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Thread: Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

  1. #1

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    Graham Heron

    Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

    Hi all,
    I'm far more familiar with dealing with lighter skinned models and am quite comfortable with them. However, far less experienced with darker skinned models. Any advice as to lighting? Any other potential issues?
    Thinking about it right now, I have heard that oily skin is a bigger problem, so freshly washed/make up to mitigate.
    Currently post processing one pic and the skin is more visbily blemished than I am used to. Do blemishes show more readily with darker skins? Or does the light respond differently (thinking subcutaneous issues become more apparent).
    Any other important issues to consider?

    Thanks in advance.

    Graham
    Here's an example of an event I was working the other day (who would guess it was Valentines Day ). Bear in mind this was not a modelling shoot, I was working fast, only a few seconds with each customer. However, she wants to do some modelling for me.
    I processed it a little gritty/contrasty. Second one is a straight pic - just blemishes cleaned up.
    Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

    Portrait lighting - darker skinned models
    Last edited by GrahamH; 16th February 2013 at 01:19 AM.

  2. #2
    pnodrog's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

    I prefer the second edit as the contrast is not as harsh. The background with the valentines theme would have been better with perhaps black behind it rather than white for the dark skin portraits. Have you tried using shadow highlight adjustment for reducing or controlling the contrast in the face.

    Because I have never had to cope with the difficulties and challenges you will be facing I will not comment further.
    Last edited by pnodrog; 16th February 2013 at 07:45 AM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

    Graham I suggest you read this: http://ethiopia.limbo13.com/index.ph...h_dark_skin_i/

    Look carefully at the bottom for links to Part 1,2 and 3. Hope it helps.

  4. #4
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

    A professional model would hide any noticeable blemishes with makeup, Someone sitting for an informal portrait may not. It is a debatable decision of either the photographer to suggest using makeup beforehand or editing the blemish during post processing. The post processing editing suggestion could also come from the model or a model's parent. If you are the client/photographer hiring a model what would you do, suggest makeup or suggest an edit?

  5. #5

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    Re: Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    I prefer the second edit as the contrast is not as harsh. The background with the valentines theme would have been better with perhaps black behind it rather than white for the dark skin portraits. Have you tried using shadow highlight adjustment for reducing or controlling the contrast in the face.

    Because I have never had to cope with the difficulties and challenges you will be facing I will not comment further.
    Good morning Paul,
    Thanks for your comments.
    The first image (edited) was the second image (after basic RAW adjustments) converted to BW, blended as soft light (opacity adjusted slightly) to create the greater contrast.
    I was using two large softboxes (as you can see from her eyes) to create fairly flat lighting. A lot of the customers were not on the younger side and their faces showed the extent of their experiences (and that means, when not being politically sensitive - wrinkled), so I was wanting to create flattering pics. Due to the lighting, there was relatively little shadow to deal with.

    The backdrop was a sheet of red cloth with the gold (reflective) shapes on it (yeah I know, a little cheesy, lucky there was a pizza shop nearby - but the event customers liked it and that's what mattered) so I wasn't able to adjust it easily.

  6. #6

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    Re: Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

    Quote Originally Posted by AB26 View Post
    Graham I suggest you read this: http://ethiopia.limbo13.com/index.ph...h_dark_skin_i/

    Look carefully at the bottom for links to Part 1,2 and 3. Hope it helps.
    Thanks Andre for the link.
    I found parts 1 and 2, but didn't see 3.
    In summary first part basically said 'use fill flash when against a light background'.
    Second part mentioned exposure compensation, bounce flash and light modifiers (reflectors).
    So I'm good with all that, basically the same as with any model.
    Love to know more what the model referenced in part one was walking about.
    Graham

  7. #7

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    Re: Portrait lighting - darker skinned models

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    A professional model would hide any noticeable blemishes with makeup, Someone sitting for an informal portrait may not. It is a debatable decision of either the photographer to suggest using makeup beforehand or editing the blemish during post processing. The post processing editing suggestion could also come from the model or a model's parent. If you are the client/photographer hiring a model what would you do, suggest makeup or suggest an edit?
    Hi John, thanks for the input. Good question to make me think from another perspective.
    As a photographer hiring a model, I would ask this young lady to use make-up to reduce my editing time. I would hope that it would also reduce the oily nature of skin so as to reduce reflection of the light and make the skin more evenly lit.
    She is not a pro model but someone who has only done a little bit (I would guess very little) and would like to do more. (I know this as she thought that I knew what I was doing - oh boy!!!). I hope to be able to do some sunset shots with her (long flowing gown, sand and sea backdrop).

    Graham

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