Portrait of Belinda. December 30, 2012
I trust everyone had a restful, relaxing and fun time over the holidays. I missed writing the blog but I really needed the time off just to refresh my brain and spend some time shooting just for myself. I'm working on my portraits this year and I thought I'd start a little bit early with this image of Belinda.
I'm always trying to simplify my lighting set ups and this was no different. It's the simplest lighting design I can imagine. I set up a light gray seamless paper in the background and lit it with one small LED panel on a short stand. The main light consisted of a 48 by 60 inch translucent panel (a cheap pop up type) with three of the same type LED panels pouring light through the white material. There's no fill on the opposite side.
I used three panels through the diffuser just to get an even spread with the right amount of power. The LED panels were the Fotodiox 312AS panels I've been buying this year. I centered the white balance dial midway between daylight and tungsten and eyeballed each one to make sure that I was getting the same color. At the center point between tungsten and daylight the light output is at its highest. If I were shooting for color it would be a simple step to make a custom white balance measurement. Since I knew I'd be aiming toward black and white I set my camera to AWB and blazed away. My basic exposure was f2.8 at 1/30th of a second @ iso 200.
I shot with the Sony a99 and the ultra cheap but really nice 85mm f2.8 Sony lens. The camera was on a tripod with a ball head. The a99 is much quieter and less frantic than any conventional DSLR with which I've shot. It calls less attention to itself. Couple that with continuous lighting and you've got the recipe for a laid back and non-intimidating portrait session. One of my favorite sitters pronounced it: "Much more comfortable."
The image started life as a raw file, saw some remedial action in Lightroom 4.3 and then was converted to a jpeg which then headed into PhotoShop for some mild retouching before jumping over to SnapSeed for a painless conversion to black and white.
Blog Notes. I'm back in the office and gearing up for an exciting year. After an intense intra-holiday session with senior management at the VSL there was general agreement that I should focus on my core interests and keep pursuing portrait photography in earnest. You'll probably have to wade through more and more blog posts that revolve around portraiture but we'll sneak in a camera or accessory review from time to time. If I find an interesting book or website we'll toss that in too....
Not much will change from last year. I think we've hit a nice groove and I intend to keep honing the messages I think I concentrated on last year: Gear is great but knowing what to do with it is even greater. Tools and technology continually change and you need to keep an open mind to new ways of doing photographs. Art has value beyond money: Art teaches us what it is to be human. Style comes from continuous work. Having a style trumps having a nice bag full of cameras. And...What passes for common knowledge is almost always outdated and now wrong.
Agree, disagree and argue. That's what the comments are for. But keep it civil and on a collegial level. Ad Hominem attacks will be flushed. Too much attitude (meanness masquerading as humor or presumptive expertise or pithiness) won't be tolerated. We don't censor, per se, but I do have an itchy delete finger. Don't make me use it.
My predictions for 2013. The economy will continue its recovery. More cameras will be introduced. More social media sites will come online. We'll continue to work professionally. Photography will continue to evolve. I will make little movies. I will swim.