Shooting it: Half the Hour Glass


My first post here will be about what I think is currently my best work of art, “Half the Hourglass.” I will go over my difficulties, and inspiration, and motivation, and setup, and post process.

Motivation:

I attended the “Art Erotica” party this year, hosted by the Octopus Club, and was amazed at everything that was happening there! The main idea of this party is to raise money for AIDS awareness. They do this by becoming a venue for a giant silent auction, where they sell works of nude / erotic art! All the proceeds generated by the silent auction go into a charity donation! I decided I would like to donate a few pieces of art myself next year, and help the cause!

Here’s a link to the group that hosts the party every year!

http://www.octopusclub.org

Inspiration:

I actually had the idea in my head a few months before my motivation came along, and it’s from an Infinity ad campaign! Here’s a link to the video that inspired me for this shot.


Here’s a link to the video in case the player didn’t work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1kbzpYRogg

The contour lines of the roof, and the door is what led me to my idea. I don’t know how I went from a car commercial, to a nude girl, but viola!

Process:

Before this shoot I had no experience shooting a nude model before, and it was very difficult to find a model willing to ‘donate’ her body for this cause. I was looking for a model for several months prior to the shoot, so this was a major hold up as well. After I found a willing model, and a place all was set!

I used a single strobe paired with a soft box for this shot, straight overhead of the model, and maybe a few feet back. The model was to be laying in front of a window for the shoot, so we had to block out as much light as possible. I took two sheets to block out the sun, and dropped the ISO as low as it could go, and bumped up my shutter speed to 1/200 to keep it dark. At first when I started shooting, I had the model lay on her side to get a profile shot, just like in the Infinity commercial. This proved very difficult, and I think a long rectangular softbox would have proven much more useful, but also wouldn’t have given me the image I ended up with. In this image, there is a “hot spot” near her waist, and it kinda fades off as you near the edges of the photo. It took me forever (about 2.5 hours of shooting) to get this image we see here, and it is the very last, or second to last one in the series. Here are a few shots of what I was experimenting with…


After many attempts I got this image!

Of course there are many things wrong with this image straight from the camera. I had to adjust the contrast, sharpening, erase some distracting objects, and even crop it a little to adjust the placement of everything. I even played around with black and white versions as well!

At first, I didn’t want the sheet in the photo at all, and I even started out with a black sheet. However, there was light spilling onto the sheets behind her, and I could not stop it from happening, so I decided to use the red sheets to be more aesthetically pleasing. I then also wanted the sheets to be perfectly flat, as to not distract from the subject, but her weight created ripples in the sheets, which then act as leading lines, so even if the eye is distracted by the redness of the sheets, the folds in the sheets will still lead the viewer’s eye back to the subject. I also had to end up snooting the softbox with a spare shirt laying about to reduce light.

The final image:

And that’s how I made, “Half the Hourglass.”

Adam D. (Obtuse Photo)

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Обработване на ХДР снимки


И така, вече няколко човека ме помолиха да пусна статията си за HDR обработка на български език, така че ето я! Това е на практика първия текст за фотография, който пиша на български, тъй като досега съм се занимавал с това само извън България! Който желае може да ме добави във Facebook където често качвам различни работи!

Айде стига празни приказки! Първо какво е ХДР и защо се налага понякога да го ползваме? Всеки би го обяснил по различен начин, и аз няма да се впускам в дълги обяснения, но ХДР е съкращение от High Dynamic Range на английски (голям обхват от стойности между светлите и тъмните участъци) и се ползва, когато камерата ни не може да обхване тези стойности в дадена ситуация само с една снимка. Тогава правим няколко (аз обикновено правя 3) снимки с различна експозиция: една недоекспонирана (тъмна), една с оптимална експозиция и една преекспонирана. Това се нарича още брекетинг (AEB, automatic exposure bracketing).  С комбинирането им се извлича най-доброто от трите снимки в една. Това се прави с програми за обработка, и именно на това ще се спра сега, по точно как аз обработвам моите ХДР снимки!

