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Thread: Girl with flower

  1. #1

    Default Beauty portrait with clamshell lighting - Girl with flower



    1. in what area is critique to be sought?

    Composition, general feel of the portrait, lighting, and PP.


    2. what one hopes to achieve with the piece of work?

    To learn to use clamshell lighting, and improve my portraiture skills in general.


    3. under what circumstance is the picture taken? (physical conditions/emotions)

    This was a simple portrait taken with my 450D and 17-55mm f2.8 at 55mm f11.
    Lighting: I wanted to try clamshell lighting. I used a tago-tech umbrella soft box and 430ex2 above and silver reflector below.
    PP: crop, sharpening, removal of blemishes, and curves.

    4. what the critique seeker personally thinks of the picture

    This is my first attempt at clamshell lighting, and one of my early attempts using off-camera lighting. I am pleased with the result of the portrait, especially how the light sculpts my model's facial features, but wish to know how I can improve my composition and lighting. Also, I'm concerned that the picture looks a little too monochrome.
    Last edited by zaren; 27th December 2011 at 08:25 PM.
    Canon 450D | Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM | Canon 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS | 430EXII | Gitzo GT0541, 486RC2

  2. #2
    Member vizuel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girl with flower

    messy hair, eyes look dead with the kind of lighting, why does her neck area look so dirty?

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vizuel
    messy hair, eyes look dead with the kind of lighting, why does her neck area look so dirty?
    Thanks for e comments.

    I'm not sure about her neck area... Perhaps it's shadows or skin pigment?

    Hmm could you suggest ways in which I can make her eyes come alive?
    Canon 450D | Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM | Canon 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS | 430EXII | Gitzo GT0541, 486RC2

  4. #4

    Default Re: Girl with flower

    Quote Originally Posted by vizuel View Post
    messy hair, eyes look dead with the kind of lighting, why does her neck area look so dirty?
    let's cut some slack on TS and be more constructive shall we? It's TS first attempt anyway..

    so WhipLash, do you mind giving us some idea as to the exact set up that you were using? if possible the equipments used and also the settings so that others may have a better idea as to where to help you.

    as for this photo, i agree that the hair can be better positioned or adjusted before a shoot, a clean face and tidy hair makes post processing a lot simpler..to talk about dirty neck i think it is quite ok but will take a lot of advanced post processing for TS to do. Focus on getting the essential composition right first.

    issues:
    1) hair
    2) flat colour / lighting
    3) wrong secondary subject (flower)
    4) catchlights in the eyes

    what can be done:
    1) hair --> adjusted by clipping it or pulling it to the back
    2) flat colour / lighting --> increase the exposure and blacks a lil to add a lil more contrast
    3) away with the flower, it gets more attention than the face which is the intended focus because flower has a stronger colour than the skin ths taking the focus away.
    4) catchlights --> you could try bringing the top umbrella if ur using any, lower a lil.

    these are my 2 cents worth as to how i like to look at portraits, it is inconclusive and other portrait photographers may have other opinions. but my advice are mainly for basic adjustments. dont stop experimenting and sharing! it's the best way to learn!

    cheers and have a blessed new year ahead!
    just a normal shooter
    my flickr page - http://www.flickr.com/photos/34963569@N07/

  5. #5

    Default Re: Girl with flower

    Quote Originally Posted by WhipLash View Post
    Thanks for e comments.

    I'm not sure about her neck area... Perhaps it's shadows or skin pigment?

    Hmm could you suggest ways in which I can make her eyes come alive?
    one way to brighten her eyes and make it come to life is by dodging it. if u are using photoshop, the steps are:

    1) choose dodge icon
    2) set brush to feather
    3) set brush size to just around the size of the pupil
    4) set low hardness, around 14 (midtones / shadow)
    5) dab the pupil until it lightens up a lil

    *note: some would leave the iris black and the only retouch the area around the iris to bring out the different colours of the pupil be it blue, brown or other colours.
    just a normal shooter
    my flickr page - http://www.flickr.com/photos/34963569@N07/

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Girl with flower

    Hi Whiplash, I see you followed Scott Kelby's Light It Shoot It Retouch It, chapter one right down to the prop choice.

