Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kendall: Sunkissed

Jetlag really kicks in around this time. After all it's 6AM in Los Angeles which would meant that I pretty much pulled an all-nighter.

I was really excited about this set and actually skipped 2 sets to retouch this picture. As an aside this is the first picture that I completely retouched with the Eizo S2402W-H.

The reason for the excitement was that this picture was shot with only ambient light. And if you've been following this blog you know it's a big change for me to go outside the studio and shoot with ambient light.

That's not to say that there wasn't any manipulation of the ambient light. In order to expose Kendall properly, we used a white reflector (white satin backed with silver) from camera right to bridge the exposure gap between the background (including the sun) and Kendall's skin. This meant we had to put the fill card right up against Kendall to give her as much light as possible. And as we know from strobist 101, putting the reflector up close against Kendall also gives us the added benefit of creating a relatively large light source thus providing softer light, which is what I wanted for this shot. Unfortunately, putting the reflector so close to Kendall meant that I was limited in the angles I was able to shoot, particularly to the right.

My other limiting factor was the sun and the backdrop. I used f/2.8 to attempt to blur the background. Well, that was a fail because it wasn't shallow enough at that focal length to completely blur out the background.
And the reason I used 45mm focal length was because I wasn't smart enough to step farther back and use a longer focal length. I needed to capture Kendall's entire body but I forgot that I could have gotten shallower depth-of-field with longer focal lengths at the same aperture. This is why you can identify the tennis court in the background. This really pisses me off. The more I think about it the more I can't forgive myself for missing this detail. Of course, had I really gone with a longer focal length, I would have had trouble with sharpness and focus-recomposing but that's not the point. The point is that I missed this at the time of the shot. Unbelievable.

Edit: Even though telephoto lenses appear to create a much shallower depth of field, this is mainly because they are often used to make the subject appear bigger when one is unable to get closer. If the subject occupies the same fraction of the viewfinder (constant magnification) for both a telephoto and a wide angle lens, the total depth of field is *virtually* constant with focal length! (Source)

But don't forget that the perspective changes with distance so when you stand farther back and use a longer focal length (assuming the subject occupies the same amount of the frame), what you'll get is less background, which can be more appealing depending on your compositional goal. In my case it would have reduced the "clutter" in the back and while the background sharpness would have remained the same it would have felt "cleaner" which is something that I would have liked...

Actually this was not the angle of the backyard that I wanted to use. I would have liked to shoot with the sun directly behind Kendall because that's the angle of the backyard that is probably most flattering. The problem is that you can't shoot directly into the sun. Even in this frame, I was battling the flaring with the sun coming down from upper camera front left.

WIth those things being said, I feel like the frame was acceptable as a starting point for retouching. The flaring makes the frame a little hazy and I had to correct for that by adjusting levels (15/240) and increasing the contrast with a gradient map. Only this time I didn't use a B&W gradient map.

Actually it was kind of dumb-luck the way I applied this gradient map today. I think I had a skin tone selected as the foreground color in my color palette. So when I chose a gradient map adjustment, I was offered a default Foreground-to-Background gradient map using my selected color as the foreground color and white as the background color. The foreground color was a coffee-like color and when I selected Overlay blending, I got this incredible haze removal effect with the final effect being that the image increased in contrast in all the right places. As an added benefit I got a nice warm tone to the image that added to the effect of the shot.

Sometimes you get lucky. Because I need luck to make up for forgetting important details.

I decided to make this image one of my more "colorful" ones so I bumped the vibrance and saturation. I bumped the curves up because it was overall a tad dark.

Lastly, my output resolution sharpening included a simple resize and then spatial frequency separation sharpening with the low frequency layer set to 45%. No gaussian blur prior to resizing because I wanted to try something different and see if it would make a difference. In this image, there were no added artifacts introduced with the light amount of sharpening that I did after the image resize... or at least not to my eyes.

And that's it. :)

Camera: D3/24-70mm f/2.8G @45mm, 1/3200th, f/2.8, ISO200

Strobist: White fill card from camera right

Model: Kendall B

Makeup: Kelli Zehnder

Wardrobe: Kendall/Michelle Green


  1. outstanding!

    love the sharpness, and the softness! composition.

    everything about this shot works!

  2. I really am blown away by the image -- the incredible colors, the perfect sun flare and the great use of angles on Kendall. You need to get outside more often. ;-)

    My only possible suggestion is to PS out the two straggler leg straps -- one below the right leg and its corresponding shadow and one above the left leg against the pool. I actually did not notice these until I did one final "look over the photo centimeter by centimeter." Thoughts?

    Overall, one of my favorites of yours and definitely one of my all-time favorite captures by anyone. Wow!