  • Първо… самото снимане! Както вече споменах по-горе аз правя 3 снимки в повечето случаи. Сега ще опиша процеса си за обработка с един пример, снимка от храм в Кобе. Снимките са съответно с експозиции -2, о, и +2. Задължително снимам със статив, защото искам да избегна всякакво движение, а ако не разполагам с такъв слагам фотоапарата неподвижен на подходящо място.
  • Настройки: Винаги снимам на режим М! Също така заключвам фокуса и блендата, защото  не искам трите снимки да са фокусирани на различно място, или да бъдат с различен DOF. В настройките на трите снимки долу можете да видите, че всички настройки са постоянни, с изключение на скоростта, която е различна! Още нещо важно, задължително снимам в RAW!
  • Следва обработката на заснетите снимки! Аз ползвам главно 3 програми за обработка на ХДР снмимките си: Photomatix, Camera RAW и Adobe Photoshop!
  • Та първоначално, снимките минават през Photomatix. В момента има версия 4, но аз все още ползвам 3, тък като получавам по-добри резултати в някои ситуации. Първо отварям 3-те RAW файла, и оставям програмата да ги обработи и да ми даде един файл с който да работя!

  • След като Photomatix-а свърши с обработването, ще ми даде една снимка направена от комбинаципта на трите РОУ файла, които съм задал в началото, и тази снимка първоначално няма да изглежда много добре, не се паникьосвайте! 😉 Това е нормално, на този етап просто приемате каквото ви дава програмата, и натискате Tone Mapping бутона!

  • Сега вече нещата трябва да изглеждат малко по-добре! На този етап вече имате достъп до различни настройки, с каква сила да бъде ХДР ефекта, сатурация, и т.н., но колкото и да се изкушавам да пипна нещо, на този етап аз все още НЕ ПИПАМ! Обикновено оставям Light Smoothing само на най ниската стойност, защото не искам програмата да ми даде супер нереални резултати! Когато съм готов натискам Process и чакам програмата да ми даде финалната версия, която ще излезе от нея!

  • След като отново Photomatix свърши с обработката, получаваме малко по приятна за окото снимка, която в никакъв случай не е крайния вариянт на това което правим! Много хора приключват с ХДР обработката именно тук, но това е само междинен етап!

  • Тук става важно, когато натиснем Save бутона, избираме TIFF 16-bit, и запазваме в този формат. Ако запазим в JPEG и 8 бита ще загубим динамичния обхват на снимката който имаме, затова за по нататъшна обработка искаме да имаме по-голяма гъвкавост!

  • Следващата стъпка: Adobe Camera RAW! След като свършa обработката с Photomatix, аз отивам вече във Фотошоп, или по скоро в Камера РОУ плугин-а, с който довършвам главната част от снимката! Тук настройвам кривите, контраст, баланс на бялото, цветове, highlights & shawows… и един куп неща които не знам как да нарека на български! 😉

  • След като получа резултат с който съм доволен, тогава вече запазвам снимката в джейпег, и отивам към следващият етап на обработка! Обикновено в Камера РОУ бих прекарал няколко минути за една снимка! Също така за всички действия, които съм описал дотук, мога да обобщя че те се отнасят за глобалното, цялостното редактиране на снимката, а следващата финална стъпка, е по-локалко ориентирана!

Така, и най-накрая, последната стъпка, както вече споменах по-горе, тук вече редактирам локално снимката: детайли, които не ми харесват, преекспонирани участъци, мърдащи обекти, които не са най подходящото нещо при ХДР снимки и други!


Това е горе долу моят начин за обработка на ХДР снимки, не мисля че е най-добрия, и че не може да се усъвършенства, просто това е начина по който аз обработвам в момента! Вярвам че всеки има своят си начин за обработка, и бих се радвал да го споделите в коментарите под статията! Ето го и финалният вариянт на тази снимка, на практика тук не съм пипал локално прекалено много, само някои малки детайли!

Temple @ Amagasaki 長遠寺

Надявам се да съм бил полезен, и ако ви е каресала статията можете да видите и журналът ми с информация за доста от снимките, които съм правил тук:

Тук можере да пишете за въпроси на нашия и-мейл, creative.lightbrary@gmail.com или да оставите коментар под статията!

Също така бих се радвал ако се абонирате към фейсбук страницата ми: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, или да следите личната ми страница за ъпдейти: http://ilkoallexandroff.1x.com/

Ilko Allexandroff Photography

Retouching ! Why ?