    As such I think you are able to do an in-depth self-analysis on what can be improved, in fact much better than someone else who hasn't read the book. I hope you can put your thoughts into words so that the techniques used by Scott can be put up for discussion by others here. If you require I can help to list some differences to help the ball rolling. Cheers~

  7. #7

    Default Re: Girl with flower

    Quote Originally Posted by shutterkhai View Post
    let's cut some slack on TS and be more constructive shall we? It's TS first attempt anyway..

    so WhipLash, do you mind giving us some idea as to the exact set up that you were using? if possible the equipments used and also the settings so that others may have a better idea as to where to help you.

    as for this photo, i agree that the hair can be better positioned or adjusted before a shoot, a clean face and tidy hair makes post processing a lot simpler..to talk about dirty neck i think it is quite ok but will take a lot of advanced post processing for TS to do. Focus on getting the essential composition right first.

    issues:
    1) hair
    2) flat colour / lighting
    3) wrong secondary subject (flower)
    4) catchlights in the eyes

    what can be done:
    1) hair --> adjusted by clipping it or pulling it to the back
    2) flat colour / lighting --> increase the exposure and blacks a lil to add a lil more contrast
    3) away with the flower, it gets more attention than the face which is the intended focus because flower has a stronger colour than the skin ths taking the focus away.
    4) catchlights --> you could try bringing the top umbrella if ur using any, lower a lil.

    these are my 2 cents worth as to how i like to look at portraits, it is inconclusive and other portrait photographers may have other opinions. but my advice are mainly for basic adjustments. dont stop experimenting and sharing! it's the best way to learn!

    cheers and have a blessed new year ahead!

    Thanks for taking the time to post such a long and constructive critique!

    In this portrait, I used a bounce umbrella softbox (Tagotech) with 430ex2 (power set to 8) and a reflector in a clamshell arrangement. The shot was taken with my 450D, 17-55 f/2.8 set to 55mm at f/11.

    The subject in this picture is a friend I roped in to pose for me, and not a professional model. I guess I should have smoothened her hair a little and got her to put on more make up, but I didn't think to do it at that time.

    Do you really think the lighting is flat? To my amateur eyes the lighting sculpts her cheekbones well, but the colour IS a little flat. Could you pls elaborate on why the light is flat to your eyes?

    Agree totally re the catchlights! Since I didn't manage to get it in the photo, I probably should have added it in PP.


    Thanks again, and have a happy new year!
    Canon 450D | Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM | Canon 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS | 430EXII | Gitzo GT0541, 486RC2

  8. #8

    Default Re: Girl with flower

    Quote Originally Posted by shutterkhai View Post
    one way to brighten her eyes and make it come to life is by dodging it. if u are using photoshop, the steps are:

    1) choose dodge icon
    2) set brush to feather
    3) set brush size to just around the size of the pupil
    4) set low hardness, around 14 (midtones / shadow)
    5) dab the pupil until it lightens up a lil

    *note: some would leave the iris black and the only retouch the area around the iris to bring out the different colours of the pupil be it blue, brown or other colours.
    Thanks!!! I will try it out.
    Canon 450D | Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM | Canon 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS | 430EXII | Gitzo GT0541, 486RC2

  9. #9

    Default Re: Girl with flower

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo View Post
    Hi Whiplash, I see you followed Scott Kelby's Light It Shoot It Retouch It, chapter one right down to the prop choice.

