Yes - and I love it!
Yes - and I don't like it!
Well, the guy who doesn't know anything useful about portraiture thinks that it certainly gives good definition to the facial features and puts in dimensions of drama and interest that one doesn't see in the 'bog-standard' baby pics.
The fact that Colin is able to acquire the necessary equipment is good. What can't be bought (but could be acquired by anyone with the drive to learn) is the knowledge that this can and should be done and the skill to put that knoweldge into practice.
Colin wrote (recently) about the 'ordinary' looking picture on the front of a glossy mag being nothing of the kind, but rather being the result not only of significant investment in resources, but also knoweldge and skill.
Someone else also recently wrote (Peter, was it you?) about people looking at images for sale and saying 'Oh, I could do that'.
Take those two statements together. There's no way that you're going to replicate the picture above without the equipment that can produce the effect. Okay, we accept that. But, even more so, there's no way you're going to produce that image without commiting to learning and then applying that learning. That's the real skill. And that's what everyone needs to think about - How much to be want to, are we willing to, learn?
Is this a random shot you are posting to show us how the box works or this is supposed to be a final product?
As I wrote above, I don't have a lot to contribute in terms of skill in relation to portraiture. You, on the other hand, as can be evidenced from your work, do. I also infer from your comment that you do not think this portrait is really the finished article.
If that is the case, I am interested to know why. What is it that leads you to this view?
I do not aspire to have the type of set-up that Colin has. Nor do I seek to acquire the skill set that either he or you have in the taking of portraits. But, as part of my documenting the life of my community, I do want to include more people.
So, I would value your comments.
The way I work things these days is to dump images from a shoot onto an iPad and give it to the client for them to make their selects. It has advantages and disadvantages ...
1. The iPad produces a consistent viewing experience (so I don't have to worry about mal-adjusted monitors)
2. They can't copy-off the images and get them printed locally
3. They get to play with an iPad for a few days, and
4. Because I need the iPad back, they have to "get on with it"
5. I don't waste 3 hours of my time going through 700 images with the client sitting beside me.
1. The images only have minimal processing.
This last point is a concern; on one hand I don't want to process several hundred images only for them to choose a handfull, but on the other hand, an unprocessed image can be difficult for a customer to evaluate. So ...
... what I'm doing is ...
1. GET THE IMAGES AS GOOD AS POSSIBLE AT THE TIME OF CAPTURE (seriously, this step takes on a whole new level of importance when you're dealing with several hundred images!)
2. Give the customer a thorough briefing on what criteria to disqualify an image on (ie on things like expression, not thinigs like levels, composition etc).
But - frankly - it's still a worry. So what I do batch process the ACR stuff as best I can, but to give them an idea as to what an image could look like, I'll pick one that I like, and retouch it.
And so to finally answer the question ... that image above is one that I liked, to show to the customer what any of them could look like (in terms of processing).
But in essence, yes, it's a finished image.
That's an interesting process and use of modern tech, Colin. You can readily analyze it to determine if it is helping or hindering your sales.
Thanks, Colin for the detailed replay. That is a really innovative workflow. I have worked with an iPad but still don't know how you lock it so that the customer can not copy the image files.
Anyway, to answer Donald's question, the reason I was not sure if this is a final image or just a shot to show us how the box is set up, was exactly that I am seeing too much of the "contraption" in the image itself. To me it looks like someone put this little guy on the copying machine and took a picture while the machine was copying. So, I think it looks much better if we just see the effect of the light coming from below and front without seeing to of the box. What have the box then? I think it is a good thing specially in the case of kids to provide a comfortable supporting surface during the shoot.
Apart from the fact that the exposure is too high in the lower half and it suddenly decreases looks a bit unnatural too me. Even on the face, the chin is too bright but the eyes, specially the left, are way darker.
Also, I don't like the way the shirt is reflected (partly) in the glass below the subject. May be if he was wearing something without the stripes, this last issue would not be that prominent but right now it is, specially since it is visible only in the front part of the image and vanishes where his belly meets the glass.
Also, the fingers are almost cut off, same with the top of the head, and I did not want to start saying these if this turned out to be just a random shot to show us the set up, since Colin doesn't need me to tell him he should not cut off the finger of his customers
Come on Ali - tell me how you REALLY feel about it
- I left the "contraption" showing because I liked the reflection, and the two go together
- Originally the head / fingers were a tight crop, but at some point I think the auto lens correction kicked in in photoshop, and it often crops out a bit more after it's fixed the distortion, and that one caught me napping
- Yes - it's definately "un-natural" lighting ... and an un-natural view point too ... so it's a different looking kind of shot. Probably one of those "love it" or "hate it" type shots. Mother loved it though - and so do I
Let's put it to the test ...
I'll confess to being a "don't like it", but I would if ...
the small sliver of non-milky reflection at front edge were cropped off (or made milky), and...
there was a little more frontal fill light on the head - at the moment, there are some perfectly natural, but unflattering, bulges and furrows above the forehead - a little more fill would have toned them down a bit
oh, and I suppose you could 'graft on' 10 pixels of cloned white on the three sides where fingers and head 'touch the sides'.
That's all, not asking for much
Well, I went for the 'I like it' camp.
Given the expression on the child's face, I think both the lighting and the fact that the head and hands are touching the edge. do work.
What I'm seeing is a playful, mischievious, adventurous child crawling through one of those tunnels that you get in pre-school centres on, in and around which kids play. I see this as a child on an mission of exploration. And in a very real way, he was on a learning journey. There he was being faced up by a funny looking man with a funny looking box in his hand (or on a tripod) and lots of funny lights all around. These were all new things and he wanted to find out about them - What they felt like; What they tasted like; How far he could throw them.
I see an expression of fascination and curiosity; of interest. And the lighting helps intensify that sense of seeking to learn - although the child would obviously not conceive of it in those terms.
The metaphor, if you like, is that this is the child coming out of the box to discover the weird and wonderful world that's out there.
Last edited by Donald; 14th December 2010 at 01:32 PM.