This weekend two of my friends from work, web developers Kristy and Anna, came over to be my test subjects while I played with my camera. They were very willing, which was much appreciated, and the keyboards I had asked them to bring from work were great in helping set a goofy tone and getting them loosened up. Obviously I still have a long way to go to being any kind of serious portrait photographer, but these came out well in line with my hopes for their visit.
I shot these in my living room against a blank wall. All of these were shot with a single flash through a diffusing umbrella as the main light source. I also had a little natural light coming from one side, and a bit of yellowish lamp from the other, although that didn’t do much to fill in the shadows, I probably could have bumped that up some. An assistant to hold a reflector on that side would have been perfect – too bad I have neither. I was underexposing it to keep the background and face from getting blown out, but I may have gone too far. Most of the fill light is Photoshop magic.
Here is one of Kristy’s before/afters:
As you can see, it didn’t need a whole lot of editing, but what I did do helps it look more intentional and less like us goofing around in my living room. In post-processing, I cropped it in a bit to make her placement in the frame a bit more dramatic and purposeful, and fixed the color temperature a bit to bring down the cool light tint from the flash. I added fill light to lessen the shadows and brought up the exposure, erased the dust specks in the lens and nail holes in the wall, and brushed in some local adjustments to her hair (sharpening and lightening), and evened out the shadows and highlights some in her face. At the end I fiddled with the saturation to bring down her bright red hoodie so that it’s more consistent with the brown of her hair, and adjusted the lighting on the wall (vignetting around the edges of the photo) to make the photo more unified in terms of color and background light. Adding a little vignette to darken the edges of the image keeps your eye subconsciously focused on the subject, since it is attracted to the slightly brighter area.
Through the magic of the Camera RAW editor, all of these changes are non-destructive. That means that unlike painting over original pixels in the photo, the software keeps a separate list of changes (+.30 exposure, -13 saturation, etc) which can then be easily edited at any time. No pixels were harmed in the making of these images!
With all of these photos I tried to pay attention to the catch lights (those bright dots from the flash) in their eyes, which are what makes their eyes sparkle and look full of life by comparison to less purposeful photos I’ve taken of people.
Since she grew up as the focus of her dad’s camera, Kristy was pretty at ease with me taking pictures of her, but Anna took a little longer to settle in with the idea. She really enjoyed using her keyboard as a gun and imagining herself a soldier on the battlefield.
Anna playing guitar, or maybe sitar.
In closing, Anna and I just enjoyed her goofy look in this one. :) Sometimes you get pretty funny pictures, especially when you’re balancing your keyboard on your fingers like Kristy was doing.
Afterwards, Anna sent me Monday’s Oatmeal comic on the subject of keyboards.