    As such I think you are able to do an in-depth self-analysis on what can be improved, in fact much better than someone else who hasn't read the book. I hope you can put your thoughts into words so that the techniques used by Scott can be put up for discussion by others here. If you require I can help to list some differences to help the ball rolling. Cheers~
    ARGH, busted! Yes, I was trying to learn how to use clamshell lighting from that book, and that flower (dandelion?) happened to be cheap at the flower shop! Love the book BTW! Don't think I can post the photo her for comparison though.

    Well, that book didn't really discuss the when to use this lighting, how to pose the model, etc. It's more of a recipe book where it shows the lighting setup and some PP techniques. But let me try to self-analyze my shot. The pose was quite different from that in the book, which changed the lighting angle slightly. Because my model tilted her head to the side, instead of the typical clamshell lighting, the main light was shooting down at a 30-degree angle... which produces more of loop lighting effect?

    I also substituted a reflector for the softbox Kelby used for the lower part of the clamshell. I don't know if that makes a big difference though.

    Lastly, Kelby's shot had more of a high-key effect. I didn't manage to reproduce this in my shot. Also, he managed to incorporate the flower in the shot such that it doesn't steal the attention from the model. As Shutterkhai pointed out, the flower stole the attention from my model.

    Foxtwo, perhaps you could elaborate or mention any other differences you see? (PS: "foxtwo"... hmm, are you a pilot by any chance?)
    Canon 450D | Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS USM | Canon 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS | 430EXII | Gitzo GT0541, 486RC2

  10. #10

    Default Re: Girl with flower

    I never read Kelby's book, but IMHO, by cropping off her hairline it makes her look bald, my first impression is that 'is this a nun?' then I saw the hair at the sides, but then it all feels weird.

    I am ok with cropping people's head really, but you have to make a good judgement on how to do it without introducing optical illusion of something else (in this case botak girl).

    Skin retouching is ok but becareful with strands, there are strands you did not remove properly and its left there suspending in a weird manner (her left cheek).

    I heard David Hobby (Strobist) talking about clamshell lighting some years back but I did not go deep into it. From what I know, its similar to a form of lighting used in glamour/sensuous lighting popular in the 80s/90s, which is basically a modified paramount lighting (Hollywood), by adding another soft source from bottom up to light the neck. You mentioned loop, no no, not should not loop her nose shadow, should butterfly it. Mediacorp photographers used that to light Fann Wong in a very popular advertisment many years ago, I remember examining the catchlights in her eyes and could see a reflector on the posing table. Clothes, hairstyle, and pose of the girl could vary the look. In your case, the neck is in shadows, so there is no underglow effect (if its the clamshell your taking about).

    And her eyes are in shadows, your lights are too high.

    Kelby is a retoucher, if you wanna learn lighting, you should be reading David Hobby or Neil Van.
    WTB Manfrotto RC4 L Bracket

  11. #11

    Default Re: Girl with flower

    Quote Originally Posted by WhipLash View Post
    Thanks for taking the time to post such a long and constructive critique!

    In this portrait, I used a bounce umbrella softbox (Tagotech) with 430ex2 (power set to 8) and a reflector in a clamshell arrangement. The shot was taken with my 450D, 17-55 f/2.8 set to 55mm at f/11.

    The subject in this picture is a friend I roped in to pose for me, and not a professional model. I guess I should have smoothened her hair a little and got her to put on more make up, but I didn't think to do it at that time.

    Do you really think the lighting is flat? To my amateur eyes the lighting sculpts her cheekbones well, but the colour IS a little flat. Could you pls elaborate on why the light is flat to your eyes?

    Agree totally re the catchlights! Since I didn't manage to get it in the photo, I probably should have added it in PP.


    Thanks again, and have a happy new year!
    oops sorry my bad :P yes the colour is flat not really the lighting..one way to create contrast is to have a full headshot with ample background so that she doesnt really look too squeezed into her frame. u did right by taking it at 55mm to reduce barrel distortion so a star for that!

    i guess fox two has described it in a good way on what u must do and take note of the neck shadows. one of the best photographers i look to for headshots would be Peter Hurley although he is more on PR and working with the models. But there's a lot of tips u can get from his photos.

