Thursday, January 28, 2016

52 Week Challenge – Week 4: Portrait - Headshot

This week’s photo challenge was a portrait of someone else, specifically a head shot.  I lucked out on this challenge because I actually had a cosplay photo shoot already set up due to the snow storm here in DC. Yes, I specifically scheduled a photo shoot because we were going to have a snowstorm.  The photo shoot was with Life of Cosplay doing Anna from Frozen, thus the snow was fitting.  This shoot was a combination of studio and outdoor pictures to take advantage of the snow.

In studio, I shot with a gray backdrop, and two 430EX II speed lights of which one was bounced off an umbrella to light the whole area and the other was gridded to provide highlight.  The ratio of flashes was 3 to 1 respectively. I used my standard 18-200mm lens at ISO 400, an aperture of F4.5, with shutter speed of 1/200s. For this particular photo was taken at a 40mm focal length.   I then edited the photo in Lightroom and Photoshop as follow.  I balanced the color, making it a little warmer then adjusted the highlights. I then cropped the image and added some lens vignetting.  I then took the photo into Photoshop where I overlaid a different background to give it an old masters look and erased the parts of the overlay that covered the models features.  I then flattened the image to finalize it.

Original Image
Finalized Image
The second photo was taken outside during sunset (golden hour).  This image was shot using the same camera settings as the studio shot, however it used a single on camera flash instead of external flashes.  The image looked good straight out of camera, however I tweaked it a bit to enhance the golden hour  lighting and make the model pop out of the photo a bit more.  Therefore, when I color balanced the image in Lightroom I added a bit more warmth to the image, and then added some light lens vinetting at the edges after cropping the image.

Original Image

Finalized Image
Overall, I am happy with how several of the pictures from this shoot came out. (You can see all the images here.) However, I would change a few items. One I would have used a smaller aperture, since my preferred lens is sharpest around F8, at F3.5 and F4.5 the images are not as sharp as I would like.  Then outside I had my husband hold a reflector; however, I also should have brought a flash and a light stand. This would have made the images pop a bit more and would have worked better for some of the climbing snow shots, since I was rapidly losing daylight.  However, I will admit I was not thinking, because earlier in the day, the reflection off the snow was blinding, but by late afternoon when I was shooting, it was not as bright.

I also have to give a thank you to Life of Cosplay for coming out the day after the blizzard to shoot in the snow with me. She was fun to work with and was a trooper in the snow, which was a bit over two feet in spots. (I was wearing a full snowsuit compared to her Anna costume.) I also liked how she stopped and posed for pictures with the little kids who were out playing in the snow, they loved Anna from Frozen.  Finally, I would like to say she completely embodied the character, through her actions, expressions, and overall costume.  I look forward to working with her again.

Bonus Material:
I am providing information on a bonus shot, because I like how the image turned out.  We had very large snow piles from the plows (actually the county uses backhoes to pile up the snow) which looked like mini mountains. Therefore, I had my model act as if she was climbing a mountain per the scene in the movie. Now the shot was originally taken with the camera parallel to the ground, but once you rotate the image it looks like she is hanging from the side of a mountain.  To give the picture a more dramatic feel, I edited it in Photoshop by replacing the traffic lights and building with a distant mountain background.  I then added a layer of snow flurries on top of that. Finally, I adjusted the lighting to balance the scene and give it a warm glow, since it was sunset when I took the base picture.  Overall, this image was a lot of work to produce, I am happy with it. Do I think it could be better, yes; but I need a lot more practice to make it perfect. 

Original Image

Final Image

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