10.07.2013

Getting back to basics. It's all about the portrait.






Jacob is an actor and next week he's moving to NYC. I've seen him in several productions at Zach Scott Theatre and when he asked me if I'd work with him to create some new head shots to take along I was both flattered and thrilled to work with him.  I set up a simple lighting design in the studio and we concentrated on getting fun expressions and a lot of range so that we could pick and choose.

The main light is a 184 cm white umbrella with black backing used over to the right of frame. The bottom of the umbrella is just a bit above Jacob's chin level. The background light is a a small 12 by 16 inch chimera soft box. The fill (when used) is a 4x4 foot Chimera white reflector to the opposite side.
The lighting for this set up is powered by an Elinchrom Ranger RX AS unit with two flash heads.
The A/S stands for asymmetrical. The head on the background gets 1/3rd of the output while the main light gets 2/3rds of the output.

All the images started life as large, extra-fine color Jpegs but, on a lark I decided to toss them into DXO Film Pack 3 and make them into Tri-X wannabes.

I shot with the Samsung Galaxy NX because it's a fun camera to use in the studio. I love the big screen and being able to touch the point I want in focus and then tap to shoot is kind of intriguing. The camera is extremely responsive to screen taps and the process of shooting reminded me of shooting with my old Hasselblad. There is value, I am finding, to the new, hipster way of composing on a two dimensional screen. I do pay more attention to composition. You might not appreciate that here as I've waded in and cropped the images with impunity. The star of the shoot (besides Jacob) was the 60mm f2.8 macro lens I've been using with my camera. It's like a 90mm lens with a full frame camera and that's right at my sweet spot for portrait lenses. This one is sharp and focuses quickly and surely.

After we shot I dumped all the files into Aperture, edited out the blinkers and stinkers and exported them as smaller Jpegs, destined for a Smugmug gallery. Once that was done I started doing my own edit (see above) and corrupting the images via DXO's black and white conversion program.

Someone is sure to ask about the color images so I'm including one below.

One last word: All studio cameras should have big screens like this one. It makes instantly reviewing with clients or art directors a LOT more rewarding. And I can see the images well even without my reading glasses. Sorry, no connectivity features were used on this project....


11 comments:

David Bausum said...

Kirk,

I hope you have a small inkling how refreshing it is to read your blog. Thank you for the energy you put into it for us, your readers.

David

Claire said...

While something bugs me (and I'm trying to figure out what) about the NX's output, the portraits themselves are fantastic. Skintone appears ever so slighty ruddy on my monitor, too ?

James Pilcher said...

That Galaxy NX seems to have found its way into your studio as a serious camera. Samsung seems to to be pushing the envelope on this one. The camera scene continues to change, and change, and change. Good luck to you, Kirk.

Kirk Tuck said...

Ah. Claire. I think you are blaming the camera for a regional difference. You live in Belle France where everyone's complexion is lovely and neutral while we live on the sun scavenged, hard scrabble terrain of Texas where every executive has raccoon eyes from wearing sunglasses but no sunscreen while playing golf and even the usually cloistered actors are beaten with lashes of UV radiation every time they step out the door. People here are........ruddy. That said, I'm not seeing it in the color image above. Your monitor may be just a little toasty....... Anyone else? Feel free to chime in.

Kirk Tuck said...

James, I'm sure you'll remember my feelings about the camera when we met in Denver (thank you for fun coffee break!!!) but when I got home and started playing with the new camera they sent me it felt tighter and quicker. Not a huge difference but in the right direction. What turned the corner for me was getting over my years of doing something the same way and embracing some of the new stuff in the controlled studio environment. In here it worked just as it should. The touch focus is fast and accurate and locked on in the average light of my studio using battery strobes and no modeling lights. And, with the right color balance I think the files look great. But of course hitting the right color balance is up to me.... I'll keep you posted. By the way....you were right, it was Red Rock and it was amazing! Thanks again!

Jorge Arturo said...

Mr. Tuck, I've been wanting to ask, did you find it difficult to get used to the all android system, touchscreen interface? for me the lack of physical buttons is what's keeping me away to put this camera on my whishlist, was interested on the nx20 and here in my country it is easier to buy lenses for samsung cameras than for instance m43 or even some sony.And well there's also the point that we have to accept where all this is going, sometime in the future no more ovf, less buttons and more touchscreens, etc, etc.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Jorge. I must admit that all change is initially difficult for me. I've lived through so many analog and digital interfaces it's just mind boggling. But the GNX does a good job of replicating the intention of the controls and in the "professional" mode the first quick menu handles most of the changes pretty nicely. I do like the one knob on top. you push in to click and that takes you through the shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation and ISO settings. Once in a setting you can use the same control to choose your setting. Since aperture, shutter speed, EV and ISO are the four main things we use when actually shooting it becomes a pretty simplified shooting interface. I'm getting used to it now. Only took a month. But hell, I'm still trying to figure out the Olympus m4:3 menus.....

Jorge Arturo said...

Thank you so much for yor reply, I really though it wasn't that straight forward to use it in any of the photography modes, thought you had to open some app and then go from there, but as you are putting it, it makes perfect sense. I guess I'll wait for it to get here and go for a test drive, still madly in love with the nx20 look, and not to mention the beautiful nx300, but also it is the fear to get into a system that may dissapear after a few years.

Jan Krabat said...

Regarding "reviewing with clients or art directors" - there's an online service for that: proofhq.com.

Lanthus Clark said...

If anything the dude looks a little pale, but I know my monitor tends towards being a little cool.

(Btw, I live in Sweden where everybody is pale...)

neopavlik said...

I like 1 and 3, but the errant tuft of hair kinda ruins the others for me.
I'm guessing he's a carefree fun guy ?