Before we get to the point first we need to talk about why we need to retouch and enhance the subject of a random photo. You have to know that retouching is quite subjective procedure and it is different for everyone because everybody has a different perception of color and shape. Don’t worry about that! This is the most normal thing ever! So following that direction of thoughts you don’t need to be afraid of you being different than the others. Quite the opposite it could be a blessing and you have to embrace your difference. After some time gaining experience you will form your own style and your own workflow. This is the result that we need here and what we are searching for. Eventually you will bring your expretise to a whole new level being self confident and capable. But……..

Why do we need to retouch and enhance an image ? I thought that photography is all about keeping things natural without any intervention !

Well…..there are many people that would say to you that anyone who use to retouch is just incapable photographer which is actually ridiculous because a horrible photo stays a horrible photo no matter how much time you spent to retouch it although you can really make a difference with the enhancement that you apply.
First thing that you have to know here is that you apply your post processing in order to make an image pop according to your taste (like you don’t know that :)).
The second thing however is someone else’s requirements. Ahaaaaa ! Somebody else want us to retouch 🙂 The imaginary person that we are talking about is probably a potential client. A client needs to sell our product along with his own paying us to make it better and he or she knows that people like to buy shiny, polished and well handled stuff. Which itself makes the retouching a commercial activity and like any other commercial activity it is paid, wanted and appreciated where the market requires this exact service. Now we will come to understand that not only our point of view is important but the client’s one is also important even more important than ours since they pay us. So if you want to match the clients requirements you must be capable of doing so with different tools and different approach. However the young photographers who are just beginning their careers are blamed by the established photographers that they rely too much on photoshop which is true at some point. Ok ! Now..how to respond to that? Should we decrease the level of software intervention or should we stop retouching at all ? Also we know that the “old” established photographers are people with significant experience and knowledge. How do we have to feel about post production and how to apply it in such manner that the photo will still look natural and yet retouched?

My opinion !

As I said before, people are different and may or may not like our form of expression. But you don’t have to torture yourself about that. If we have to work according to the “old ways”  (shoot and leave it as it is) we have some sort of limitation here and this is no good because it may kill you artisticly. Also trying to be different is not easy anymore due to the increasing number of people calling themselves photographers.  So from know on you should know that you should stick to your style and try to make it better and thus the people should see that you’ve put a lot of effort to produce your work and this is not something to joke about or to criticize easily like many people do.

Top mistakes that photographers do when they retouch photos !

Let us get to the technical issues that appear often in front of us.

1. People often use to soften the skin of the subject too much. Skin softening is good for beauty or glamour photography but it doesn’t mean that it appears natural on every photo that you take. If you are shooting mostly portraiture it is good to know that if you set up your light correctly you may not need additional retouch or may apply just minor corrections and this should be enough. I’ve seen a major changes on the subjects facial shape that it doesn’t resembles the original face anymore which is a disaster.

2. Many photographers are spoiling the pictures using too much the liquify tool in photoshop or other software. This is so because if I take picture of you and the I pull in your ears then enlarge your eyes, make your nose tight and pull down the chin a little bit and then I may apply some correction over your forehead,cheek bones, neck and etc. and finally you will appear to be someone else. An enhanced version of yourself could make you feel embarrassed of your present self. Of course some clients may require this type of corrections although they are not so natural and you can apply them.

Final words.

Be yourself , do your stuff and do everything possible to improve it!

There are a lot more stuff here that we can discuss but I”ll leave it to you to ask the questions and give the answers. If you feel that you have some thoughts that about that topic feel free to post a comment below.

 

Oggy Dimitrov

Walking on Clouds ! Light setup and explanation.


Few days ago I’ve started shooting a project using only few words for inspiration. The theme was “Walking on Clouds”. So using that headline I had to create the concept and present it visually. The problem was that I expected a smoke machine and a bag full of white feathers but none of them arrived 😦 So there I was alone with my creativity and didn’t allow anything to discourage me. Usually I hate my plans to be spoiled by someone or something which is making me go for it without half of the props that I need and any assistants. At least the model came charged with a lot of enthusiasm and energy willing to put some effort in the right direction. Well…spending few sad minutes disappointed by the irresponsibility of others I quickly banished the unhappy thoughts and started setting up my light for the upcoming hours of shooting.

1. Setting up the light for the project.

The good thing about doing a personal project is that you don’t have any constrain and you can do literally anything you like. The other good thing is that you have enough time to plan it and actually make it happen.
Lets start with the light. Three YN460 flashes are used here, two 40×50 cm softboxes , left and right from the subjects position and one 91 cm shoothru umbrella a little bit overhead and almost 2 meters away from the subject for fill. The exact configuration is shown on the diagram below.

