Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 22

Thread: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    I have a few requests (via PM, emails and messenger) from fellow members asking if I could document a “The Making Of…” on Zia’s photo session and share it with everybody here so that the general standards in photography can be improved amongst members and the public.

    First of all, I thank you for your continuous support and encouragement for my images but I am no photographer, not to mention that I am good enough to give any valuable and practical advice to people. I have a day job. Photography is just a hobby I love (I think I can call it a passion now…).

    But nonetheless, I shall write down some pointers on how I achieve the end result of what you see in this thread:

    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=496284

    I chose to put this thread over here and not any other section is because this thread is specifically detailing on the link you see above. Information stated, methods used and concepts adopted here in this thread are not generic applicable to all situations but specifically outlining the steps for which I took to accomplish my end results.

    I shall break into small sections for easy reading.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  2. #2
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Contents:

    1. Develop an intention
    2. Concepts & Themes
    3. Research & Information Gathering
    4. Choosing your model
    5. Plan your execution
    6. Before the shoot
    7. During the shoot
    8. After the shoot
    9. Post Production
    10. Conclusion
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  3. #3
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Develop an intention

    This is always my first step to a shoot. There must be an intention to shoot. This is because with this intention I will develop concentration and determination in doing it well. There are times that I just reach out for my camera and started snapping around leisurely. When I review my images, I find that none of them works and ended up deleting almost every one of them.

    Also because if I do not have a serious intention to shoot, I tend to take things leisurely and usually get bored after a few shots. With no serious intentions to shoot, I cannot get any inspiration to drive me ahead. I cannot think well. Things don’t connect in relation with each other at all. The whole session will seem boring and uninspirational.

    Before deciding to do a shoot, I will need to know for myself how much time, money and effort I have to allocate for it. In any kind of shoot, there is always a budget, time and resources to manage (for those project managers, you will know what I am talking about… ). If I find myself tight on any area, I let go the idea and wait for a better time. I will not push myself through when I know I am limited on budget, time and resources. The end result will not be as good as expected should any of these major concerns is limited. But when I am sure I can manage my budget, time and resources well, I will lay down “Yes, I want to shoot!”
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  4. #4
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Concepts & Themes

    Being determined to shoot actually isn’t quite enough to complete this so-called “project” though. I must decide what I want to shoot. I cannot just pick up my camera, get some model to pose and start triggering without anything in mind. I need to have a direction to focus on. For those who think that they may be able to get some good images by mass firing during a session, good luck for I know you will mostly end up deleting most of your images (if you did not gauge yourself on at least a reasonable standard then you’ll probably like what you get, just don’t complain when your images are viewed side by side with others).

    I have many ideas in my head so as I run through them slowly I also take into consideration on the possibility of actualizing those ideas within my budget, time and resources. I love shooting indoors so I based this as my direction and narrow down my selection of ideas. I have always been fascinated by those duo and multi-tone cross processing colors I saw on magazines and posters along shopping malls and boutiques so I definitely would like to try imitate that.

    I am also fond of high contrast images so definitely I will want to try some of those in a session if possible. I also want to continue and maintain my photographic lighting skills so a little theme involving that should not be absent too. If time allows, I also would like to do something much grander than what I had done before and the idea of Cinderella popped into my mind (don’t ask me how it popped in). Of course, it is beyond my ability to produce a theme close to the Cinderella story but I can borrow some ideas from it.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  5. #5
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Research & Information Gathering

    Okay, now that I have some ideas in mind, it doesn’t mean that I can start engaging a model and jump into it right away! Doing so only means that I will fail terribly even though I have some really good ideas waiting to be unleashed! I would have wasted those ideas if I did not do the next few steps!

    I need to ask myself a few things first:

    1. Location
    2. Time period
    3. Convenience
    4. Distractions

    Location is the most important information I need to know before I attempt on a shoot. I need to know if the place is suitable and matching with my concepts and ideas in mind. Selective location will boost the overall visual impact of my images. It tells most of the message within the image itself. Wrong choice of location will ruin the image entirely even though you may have shot the image perfectly.

    For example, imagine a game of basketball on a tennis court or cowboy show on a pop/rock concert stage… For course, I am exaggerating just to let you see the misalignment between the theme/concept and the choice of location.

    I have asked among my friends, telling them about my ideas to shoot. Many locations were suggested but I chose the old fire station for its historical and back laid architectures that may compliment my themes.

    Having settled on a location, the next thing to know is what time period will have the best light? This I don’t know first hand. I had to make a trip to the location and survey the surroundings. I observe how light enters the building at different times of the day and how spacious it is when the light is at optimum. I choose different location spots at under different times. I checked the stability of the building around the chosen spots. I want to make sure that safety is observed at all times (old building made of low grade concrete exterior and wooden interiors). I also want to find out if the building is abandoned or still occupied by people so that I know how to move around doing my things and not disturbing personal space of others (after all, it is not my place and I don’t own the building).
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  6. #6
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Choosing your model

    The last thing you want to ensure before starting is that you have the correct model engaged. By means of that, you need to get a face that suits your theme. Not just any face because your model will usually be the center of attention to the viewers and if she does not fit the look and theme you are asking for, your images will not work.

