What's the trick?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by fivepoint, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #1
    I am very sorry if this is a stupid NEWB question... I'm almost certain it is. But if someone could help me out, I'd me most appreciative.

    I saw these pictures today: http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/galleries/american_farmer/04af.php

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    These photos have something about them which I love. I've seen this effect elsewhere (I think in the 'photo of the day' thread on this forum) but have no idea how to reproduce it. They only way I can describe it is sort of a 'glow'. The image seems to be brilliantly lit in certain spots, and dark in others. It seems just slightly unnatural, but even more beautiful than normal.

    I realize that the photorapher in this case is very talented... but I'd like to know how this technique is accomplished (by special lenses, or if it's a filtering technique in Photoshop) could someone please define for me what I am seeing, and hopefully some steps to try and reproduce something similar.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #2
  3. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #3
    It's not only HDR'd, as termina3 suggested, but they seem to have benefitted from a Dragan-like post processing.

    This is Dragan.

    You can DL a Draganizer plug in for PS here.
     
  4. svndmvn Guest

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Location:
    Italy
    #4
    I don't know if the link provided by the OP suggests anything about the process involved but I have to say they're not necessarily HDR, it could just be all about great lights, more than one speedlight,I mean and of course a good camera that offers good Dynamic Range out of the camera would help
     
  5. mknawabi macrumors 6502

    mknawabi

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Location:
    Irvine, CA
  6. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #6
    Wow!!! That's exactly what I was looking for! Thanks so much for taking the time to post the links and everything... I even made my first attempt a few minutes ago with an old photo I had taken.

    Any critiques would be more than welcome, I'm not sure I'm doing it 100% right yet. :)

    BEFORE:
    [​IMG]

    AFTER:
    [​IMG]
     
  7. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    #7
    HDR mainly only works when you apply it to a scene with a dynamic range that can't be completely captured with a single frame and you use multiple frames (auto exposure bracketing) to generate an HDR image... just do a search for the multitudes of HDR how-to threads here and elsewhere...
     
  8. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816

    Mr.Noisy

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
    Location:
    UK™
    #8
    Judging by the last image of the face close up I have to agree with Lovesong, It appears there is some Dragan like process that may have taken place here.

    Andrzej Dragan Photography
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #9
    True, Dragan may be one reason, but mknawabi is right. Proper use of flash is the main reason why the portraits come out the way they do. People are always so surprised when a flash really helps their photos. Flash and a good tripod are always great.

     
  10. apearlman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Red Hook, NY
    #10
    Artificial light done right

    All three seem to benefit from flash or strobes. #3 (the close-up) appears to have some post-processing, as others have mentioned.

    #2 is most obvious. Look at the direction of the shadows on the hay bales. The light comes from the left side of the frame, and the shadows fall to the right. But look at the subject's face; light seems to come from the right, creating those bright spots on his nose and chin.

    I've never seen a sun that shines from two directions.

    HDR experts probably know one when they see one, but I don't see any telltale signs of HDR in #2. The photographer could have exposed for the sky, rendering the trees somewhat dark, and then lighted the person with a strobe. HDR doesn't seem necessary to get this look.
     
  11. RainForRent macrumors 6502

    RainForRent

    Joined:
    May 31, 2006
    Location:
    Greenville, SC
    #11
    I'll be the one to belabor the point, why not.

    Not everything these days is HDR. There was a great photo post up on Digg a while back and every 12 year old there kept saying "No way you can get that kind of dynamic range without HDR and Photoshop, blahblahblah...". As it were, it was a great photo shot on awesome film (Velvia 50 stopped down to 32, if I remember correctly) and just well exposed. It's frustrating in a digital age to explain to newcomers to photography that proper exposures, which include flash photography, are 1000x better than anything you can do post-process.

    Long-winded rant aside, these are great portraits. The 2nd one looks like some simple fill flash, nothing more. Good luck in your learning, OP.
     
  12. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Where am I???
    #12
    I don't think any of these are HDR.

    Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love HDR. There are times when it is absolutely crucial to getting the result I want (and sometimes I just want to have a little fun), but it's not for everything, and it's not being used here.

    #1 and #2 are just good use of strobes. #3 is Draganized; one of the tell-tale signs is the extreme detail in the pores of the face. You only get that with Dragan-esque effects (if you use LR or Aperture, try cranking the fill light and bringing back proper exposure with the blacks and exposure sliders, and you'll see a good approximation of this effect).
     
  13. iGary Guest

    iGary

    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    Randy's House
  14. H2Ockey macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
    #14
    Ditto the "Not HDR" sentiment.

    As well in #2 look at the wires of the fence on either side of the subject. Shadows on Hay bales in one direction and the shadow cast on the fence in the other.

    You do have to be careful when adding strobes to scenes that are well lit. I can't give good advice on when it works and when it doesn't as I don't have the experience or skill to say. BUT i do know when it does and doesn't work you may not know why but the sub-concious does. Often multiple light sources confuse the brain and really make an otherwise well composed scene hard to look at. These are done very well though.
     
