Thursday, January 21, 2010

Irene: Lemonade

It's my picture and I'll call it what I want :)

But it's not random. Read on to find out why it's called "Lemonade"...

This is the second picture that I've processed with the CG243W. I do find this monitor quite bright and sometimes when I'm dodging and burning, I find slight "burn-in" occurring that prevents me from being able to see a new "spot" when I move my focus across model's (in this case Irene's) skin. I find this odd. I've calibrated it at 90, 80, 75, and 70 cd/m2 so it's technically quite dim. Perhaps the contrast on the image is very high? I dunno, this is unusual and I don't remember this ever happening with my Dell 2405FPW or either of the CG241W. Perhaps the LG H-IPS panel is inherently more contrast-oriented? I'll keep an "eye" on it :)

Can I be perfectly honest with you? There's nothing spectacular about this image photographically. Nothing. Photographically I failed miserably. This was right before I posted,
Crap I'm a bad photographer. Oh yeah, I've been hard on myself. But I've gotta keep this learning curve steep otherwise I'll never catch the greats...

To summarize, Brandy's shoot was much better in comparison (photographically speaking). While I'm being honest here, I simply wasn't on top of my game for Anna and Irene. That's my fault. Shame on me. I introduced too many "moving parts" to the shoot and wound up a little flustered at times and then reverting to stuff I knew would work (but was photographically boring).

So in processing this picture of Irene, I really focused on smoothing out the skin tones in the face. That pretty much took me 2.5 hours.

The other stuff took me combined another hour or 1.5 hours. Which really included trying to adjust the contrast on this image to match the look and feel I wanted. I could have gone with more contrast, but I found that it was destroying the image. It was too punchy and it was detracting from the face. In fact, I had a rendition that had 25% (rough estimate) more contrast that I scrapped just as I was about to post to flickr. It just didn't look right. I settled on a happy medium that is what you see here.

I'm not going to go into the specifics about the layers and what not, except to say that there was one particular gradient map that provided the final effect. What you'll find is a orangish-green to reddish purple shift from left to right of the screen. That's because I used a crazy "yellow, violet, orange, blue" gradient map. This, combined with a B&W conversion (turned down to about 80% opacity) leaves you with some mix of original skin tones with a slight tint of "yellow, violet, orange, blue" on shadows and highlights across the frame. Why oh why did I pick that gradient map? Because I can :) No, in all seriousness it left me with a pretty neat background and a different overall look compared to my existing pictures.

When I look at the original, I kind of think that as a photographer, I should be shot for being lazy and/or being a bad photographer. Fortunately, I'm a half-decent retoucher. *retoucher shakes head at photographer *photographer bows head in shame.

But when the photographer gives you lemons, make lemonade :)

Camera: D3/24-70mm f/2.8G, 1/200th, f/10, ISO200

Strobist: AB800 in 40ยบ gridspot beauty dish camera upper left. AB800 in barndoors camera front right. And oh yeah, the single most interesting photographic element of this frame was that I used a 4'x8' R-Tech insulation foam as a giant fill card. In retrospect maybe I had this thing a little too close and washed out the shadows...

Model/wardrobe: Irene Yay

Makeup: Kelli Zehnder

Hair: Michelle Green


  1. Charles, stop beating yourself up. Your shots coming out of the camera are darn good. Here is a photographer that I like. I recently found a link to his retouching services. I was a little surprised at how poor some of his photos looked out of camera.

  2. Wow, those retouches are good but not spectacular...

    Now I don't feel so bad because on average my retouches were 5 hours (now diminishing).

    Thanks for the link Gregory! :)