    I usually meet up with my prospective model before the shoot. I will observe her carefully while I talk with her on my ideas. I want my prospect to be comfortable with what I want to do and that she feels confident to do what I ask her to do. I also want to know my model’s limits.

    You need to be confident with your model. You also need to know the abilities of your model.

    • Is she beautiful?
    • Can she pose?
    • Is she daring?
    • How is her attitude?
    • Does she know how to act?
    • Is she comfortable with your themes and ideas?
    • Can she blend into your thoughts?
    • Can you communicate with her easily?
    • All in all, can she deliver the things you want?

    I don’t think I need to elaborate on each of them as they are pretty obvious. But know this, there is no single model that will be able to satisfy all these “requirements”. Just mix and match and choose wisely. It will be better if you know the model personally. For me, Zia is my friend and I am aware of what she can and cannot do so naturally she is my choice.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  7. #7
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Plan your execution

    Now that I have almost everything ready, the last thing to do before moving out is to plan your execution. In other words, plan your shots. How to go about doing this? You first need to tell yourself what kind of end result you want from your images and then work towards that.

    You already have all the information at hand:

    1. You know what your themes and concepts are
    2. You know the location
    3. You know how light behaves on the location
    4. You know the conditions of the location
    5. You know who your model is
    6. You know how she looks like
    7. You know what makes her work and what’s not
    8. You know your camera functions and how it behaves in different conditions
    9. You know how well your lens focuses and its characteristics under different lighting situations
    10. You know how to manipulate light with your lighting equipment

    So what is stopping you? à An inappropriate and inadequate execution plan! Managing a shoot “project” without proper planning is a disaster! You will be disoriented. You will not know how to start and how to proceed with the flow and end the session with a bang. You will end up wasting your time, money and effort as well as your model’s time (if you manage to shoot without paying her) (I paid all my models even though they are my friends).

    Proper execution comes with experience and some logical thinking. I cannot tell you in writing how I execute my shoots. You may need to be around with me during my session and observe what I do and how I plan my shots in order to realize this. Because this is the beauty of art and different people executes differently. There is no fix science rule to follow. It all goes with the flow. But an important point that everybody should know is not when to start but WHEN TO STOP and switch over to the next theme. It is very easy to be carried away during a wonderful session but unfortunately time is always not on your side.

    Bear this in mind:
    Are your images going to be presented as an individual standalone image or as a series of connected images with relation of each other?

    All my images shot in this session were individual standalone images that have no relation with each other.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  8. #8
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Before the shoot

    The standard basic preparation checks that you all know so no need to elaborate but still worthwhile to “remind”.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  9. #9
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    During the shoot

    This is where it will show how skillful you are as a photographer. All talks are cheap. This is where you are physically making your images. Whether you know or not, the images will tell.

    From my survey of the location, I have already planned some shots at different spots of the building and some basic poses I wanted Zia to do. While slowly setting the props (on location), I kept my eyes open on the surroundings. What I was observing was not to check if anybody was watching or if Zia was digging her nose or not. What I looked out for was light. Even though I had checked the location previously, there was no telling that there could be a slight change anywhere or if I had missed something previously. Conditions were always changing. There is no 2 similar conditions at any 1 time (no de javu) so every time is a new condition and new situation.

    I kept my mind open while observing during my shots. When I looked through my viewfinder, I not only paid attention to Zia but also onto the things around her. Basic photography fundamentals come into place. In between each pose, I varied her a little and see if it worked. I changed my position and attempted different angles too to see if it worked as well. But all in all, I need to get the base pose there first before I can slowly vary it bit by bit.

    Setting up the lighting was tough. The whole idea of adding flash is to balance the light. This is a simple statement but not many photographers actually understand the meaning. By meaning of balancing, it means the adequate amount of additional lighting introduced into the image so that contrast, colors and exposure are realistically matching with what our eyes perceive as appropriate, taking into consideration of any existing ambient light, without obtaining significant over-exposed areas.

    When performing light balancing, one must decide on which light to balance? There are a few things to play with:

    • Ambient light as main light and flash as fill
    • Flash light as main light and ambient light as fill
    • Crossed light as main light and ambient light as fill
    • Backlit light as main light and front light as fill

    And a whole lot of combination and other lights but I am not going into that topic (its an entirely super long topic). I used 3 flash lights and different positions and varied flash power to light Zia creatively both at dark corners and lighting creativity. When adjusting flash power, I always have Zia as my main subject in mind and I want to distinctively light her so that she absolutely stands out from the image.