  15. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #15
    What do y'all think about the dog in the first frame?
     
  16. likeavaliant macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    #16
    it's cute
     
  17. H2Ockey macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
    #17
    He's of a breed with fairly oily fur and the curly texture of it lends to the sort of shimmer you think you might see. The light is unnatural. The sun is low to the right of the frame (see the tractor tires) based on this there should be a good amount of shadow on the back of the dogs neck and hind legs. The flash/strobe lights up the dog fairly evenly, but you can definitely tell there is two light sources not just a combination of exposure.

    As said good work of a fill flash but not HDR... also just my opinion and will admit I could be wrong... I just don't think so. Take the photo as a whole not just concentrating the parts that look HDR like.
     
  18. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #18
    On the lighting topic....

    These are just a couple of shots from goofing around with a couple of friends, but I think it still reinforces the point that proper lighting can do a light for you. There is NO photoshop on these images (which you can tell, cuz they are kinda lame!).

    This is an ambient light only shot:

    [​IMG]

    This is taken two minutes later, with one off camera flash placed camera right. The subject is cross lit with sunlight from camera left, and this flash from camera right:

    [​IMG]

    Like I said, not the greatest photos... but a nice example of what adding some light can do for you.
     
  19. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #19
    I don't want to "argue" a point, but well-done HDR can look like it's not HDR. I'm not saying it's definitely HDR, but there are little pieces that look like it is.
     
  20. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #20

    Excellent demonstration! Thank you... One good thing about going the HDR route to achieve these results I suppose, is that you don't have to have multiple lighting sources and be a pro or semi-pro with many dollars put into your lighting system. All it takes is a small piece of software, and one photo exposed a couple of different ways.
     
  21. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #21
    By the same logic, a person doesn't feel comfortable in a room that has light coming from only one direction- it's really difficult to predict as most of us are used to windows and lights, windows from multiple sides and light reflecting off of buildings.

    It doesn't take more than a reflective piece of foamcore to get to "mutliple sources" and flashes are relatively cheap- you're outside, so add one flash and you've got two sources of light- with the right flash, for about half what you'd pay for Photomatix- add another flash and you don't have to worry so much about noise in bringing up the shadows. You have to do a lot more manipulation to bring out shadows and you're not likely to get the same look as you get from directional lighting against skin or hair. If you go to add a new light source in post-processing, you'll mess up the shadows, which are a more important subconscious clue than multiple lighting sources. Plus with people you're limited to a single exposure HDR manipulated, which won't help if the DR of the scene is too wide. Why are so many photographers so afraid of lighting that they'd rather spend minutes to hours in software instead of seconds to minutes getting the shot in camera?
     
  22. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    Location:
    IOWA
    #22
    Good point. Thanks. I'm pretty new at this stuff.
     
  23. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #23
    Look through the planetneil links in the D40 clear picture thread, do a little poking around on strobist.blogspot.com and grab a copy of "Light, Science and Magic" and keep an open mind- if you actually start to light you'll see dramatic improvements if you follow the techniques illustrated. The most expensive non-standard part is triggering off-camera flash, if you use cords it's not that bad, but you can trip over them, IR works most times, but optical or wireless triggers tend to be most reliable- but if you really want good images, spend just a little time with the resources I mention and you'll find that controlling the light gives you what you want in an image, not what you find there.
     
  24. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #24
    Well, yes and no....

    When doing portrait photography like you started this thread with, it is never as simple as exposing for the background, exposing for the subject, and making an HDR.

    On my second photo, do you see the light fall off on the subject, from his face down his body? That is because the flash has a snoot on it (think small tube over the flash head), that limits the light to a narrow beam (think spot light). This allows you to focus the light on the key part of the subject, and allows it to fall off gradually to the areas of least interest.

    What if the background was a dark one, and your subject had dark hair? You need a separation light in the back to provide some subtle rim lighting, to create form and definition in your subject and keep them prominent from the background.

    As to cost, the example I posted involved the use of this equipment:

    1 SB24 Nikon flash bought on eBay for $60
    1 Light stand with swivel mount, bought for $40
    1 snoot, made from junk from a craft store - $2
    Cheap radio transmitter / receiver set, bought on eBay for $35 or so

    So, for about $140 I have a light I can drop anywhere, cross light with the sun, shape the beam, etc.

    Yes, since becoming more comfortable with lighting I have spent a significant amount of money on gear, but you don't have to start that way.

    There is something to be said for getting it right in camera too. My photo was done after I clicked the shutter. How much time will be lost if you have to HDR each photo from the shoot to get the results you want?

    I highly recommend you spend 1/2 hour and read Strobist's lighting 101. You can get it in pdf here:

    http://strobist.blogspot.com/2007/11/lighting-101-now-available-in-pdf.html

    It will be eye opening!

    :)

    p.s. I do love HDR, but if you want to create great portraits like you started this thread with proper lighting is a key element.
     
  25. joelw135 macrumors 6502

    joelw135

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    New Jersey, USA

Share This Page