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Thread: Skin tone and exposure

  1. #1
    Equilibrium8's Avatar
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    Skin tone and exposure

    Hi
    This is a photo from the first model shoot with my 50D. I'm still trying to get used to some of the features, and some of them have made me realize my understanding of some concepts is hazier than I thought.

    I'd like to get some feedback about the exposure of the skin tone, and flash placement. I used a Whibal on these, so the white balance should be close to perfect.

    For the the setup:
    I exposed the camera for background, and then used the flash to get exposure I wanted.

    For exposure, I was metering on the skin and pushing the exposure as far to the right as I could; which did end up overexposing some of the white on the shirt, but nothing that I found disturbing.

    There was one flash with umbrella about 2 m back at camera left (a bit too high to get catch-lights) and another bare flash at the right behind the model.

    Canon 50D with Canon 17-85mm @41 mm
    1/200 - F5.6 ISO 100


    Skin tone and exposure

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...type=3&theater

    Any input would be appreciated.
    Last edited by Equilibrium8; 19th March 2012 at 11:46 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Skin tone and exposure

    Hi Kenny,

    To be honest, I think the light placement and processing need a little tweaking (not a lot, just a little).

    It's hard for me to be precise because I don't know what the natural lighting was like, and I also couldn't quite visualise the lighting you described giving the results you got, but what I would have done is ...

    - Expose for the background like you did. Some folks say to under-expose it 1 to 1.5 stops to make the subject "pop", but I like to achieve the "pop" using a medium vignette to give the appearance of perfectly targeted lighting ("Pro Tip #1").

    - To get your rim lighting on the gent's right cheek (ie the one to camera left) you need to get the light glancing off at an obtuse angle (think of a snooker table with the cue ball at one end of the table, and about 3 inches out from the edge of the cushion ... if you knock the ball down the length of the table towards the other end in such a way that it glances off the side cushion then that's what we need to do with the lighting. In the studio I'll typically put a medium grid on a strobe and position it to the left / right (or both) of the seamless backdrop (in the same plane) and point it towards the model. You'd normally to this with a fairly hard light for a male subject.

    - If you're doing the above, then you'd probably want to use what's called broad lighting on the subject (meaning that you light the side of the face closest to the camera) so that the shadow side contrasts more against your rim light.

    - In terms of positioning the umbrella, I'd probably have it slightly camera right, but pointing towards the left of the subject a bit. What I like to do is set it up like I would a strong fan so that it blows air past the face, but not into his ear ("Pro Tip #2") ... that's because we want to light the front of the face more than we do the ear.

    - You'd normally want to illuminate the face more than the jeans - so one can either fake it in Photoshop, or put the shoot-through umbrella closer to the flash to get what's called "directional diffused lighting" - then put that part closer towards the face - but probably easier to just fake it.

    - You've ended up with a big white flash behind the subject; I'm assuming that this was a specular reflection? Something we don't want all the same.

    - In terms of post processing, what I do is push the exposure up about a stop (in post-processing), and then bring the brightness (essentially a mid-tone adjustment) down until the skin exposure looks right ... it makes the skin look more contrasty ("Pro Tip #3")

    I've applied the processing mentioned above (+ a vignette) to the image below ...

    Skin tone and exposure

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Equilibrium8's Avatar
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    Re: Skin tone and exposure

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    To be honest, I think the light placement and processing need a little tweaking (not a lot, just a little).

    It's hard for me to be precise because I don't know what the natural lighting was like, and I also couldn't quite visualise the lighting you described giving the results you got, but what I would have done is ...
    Thanks Colin. That helped a lot. To elaborate, the natural lighting was awful... started out as the first sunny day in months and by the time we started shooting it had turned into a typical Taipei light--overcast with air pollution. If it helps, it was roughly the same as this setup, but without the reflector -
    Skin tone and exposure

    - Expose for the background like you did. Some folks say to under-expose it 1 to 1.5 stops to make the subject "pop", but I like to achieve the "pop" using a medium vignette to give the appearance of perfectly targeted lighting ("Pro Tip #1").
    Thanks, I will try apply the vignettes next time.

    - To get your rim lighting on the gent's right cheek (ie the one to camera left) you need to get the light glancing off at an obtuse angle (think of a snooker table with the cue ball at one end of the table, and about 3 inches out from the edge of the cushion ... if you knock the ball down the length of the table towards the other end in such a way that it glances off the side cushion then that's what we need to do with the lighting. In the studio I'll typically put a medium grid on a strobe and position it to the left / right (or both) of the seamless backdrop (in the same plane) and point it towards the model. You'd normally to this with a fairly hard light for a male subject.
    Thanks for the detailed description. The flashes should probably have been further back, too, to get harder light I think, and less specular highlights.


    - In terms of positioning the umbrella, I'd probably have it slightly camera right, but pointing towards the left of the subject a bit. What I like to do is set it up like I would a strong fan so that it blows air past the face, but not into his ear ("Pro Tip #2") ... that's because we want to light the front of the face more than we do the ear.
    Is this also considered "feathered lighting"?

    - You'd normally want to illuminate the face more than the jeans - so one can either fake it in Photoshop, or put the shoot-through umbrella closer to the flash to get what's called "directional diffused lighting" - then put that part closer towards the face - but probably easier to just fake it.
    I will try that this weekend.

    - You've ended up with a big white flash behind the subject; I'm assuming that this was a specular reflection? Something we don't want all the same.
    Thanks... I really should have photoshopped that. I've been doing everything in LR since I got it, but I'm not getting the hang of the clone/heal tool.
    - In terms of post processing, what I do is push the exposure up about a stop (in post-processing), and then bring the brightness (essentially a mid-tone adjustment) down until the skin exposure looks right ... it makes the skin look more contrasty ("Pro Tip #3")
    So, do you judge skin exposure by eye? I been battling with Asian skin tones, and this Malay model was different from fairer skinned models I am almost used to.

    I've applied the processing mentioned above (+ a vignette) to the image below ...

    Hope this helps.
    Thanks, that helps a lot. The skin tone looks far better!

  4. #4

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    Re: Skin tone and exposure

    Quote Originally Posted by Equilibrium8 View Post
    Thanks Colin. That helped a lot. To elaborate, the natural lighting was awful... started out as the first sunny day in months and by the time we started shooting it had turned into a typical Taipei light--overcast with air pollution. If it helps, it was roughly the same as this setup, but without the reflector -
    Ah - thanks for that. I didn't appreciate that the red structures were cylindrical ... that would almost guarantee a specular reflection. The way around it is to use a flag to obstruct the light so that it hits the model, but not the post (put it right next to the flash).

    Thanks for the detailed description. The flashes should probably have been further back, too, to get harder light I think, and less specular highlights.
    A bare flash is pretty much hard light at any distance

    Don't be afraid to try hard key lighting though - you need to get the positioning right, but it can even work on ladies (a traditional "no no").

    Skin tone and exposure



    Is this also considered "feathered lighting"?
    Yes.


    Thanks... I really should have photoshopped that. I've been doing everything in LR since I got it, but I'm not getting the hang of the clone/heal tool.
    LR - Eww - 'orrible program!

    So, do you judge skin exposure by eye? I been battling with Asian skin tones, and this Malay model was different from fairer skinned models I am almost used to.
    Yeah. I do the colour by shooting a custom camera profile and white balance (it's interesting how different lenses produce subtle but noticeable colour variations), but skin exposure is totally by eye. It's something that comes with experience - by far the most common thing I see is washed out skintones ... your first shot is a good example ... open it up in ACR and look at what happens as you lower the brightness or raise the blacks (you'll need to raise the exposure to compensate, but before long you'll be able to eyeball the slight lack of contrast. You'll need a profiled screen too.

    Thanks, that helps a lot. The skin tone looks far better!
    No worries

  5. #5
    Equilibrium8's Avatar
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    Re: Skin tone and exposure

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Ah - thanks for that. I didn't appreciate that the red structures were cylindrical ... that would almost guarantee a specular reflection. The way around it is to use a flag to obstruct the light so that it hits the model, but not the post (put it right next to the flash).
    Yea, I been reading a lot about gobos and such, but trying not to carry more than I am now. Or maybe some of the strap-on fabric ones would do...

    A bare flash is pretty much hard light at any distance

    Don't be afraid to try hard key lighting though - you need to get the positioning right, but it can even work on ladies (a traditional "no no").
    Good, personally I hate using the umbrella. I was much happier working with a small softbox, but went back to the umbrella after thinking I could get better light.

    Yeah. I do the colour by shooting a custom camera profile and white balance (it's interesting how different lenses produce subtle but noticeable colour variations), but skin exposure is totally by eye. It's something that comes with experience - by far the most common thing I see is washed out skintones ... your first shot is a good example ... open it up in ACR and look at what happens as you lower the brightness or raise the blacks (you'll need to raise the exposure to compensate, but before long you'll be able to eyeball the slight lack of contrast. You'll need a profiled screen too.
    I'll experiment with that.
    Last edited by Equilibrium8; 19th March 2012 at 02:23 PM.

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