Friday, July 31, 2009

Mladenka: My Blue Muse

The thought did cross my mind that some of you might be tired of seeing pictures of Mladenka... then I realized that was crazy. No one could ever possibly be tired of seeing pictures of Mladenka. I posted this picture up on my Facebook Wall and mused, "Seriously, sometimes I wonder what I'd do if I were this good looking..."

In any event, this picture is actually a close relative of
Nobody's Perfect Right? The only difference is that we removed the red gel and changed the white balance a tad for a cooler/bluer effect. This is one of the tricks in my bag that I use somewhat regularly. I discovered this trick during a regular shoot where the gel on the background flash fell off and suddenly there was this cool blue on all my pictures. At first I couldn't figure out why this was happening (and during the shoot didn't want to look like I was clueless to what was going on) so I kept shooting with the blue tint/hue. Later on, I realized that with this particular body-lens combination (D3 with 85mm f/1.4) and flash-background combination (bare flash on "black" background), the D3's auto-white-balance was thrown off and corrected at 3500K. This provided the blue tint that gives the picture(s) this blue hue.

So that explains the blue! In post-processing I bring out the blue with saturation and what not which is why there's a slight tint of blue in the white's of Mladenka's eyes. Fortunately it's not obvious enough to be obnoxious although there was one time that I purposely max saturated the blue tones to give the
model blue eyes. Usually I use this trick to create a "cool feel" to the picture and in this particular look, Mladenka delivers the perfect look. The skin is actually resaturated to bring back the orange/yellow tones that were lost with the white balance adjustment. Sometimes I'll do this and sometimes I won't it just depends on what the photo calls for.

Again this picture as with most of my recent additions have had a huge focus on highlights and shadows and creating that traditional glamour look. It's basically really training for my brain to understand how light is "supposed" to reflect off of the model's face. Putting in highlights where they're "supposed to be" and putting in shadows where they're "supposed to be". For a discussion of "supposed to be" read up on the previous few posts.

In retrospect, the dodging and burning of highlights and shadows during retouching still frustrates me. It frustrates me because I'm not 100% sure where they're supposed to be. If I just bring out what I see, then it looks choppy and gritty. Only by having a vision of where these highlights/shadows are supposed to be, can I create the smooth glamoureque pictures that I want. Because sometimes highlights and shadows are by-products of lighting and actually in the "wrong" places. When they're in the wrong places they are uncomfortable to look at. Thus retouching with the vision of knowing where they ought to be is the key.

Strobist info: Main light is an AB800 in a 22" beauty dish with 20 degree gridspot coming from upper camera left. 2 AB800's as kickers/rim lights left and right about shoulder high with barndoors. 1 SB-800 hanging overhead in a Lumiquest SB-III (camera upper front between Mladenka and the background). Lastly an SB-800 between the background and Mladenka, on a stand shooting directly into a black background. Pretty much my typical bread and butter setup :) The blue is from white balance settings. Triggered with Gadget Infinity (Cactus) V4 with a 98% success rate.

Camera info: Nikon D3, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4, 1/160th, ISO200, f/10

Processing info: PS CS3 Lr2.0

Model/Makeup: Mladenka Grgic

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