    Reflector and mirror was also used. Mirror? Yes, mirror. When there is not enough light and I don’t want to use flash light as my main light, I borrowed a large mirror (lucky me…), get a helper to direct sunlight from outside the window and blast it onto my reflector which was positioned to light Zia up. The mirror reflected 100% of pure sunlight into the room. When it hit my golden reflector, warm soft light bounced from the reflector and onto Zia.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  10. #10
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    After the shoot

    This does not mean after the session completes. This means at the end of each theme. I always review the images with Zia and see which are the images that needed to be retaken and redo the shoot to obtain a better result.

    Do not jump into the next theme immediately. Review the images to see if any of the images needed to be redone and do it while the model is still in the same outfit.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  11. #11
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Post Production

    Post production is as equally important as getting the shots correct in the camera itself. Post production is the process to completely bring out your ideas as an image.

    Before I start shooting the images, I already had in mind what kind of post processing I want in my images and I shoot my pictures and light my subjects towards that direction. Adobe Photoshop is probably the most common photo editing tool used in post production. I use it too.

    Depending on how one sees the importance of post production, I see it equally as important. If I can give rating, I will put it as 50/50.

    I am not going into details as of how I post process my images but I can list down some of the techniques I used in Photoshop:

    • Different variation in using Shadow/Mid-tone/Highlight sliders in Levels
    • Blending Mode Screen
    • Blending Mode Soft Light on individual red/green/channels
    • Blending Mode Multiply on individual red/green/channels
    • Advanced Layer Masking
    • Textured Blending
    • Edge Sharpening
    • Skin tone smoothing
    • Mid-tone contrast
    • Shadows/Highlights
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  12. #12
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Conclusion

    This is probably one of my most satisfying shoot I had done so far. As you can read from my text, I emphasize a lot more on the preparation than the shooting. This is true. When you are well prepared, a good shoot is definitely on your way. It is controlled. Chances of deleting images away are much lesser than those who were not prepared enough.

    I used mainly wide angles on this session. I am very into wide angles nowadays. Love the dynamic distortions it gives. If put into use properly, it can create very stunning visual impact images to the viewers.

    Thank you for reading this mini documentary on how I produced Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  13. #13

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Very details on before, and behind the scene, will definitely help improve our end results, a better quality image.
    Most commercial photographers will consider this info as trade secret. And you share with us whole heartedly.
    Thanks for sharing with us, plenty to learn from u, not only photography skills, but your sincerity and generosity.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Chen View Post
    Very details on before, and behind the scene, will definitely help improve our end results, a better quality image.
    Most commercial photographers will consider this info as trade secret. And you share with us whole heartedly.
    Thanks for sharing with us, plenty to learn from u, not only photography skills, but your sincerity and generosity.
    Thanks for your compliment. Yes, no doubt these are trade secrets, I am willing to share mine for the sole purpose of encouraging creativity in members. I hope with these information, people can start to think more before pressing down the shutter release and be daring to venture out into something out of the box and not always stick to f/11 in front of the white canvas background and left right strobes and nothing else or the same meaningless bikini outfits on the same old location.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  15. #15

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Hi Zeckson, I'm one of the members who PM you to ask for the assistant. I would like to express my sincere thanks to you for sharing such the valuable information & your experience for the portrait shooting. I'm sure that newbie like us as well as CS members will find this info useful.
    Canon EOS 5DMKIII & EOS 6D, LEICA C
    EF50mm F1.2L/ 24-105mm f4L/EF17-40mm F4L

  16. #16
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Quote Originally Posted by lchoong78 View Post
    Hi Zeckson, I'm one of the members who PM you to ask for the assistant. I would like to express my sincere thanks to you for sharing such the valuable information & your experience for the portrait shooting. I'm sure that newbie like us as well as CS members will find this info useful.
    You are welcome. At least my efforts in writing this up were not wasted.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  17. #17
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Thank you Mr Moderator for moving this thread onto the appropriate sub forum.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  18. #18

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    well done

    i need to learn from u
    Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.
    Portfolio | Gallery

  19. #19
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Currently in Singapore
    Posts
    6,238

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Quote Originally Posted by silver.wolf View Post
    well done

    i need to learn from u
    Ha ha ha. Don't joke with me brother. I started out learning from you, Darrel and Gerald 4 years back remember? I still remembered those days where we were shooting studio at around Outram Park. So how can you be learning from me?

    Thanks for dropping by, bro. Long time no see.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  20. #20

    Default Re: Beauty Portraits: Zia @ Old Fire Station (The Making Of...)

    Thanks Zeck with all the information .. you lead by example and this make me worry ... I am far away from you ... I need a lot of catching up to do ... n hope to be @ yr level one day

    Cheerzs brother

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •