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Thread: New Home Studio

  1. #1

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    New Home Studio

    Hi all. I am quite new to this site, but I have to say, since rekindling my hobby in Photography, this site has been very helpful indeed. I have read through a lot of the tutorials which I have found brilliant.

    About a month or so ago, I dug out my old Canon EOS 400D (Rebel xti) out and stated to get to use it properly again (in my opinion) rather than just using it as a glorified point and shoot, which is what I have been doing for some time now.

    Anyway, I have been taking some landscape pictures of the local area, including some night photography but just last week, I took delivery of a new 'buget set' of photography strobe lighting, umbrellas and all the other little starter items that came with the set. I am now awaiting delivery of my white backdrop but in the meantime, I ploughed ahead and set up the lighting with a 'borrowed' blue/grey lasolite backdrop.

    The room where I have set up the studio has no natual lighting whatsoever and I have 3 strobes set up.

    Please look over some of my results and any comments, constuctive critism and any suggestions are very welcome indeed.

    This is my 7 year old Son. Luckily, so far, he likes to model for me, but also, he loves to jump around like a mad man.

    1
    New Home Studio

    2
    New Home Studio

    This is my wife,

    3
    New Home Studio

    And my wife and her friend.

    4
    New Home Studio

    That will do for the time being.

    I look forward in receiving your comments. Remember, these were taken during mr first and second days of setting up, which was last week so, dont be too hard on me. lol
    Last edited by Smudger; 23rd January 2013 at 02:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: New Home Studio

    Hi Nige,

    Could you do me a favour please? (I had to root around your other posts to discover your name and we do prefer first names here at CiC)
    Could you Edit your Profile and put your first name in the Real Name field and where you are (roughly) in the Location field? - thanks.

    I hope I don't appear 'too hard', especially as you've only just started with your new kit.
    Bear in mind I'm no portrait expert myself, but I'll try to help ...

    Here's a tip you may find useful;
    get a picture on screen,
    shut your eyes for 5 seconds,
    open them and say (out loud, if it helps) what you see first, second and third; i.e. what your eyes dart to first, then next, and so on.

    Try that on your #1 shot above; answer "Boy", then "White Label", then "Floor sheet" - does that label really form an important part of the image? - I doubt it - so you might consider cloning it out, or even trimming it off, if you can, so it doesn't spoil future shoots. I try to straighten the sheet after he's posed but before you snap. Good, natural pose and crop.

    #2 does look a bit bright on the skin tones for me and the background is similarly bright, have you considered a crop at his waist level, to lose the hand and trousers?

    #3 I am distracted by the folds in the background, top right corner, but quite a nice pose - I initially thought you could crop some from the right hand side, but it does look better as it is, despite where she's looking

    #4 Your wife's friend is a little dark compared to the light on your wife, perhaps a largish reflector below the camera could fill a bit more, however, that won't help with my next point - their arms are quite 'prominent', I can't see what focal length you shot at, may be use longer, from a bit further away, if possible. Making them brighter won't help though, perhaps a pose for when the models are in lighter than skin tone clothes - with sleeves?

    I am guessing you haven't done much PP on these, is that the case?
    If you have, it doesn't show.


    The catch-lights (in the eyes) appear quite small, are they from the on-camera flash?
    How many lights/strobes in the kit?

    Hope that helps,

  3. #3

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Hi Dave and thank you for your comments.

    Firstly, I have edited my profile, but I am not sure if I can actually change my user name so that it appears as my real name.

    Your points above are welcomed and appreciated. I am awaiting delivery of a new seamless white backdrop, which can help with the creases, however, I will take your point whilst using what I have and will make better checks (attention to detail) for future shots. It is a good point and in all honesty, I lost count of the amount of times I had already straightened the floor part but what with the little guy moving around and so on......excuses excuses...

    In relation to PP. I am learning as we speak. I have read a lot and so on but with Portrait PP, I have read some Tutorial on this site, since I added those. Back to Front really so, I hope to make the next ones better.

    I was using 3 strobes, the main (Soft box) about 1 foot taller than the subject, to their left (my right) aiming down towards the other girl, a further soft box aiming towards my wife, from her right (my left) with a further strobe at their rear, aiming towards the back wall with a white umbrella attached. Maybe a strange set up, it is all about trying things out.

    If I change from my standard 18-55mm lens to my only other choice; 70 - 300, I can make close up of shoulders and head if I go all the way back to the wall, with the subject 2 feet from the back, so, the room is not massive.

    All other points taken on board and does certainly give me additional things to consider.

    Regards.

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: New Home Studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Smudger View Post
    Firstly, I have edited my profile, but I am not sure if I can actually change my user name so that it appears as my real name.
    Hi Nigel,

    What you've done is all I was after thanks, but if you want to change your log in name as well, that's easy; just drop a PM (Private Message) to "Colin Southern" and he'll oblige.

    Colin will be the best to advise on portraits too, since he shoots a lot of studio stuff professionally these days.
    There are several other members that 'dabble' too (that'll get me in trouble ).

    Quote Originally Posted by Smudger View Post
    If I change from my standard 18-55mm lens to my only other choice; 70 - 300, I can make close up of shoulders and head if I go all the way back to the wall, with the subject 2 feet from the back, so, the room is not massive.
    Yes, it's a shame you have a gap between 55 & 70mm, that could be quite useful area, given your rather cramped studio.
    Is there a garden to move to in summer?

    Cheers,

  5. #5

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Ok, had some more practice now and have read up more on PP.

    I think I am moving in the right direction, however, am happy to receive any additional guidance and advice. Please see a small selection of what I have been up to over the recent days. Any comments are most welcome.

    1.

    New Home Studio

    2. We tried some kind of head spin. Had to remind her to keep looking towards the camera. haha.

    New Home Studio

    3.

    New Home Studio

    4,

    New Home Studio

    5.

    New Home Studio

    Thank you for taking the time to look.

    Regards,

  6. #6
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    Re: New Home Studio

    I think you are moving in the right direction too. The last two B+W shots are quite nice. Nice composition, and positioning on all of the shots. Well done. Numbers 2, and 3 look pinky/peachy to me. Maybe just my monitor? But even the white background is not white, and skin tones are off. Again - might just be my computer.

    Cool!

  7. #7

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Thank you ANdrew for taking your time to look at my pictures and for your feedback.

    WHen I get home from work, I think I will print off 2 and 3 and have a look. I do think you might be right and a very good point picked up. I will be looking during future PP.

    Cheers again.

  8. #8

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Hi Nigel,

    Just a few quick points ...

    1. With portraiture we generally want the eyes to be in the top 1/3 of the image - and generally space above the subjects heads is "wasted space" which only serves to move the eyes lower in the frame ... so don't be afraid to crop it off (in the last set, images 3, 4, and 5 could probably benefit from that.

    2. Either your family has the smoothest skin I've ever seen, or you're blurring it too much in post-production ... it looks slightly un-natural due to the lack of texture.

    3. Your watermark drags the eye away from the natural flow through the image -- BIG distraction in my opinion.

    4. If you're aiming for white backgrounds then you need to light them separately -- you're are pretty uneven. You can dodge them in post-processing, but it can be hard work.

    5. In #4 or the 2nd series your son has a big hotspot on his forehead. In post production I usually push the exposure slider up around a stop and then brig the mid-tones down with the brightness slider. The further you can push the exposure the better, but you'll get to a point where pushing the exposure too far and then trying to compensate with the brightness leaves hotspots like this ... at which point you need to reduce the exposure and compensate with the brightness. Sometimes a small touch of recovery slider can help but it generally produces a dull/flat area if pushed too far so exposure is your primary go-to tool for preventing it.

    Hope this helps.

    New Home Studio

  9. #9

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Hi Colin. Thanks for your review. I take your constuctive critism on board.

    1 - Point about eyes in top third. I think I have been a bit scared of cropping too much. I will keep this in mind for future Portraiture processing and see how I get on.

    2 - Yes, I did use a soft skin brush. Maybe set too high? I actually thought they looked OK but, again, I will take zour advice and consider this in future processing. I think I must have got confused because I thought the soft skin brush was used on women and children.

    3 - Would you just not bother with water marks on this kind of picture?

    4 - Ok, white backdrop. Firstly when I set it up, I was using a light with a white umbrella, just for the background and then I was using the main light and a fill light for the subject. It did come out extreamely overexposed. That said, I didnt really play about with the camera settings but instead, turned the Backdrop light off. Are you suggesting that I do need to go back to having a light just for thebackdrop, but to experiment with other settings to get the correct exposure?

    5 - Seen and noted. Maybe I had him standing too close to the light in the first instance. I will watch out for this and see what more I can do in PP.

    Again, thanks for your input. I am happy of the progress I have made because I only received the white background on Friday and only had the studio light for a little over a week.

    Good points and ones I will consider for future work.

    Regards.

  10. #10

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Hi Nigel,

    Quote Originally Posted by Smudger View Post
    Hi Colin. Thanks for your review. I take your constuctive critism on board.
    You're very welcome.

    1 - Point about eyes in top third. I think I have been a bit scared of cropping too much. I will keep this in mind for future Portraiture processing and see how I get on.
    Don't be afraid to crop tops of heads off ... you'll see it all the time. It looks better in most cases (portraiture is about faces, not tops of heads). eg

    New Home Studio

    2 - Yes, I did use a soft skin brush. Maybe set too high? I actually thought they looked OK but, again, I will take zour advice and consider this in future processing. I think I must have got confused because I thought the soft skin brush was used on women and children.
    It's a question of degree. A good retouch is the one where it LOOKS like there was no retouching at all. I typically apply a gaussean blur with a high radius (eg 21 on a full resolution image) - mask it off to only skin regions, and then vary the opacity. Typically the opacity will be close to their age (I like to call it the "age slider" ).

    3 - Would you just not bother with water marks on this kind of picture?
    I don't bother with them period. They don't stop people "stealing" copies of the image -- stealing images is grossly over-rated - they're easily removed anyway - and all they achieve is totally ruining a photo for the vast majority of folks. We ran a poll on them a while back ... here's how members voted ...

    [IMG]New Home Studio[/IMG]

    4 - Ok, white backdrop. Firstly when I set it up, I was using a light with a white umbrella, just for the background and then I was using the main light and a fill light for the subject. It did come out extreamely overexposed. That said, I didnt really play about with the camera settings but instead, turned the Backdrop light off. Are you suggesting that I do need to go back to having a light just for thebackdrop, but to experiment with other settings to get the correct exposure?
    Light falls off with the square of the distance -- so you're not going to be able to get correct background and foreground exposure with a single light unless they're both at the same distance from the light source ... which by definition just can't happen. So you ALWAYS need a separate light unless you want to be doing a lot of work in PP.

    If you're using seamless paper then you don't need to have the light diffused -- bare bulbs are just fine. You'll hear folks say that you need to over-expose the background ("nuke" is a term that comes to mind), but that'll bite you in the bum (the only time you need to nuke the background is if you're using a white sheet and you want to blat the wrinkles (not recommended). If the background is white then it'll naturally reflect the most light anyway (compared to anything on the subject) -- so it only needs to be exposed normally/correctly. Going too high will destroy fine hair detail.

    By far the easiest way to sort out your lighting is to use a light meter ... if you don't have one of them then you could spot-meter it and upshift it 2 stops, but that's a bit of a PITA to be honest. In your situation you're working 3 light zones, so it's not too difficult -- I work up to 7 and without a meter it's just impossible. In essence you'll probably need a couple of lights so you can illuminate the background evenly without having to have the light hidden behind the subject (so one to each side). In my case I set them up and adjust the power to give me F11 @ 1/125th @ ISO 100 - then adjust my key light to give me the same - then get the fill light where I want it (typically around 1.5 stops lower) - and then the hair light at around a stop or 2 over.

    5 - Seen and noted. Maybe I had him standing too close to the light in the first instance. I will watch out for this and see what more I can do in PP.
    You'll probably find that it was in essence a specular reflection. They always say "get the lights as close as possible" to get it as soft as possible and to give the best light DoF (in terms of background separation), but the downside can be uneven illumination -- so in reality the rule needs to be "close, but not too close".

    Again, thanks for your input. I am happy of the progress I have made because I only received the white background on Friday and only had the studio light for a little over a week.
    It's a journey of discovery

    Here's a shot of my studio ...

    New Home Studio

  11. #11

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Much appreciated Colin for the time and effort you clearly devoted to this response. It does help and it helps a lot. I am learning each day. I read your lessons on Processing of Portraits last night too and that also was enlightening.

    Oh and also, cracking studio!

  12. #12

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Smudger View Post
    Much appreciated Colin for the time and effort you clearly devoted to this response. It does help and it helps a lot. I am learning each day. I read your lessons on Processing of Portraits last night too and that also was enlightening.
    No worries Nigel.

    Oh and also, cracking studio!
    Big enough to fly my RC helicopters in

  13. #13

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    No worries Nigel.



    Big enough to fly my RC helicopters in
    haha...well, I could fly mine, in mine but that is because I am awesome pilot! Might be a crap photographer...lol, but give me a RC helipcopter then I am on your tail! hehe

  14. #14

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    Re: New Home Studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Smudger View Post
    haha...well, I could fly mine, in mine but that is because I am awesome pilot! Might be a crap photographer...lol, but give me a RC helipcopter then I am on your tail! hehe
    Ha - if you value your helicopter you'd be well advised to keep it - and anything else of value - well clear of me when I'm flying!

    I'm mostly flying a T-Rex 450 Pro DFC with a Helicommand HC3SX unit - what have you got?

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