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Thread: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

  1. #1
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Hello,
    I was taking some photos today experimenting with outdoor flash and using CTO gels to adjust sky colors.
    So I took some photos with my kids in the back yard.
    Everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words, so I want tell this story with pictures!
    But I also want this story to be interactive, so I am posting these as I edit them, and hopefully with some encouragement from others

    This is the first photo I took. 1/2 CTO, no adjustments other than sizing and sharpening for the interweb...
    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Then I took this photo - shown after WB adjustment.
    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits
    Last edited by speedneeder; 31st December 2011 at 12:56 AM.

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Hello, Brian. I bought a set of WB cards a few months ago, and thought at the time that they DID make a difference. Then I forgot about them. This shot makes me think they are really worth while. You have tolerant kids....

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    The goal was to make a dramatic blue in the sky, but I didn't quite achieve that, so I tried again with a full CTO gel (background -1EV).

    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Then after WB adjustment...
    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    So I can see that the color balance between my flash on the left and the sun on my right is not right, so probably a 3/4 CTO would be best for color balance, but the clouds are thinning quickly, and I do want clouds!

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by jonjdoe View Post
    Hello, Brian. I bought a set of WB cards a few months ago, and thought at the time that they DID make a difference. Then I forgot about them. This shot makes me think they are really worth while. You have tolerant kids....
    They are a good tool John. But as I went on shooting and processing, I started to ditch the auto WB adjusment and just went to color temperature adjustments. This seemed to give a better color to my eye. Perhaps I just didn't use the WB color often enough? The sun was getting lower on the horizon, and I'm sure the color was changing by the minute.

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Then my daughter's personality started to shine, but as I adjusted color balance, it just wasn't right, but the photo wasn't bad

    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    So I decided to try and bring in some more sun. This one I like.
    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    And this one the shadows aren't quite perfect, but I LOVE THIS ONE!
    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits
    Last edited by speedneeder; 31st December 2011 at 03:06 AM.

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    I like those last ones of your daughter - the poses are great - especially the last two. Did you do any other post processing then what you mentioned?

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Hi Malcolm, I only did basic global adjustments to exposure, color, contrast (curves), and sharpness.
    There are no location specific/spot adjustments.

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Hope you don't mind but I downloaded them to just have a play as I liked what you were trying to do with them. I got more blues out of the sky and managed to brighter her up a bit using gradient adjustments. Then I had a look in a mocha type black and white and they look pretty good to me so that might be something to have a look at. A bit off topic I know but I got inspired

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldcoastgolfer View Post
    Hope you don't mind but I downloaded them to just have a play as I liked what you were trying to do with them. I got more blues out of the sky and managed to brighter her up a bit using gradient adjustments. Then I had a look in a mocha type black and white and they look pretty good to me so that might be something to have a look at. A bit off topic I know but I got inspired
    Very cool!

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    My daughter is trying to do something out of karate kid here... her expression isn't great, but i like it
    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    And this last one, that I love because it includes my son also.
    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Hi Brian,

    Practice is a little harder than the theory isn't it? All good learning stuff though - and great to see you giving it a go - you'll be learning truckloads.

    Just keep in mind that exposure plays a BIG part in sky saturation; in these you're still a bit too far on the high side to really saturate it (with a bit of flare thrown in for good measure) (but look at the difference in the sky between the left and right portions of sky - the closer it gets to the sun, the more it washes out). I think the "trick" in moving "to the next level" for any photographer is to move past just evaluating what they see, and into an area where they're thinking more along the lines of "how can I manipulate the camera into geting a great shot here" - (even if that shot looks way different to how it appears to the naked eye).

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Brian,

    Practice is a little harder than the theory isn't it? All good learning stuff though - and great to see you giving it a go - you'll be learning truckloads.

    Just keep in mind that exposure plays a BIG part in sky saturation; in these you're still a bit too far on the high side to really saturate it (with a bit of flare thrown in for good measure) (but look at the difference in the sky between the left and right portions of sky - the closer it gets to the sun, the more it washes out). I think the "trick" in moving "to the next level" for any photographer is to move past just evaluating what they see, and into an area where they're thinking more along the lines of "how can I manipulate the camera into geting a great shot here" - (even if that shot looks way different to how it appears to the naked eye).
    Colin, you are absolutely correct about exposure. It was changing by the minute! The foreground wasn't such an issue as I had the TTL stuff going on with a 580ex II (I was at +1 FEV by the end of the shoot), but the background stuff was changing faster than I was able to keep up! This is one thing I will pay more attention to next time I am in this situation, BEFORE I pay more attention to color/white balance. At the time the clouds were leaving quickly, and I REALLY wanted clouds in these photos. Also, the sun was moving quickly, and I found this to be a very challenging situation to make photos. In the future I will have a better understading of what to look for while I am doing it. This 'light on a stick' concept is something I have been wanting to try for a while
    Thanks to you and others for showing me the 'light', I just hope I can master in one day
    All while learning, to me the photo where my daughter is looking down is wonderful, and this will forever be a 'keeper' for me

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    The truth is Brian, that if it was easy, then everyone would be able to do it - the reality is - it's darn hard work. I've spent many hours in the cockpits of light twin engine planes doing engine failure drills on takeoff - climb out - downwind - approach - it's incredibly demanding - and I honestly think that the sheer thinking that goes into shutterspeed - ISO - aperture - DoF - flash zone - ambient zone - composition - subject control - camera shake - subject movement etc when the light is changing rapidly isn't any less than emergency drills in the aircraft. It really does take a LOT of thinking on your feet.

    But get it right and the world is your oyster (close enough anyway!)

    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Haha, touche Colin!
    I am glad to be trying new things, and I am honestly pretty happy with the results for a first attempt. More attempts will follow

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Colin,
    I was thinking since your post about exposure that I need to have another look at some of these. I reprocessed this one, while I do like it better, there are some issues with grain/exposure on my daughter, though this is because I didn't get the exposure right in the first place! I think I know better how to do this next time.

    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Colin,
    I was thinking since your post about exposure that I need to have another look at some of these. I reprocessed this one, while I do like it better, there are some issues with grain/exposure on my daughter, though this is because I didn't get the exposure right in the first place! I think I know better how to do this next time.

    A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits
    That's similar to where I got to with my edit. Did you have a look at it in sepia or black and white?

  17. #17
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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Nope.

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    thanks for sharing, Brian, there's a lot to learn for me here, and something to try to emulate

    by the way, could have been a CPL of any help to saturate the sky in your attempt?
    cheers
    Nicola

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Cpl?

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    Re: A Story About CTO Gels for Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Cpl?
    sorry... tying error
    I mean Circular Polarizer Filter...

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