert to do something.  It was a great experience and I really love the result I’m sure if you are artsy and crafty and want to try it or are on a tight budget or just want to experiment you will love to try and I hope you are pleasantly surprised.

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The backdrop unwrapped like this wrinkled and lined, luckily for the studio I purchased a steamer for clothes so I used this to steam it.  I gaffer taped it to an old V Flat YES because I had this romantic notion that I would paint it upright A: because I have a Puppy and didn’t want her walking on it and B: because I don’t have a lot of space. It took me about 10 minutes to work out that you need to do this flat on the ground. Palm to forehead. It said it was 9×12 foot but when I opened it it was more like 9×11 foot and had a seam.  I cannot complain it cost $19 so I cut a bit off and went with a square 9×9 don’t ask me why it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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Choosing colors is actually quite easy I went to the hardware store and chose white and a light plumy pink and a darker grey plum.  There are so many beautiful tones to chose from I asked the guy for the mattest acrylic I could have and he mixed it up in minutes and I was off.  I didn’t consider what sort of paint I paint my Polyboards with interior acrylic so thats what I chose for this.

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The sponges were cheap and so were the rollers and the plastic ground sheets.  These big sponges are the best when they are wet they create the best textures and they wash really well. I am not a researcher apparently I found out today there are tutorials all over the net on how to do this.  I hate tutorials I am a lets just try this kind of girl and anyway everyone I know failed at this so I was on a wing and a prayer anyway or as my ole pappy used to say Rip Shit or Bust ha

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I started with the lightest color first and rolled it on thick from the center out I did not seal the canvas I just went straight in, the canvas drinks up the paint and soon my lightest quart was gone and I only had done the hot spot in the center

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I thought Oh no I am going to need more paint.  So I persevered and got the darker plum and mixed it with white and started painting the outer edges like a vignette. Getting progressively darker as the I got closer to the out side. I would roll in all directions roughly and then grab a wet sponge and dabb swish rub I felt like an artist and I loved every minute.

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At this point I had slid down on to the floor I was covered in paint and so was the dog.  I was singing loudly and having the best time ever,  like I was creating a master piece. haha

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This is my favorite moment I stood back and thought GOD I AM CLEVER and I sent photos to all my friends and basked in the glory or my genius this was exactly what I envisioned.

THEN I SCREWED it all up!

Everything told me to stop NOW but no no no just a little more and a little more and oops thats getting quite dark in the center now and OH NO it’s flat and totally lost all the pink and I decided to spray some water on it and then it went muddy and my pinks turned to light grey and I saw my moment of genius slip away.

I remember a great quote my Mother used to say in the Art room when I was 18 and learning to retouch photographs with a Paint brush. “Its takes two artists to paint something, one to paint and the other to hit the first artist over the head when they have done enough” (a great quote for retouching as you know when you cross that line to TOO MUCH)

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But then when you screw up is when your greatest lessons are learned and here was mine.  I went back to the center with white and started to rebuild the hot spot that I had completely covered and what I ended up with was perfect and muted and very subtle and I love it.  I lost the pink all together and thats okay next time I will know how to not lose it and what I have will photograph very beautifully.  It is more pink/plum in real life than this photo shows and I really look forward to shooting on it and showing you how it looks. Overall it was such a fun project for a Sunday the New Zealand All Blacks Played the USA Eagles in Chicago so I had rugby on lots of good music and I feel like I have created something that will photograph beautifully I highly recommend you trying it if you’re brave.  The paint washed off the dog eventually and the floor and I am happy.

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