I did tons of photos with the lady using different outfits in order to create different moods and a mixture of fashion and some sort of artistic expression. Mentioning the word “artistic” for me it means that I have a freedom to put whatever light I want beyond the typical boundaries of fashion lighting etiquette. I could do it with one light, tow lights or more but this time I wanted the light that way trying to create some dramatic look trying not to imitate anyone. Unfortunately this is very hard because the hot water is already invented and I wont show nothing that hasn’t been done already 🙂 I needed darker image with low level of exposure.

2. Dealing with props when there is no props !

As I mentioned before, there was no props because they weren’t delivered :(. I had the model in my home studio already and have her waiting for me to decide how to go forward without any assistance. The next problem that I had was the lack of long enough background so I used the wallpapers on the walls of my studio putting few torn pieces on the floor thus I can remove them easy later in post. Such things can happen more often that you want so be prepared to think for other ways to accomplish your task. When you plan a project try to plan it along with the post production. We accept that you should know what you want as a end result.

3. The post production.

A friend of mine asked me once…..What if we don’t have Photoshop? How we are supposed to accomplish whatever project we have ? I said …..Fortunately you have Gimp ! The answer was that Gimp is a program that have not enough tools for retouch and color correction and etc. Well….:) This is not quite true actually it is not true at all. You must know that almost every software that you use is capable of high end output if you know how to work with it.

To put additional challenging element I used Gimp to do stuff that I usually do with Photoshop. I wanted to show those people that the obstacles exist only in their brains and complaining all the time of not having enough money for software and expensive lights is another way to say that they cant do it because they are used to watch and repeat only and not experimenting at all.

I used some brushes from Obsidiandawn.com

You can apply the same steps in Photoshop as well !

I will post a short video on how this is made soon.

4. The final result !

Expect the other images from the same series soon !

Author: Oggy Dimitrov

Processing HDR Photos


Here is some information about how I make my HDR photos. Basically I have a few steps when I make HDR, here they are:

When we were together! @  マヤカン

1. First of all, I shoot 3 exposures in RAW mode, -2, 0, +2 (might change these sometimes to narrower range, or if I have time might go to 5 or more, but usually I’m doing it with 3). Always in RAW mode, I tried it with JPEGs but it makes difference.

2. Second, when I go to the post process, first I blend the 3 exposures by using Photomatix, I’ve been mainly using the 3 version, but recently they released 4, which is also giving different results, and sometimes quite different from 3. Anyway I’m not using the Photomatix to finalize the photo, but only to blend the RAW files. Although sometimes I’m tempted to play with the sliders in the software I just don’t do it.
After it process the 3 images and give me the HDR image, I save it as a 16bit TIFF file, not in JPEG, and then going to the next step with photoshop!

3. After finishing the upper steps which just prepare the image I’m playing with, I open it in Camera Raw plugin of Photoshop, and there is the main part for my process of HDRs. I have some presets I have saved and used before, but even applying them to the particular image, every photo is different and still needs a bit more tweaks.

4. And to finalize the photo, I open the file I edit it with Camera Raw in Photoshop, and fix it there if there is anything else that needs to be done, or there are small details that need to be deleted or whatever. Basically in the upper steps I’m doing the global adjustments, in this step I concentrate on the local adjustments!

That’s my usual workflow for HDR! I would be happy if you share how you are dealing with HDRs in the comments, or if you leave any comment about it too!

Here are some more images, you can click on each of them to view it on my Flickr account with more information about it!

Temple @ Amagasaki 長遠寺 Seoul, South Korea Kt@Mayakan
Kt@Mayakan / マヤカン Otaru, Hokkaido
And it all starts again... (Sunrise in Kobe) Maya Hotel, 摩耶観光ホテル、マヤカン、廃墟

Feel free to write to our e-mail anytime for questions, creative.lightbrary@gmail.com or also you can leave a comment below and we will make sure to reply!

You can also follow me on my Facebook page: Ilko Allexandroff Photography, or check my homepage where I’m uploading some other articles on other topics: http://ilkoallexandroff.1x.com/

Stay tuned to our website for other articles soon!

Ilko Allexandroff Photography