    Keep snapping!
    just a normal shooter
    my flickr page - http://www.flickr.com/photos/34963569@N07/

  12. #12

    Default Re: Girl with flower

    it might actually be better in this case just to focus on the red flower and crop away the model's eyes....

    you will end up with a simpler and stronger image IMO, and leave the viewer to imagine how beautiful the rest of the model's face must be

    e.g.
    you can buy better gear but you can't buy a better eye

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Girl with flower

    Quote Originally Posted by WhipLash View Post
    ARGH, busted! Yes, I was trying to learn how to use clamshell lighting from that book, and that flower (dandelion?) happened to be cheap at the flower shop! Love the book BTW! Don't think I can post the photo her for comparison though.

    Well, that book didn't really discuss the when to use this lighting, how to pose the model, etc. It's more of a recipe book where it shows the lighting setup and some PP techniques. But let me try to self-analyze my shot. The pose was quite different from that in the book, which changed the lighting angle slightly. Because my model tilted her head to the side, instead of the typical clamshell lighting, the main light was shooting down at a 30-degree angle... which produces more of loop lighting effect?

    I also substituted a reflector for the softbox Kelby used for the lower part of the clamshell. I don't know if that makes a big difference though.

    Lastly, Kelby's shot had more of a high-key effect. I didn't manage to reproduce this in my shot. Also, he managed to incorporate the flower in the shot such that it doesn't steal the attention from the model. As Shutterkhai pointed out, the flower stole the attention from my model.

    Foxtwo, perhaps you could elaborate or mention any other differences you see? (PS: "foxtwo"... hmm, are you a pilot by any chance?)

    Kelby does do far more DI than actual lighting instructions, but still goes to show how simple setups work without too much technique experience needed. Anyway, based on some web investigation on clamshell lighting,
    Flickr: Discussing Post your clamshell lighting images here. in Strobist.com
    What is butterfly lighting, and when do I use it? - Photography - Stack Exchange

    Firstly, facial expressions. Most if not all are subtle or non-expressions, meaning the talent does not smile so much as to leave excessive shadow areas. If you allow "bumps" on the face then you need to ensure the shadows are filled in appropriately. As you said when the talent tilted her head you might have missed some light? This is where you need to control art direction and such, look at the contact sheet pg.001 it's actually quite informative on what direction to head in. Composition-wise the flower should be off to the side more, and you really have to make the face the subject and not the prop.

    I don't know how effective your reflector was. This is a common reflector for glamour shots, Portable Lighting Control Systems for Portraits and Beauty Shots. there is a chinese imitation as well. But a second strobe is preferred. Light reflects at 90, hence if you're using a reflector, some adjusting is required whenever your subject and/or light moves. And the bigger the reflector the better.

    By seeing how the clamshell lighting is used, one should tell that the result would not be contrasty because it's frontal lit, plus softbox-fill from bottom for a 2:1 ratio. If using reflector for 4:1 ratio, then make sure you do not create unnecessary shadow areas. The top light here seems too diffused, hence the lack of punchiness. Umbrella softbox means the strobe is facing backwards then bouncing back to the talent => soft diffused lighting. Shoot-through umbrella will be a better choice when you don't have a softbox or beauty dish. The light behind plays a strong role as well, there's how the subject doesn't sink into the background.
    Spend the money to rent a studio with lights if you want to try it further, might as well do a good one instead of trying to make do everytime, it's not that expensive.

    The examples shown in the flickr group shows an important point, how valuable DI is. The good shots never say how much DI was used, as opposed to Alfredk who shows how erm, bland a direct output can be. If the setup is not "good" enough, DI might have to fill in the rest.


    No.. not a pilot unfortunately.. else can sustain this costly addiction. Just someone who likes the F-16 a lot.
    Last edited by foxtwo; 28th December 2011 at 11:12 PM.

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