Way too hot outside so I'm inside getting ready for a portrait session with physician. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

I knew we were in for an uncomfortable day when I was driving to the swimming pool at 6:45 this morning and the announcer on the radio told us that the current temperature was 79 degrees with 96% humidity. The high today should top out at 102, which would be pleasant if we had the desert dryness of someplace like Tucson, AZ., but heat index indicates that it's going to feel more like 108. These are all Fahrenheit temps.

Crazy as I may be I'm loathe to go out walking in this stuff and even a bit happy that I don't have to drag a couple hundred pounds of gear in and out of a remote location. There are some days in Texas when it makes sense to swim early, have coffee at the chilly-est coffee bar in the neighborhood and then get home and work in the studio before the sun climbs high. But I guess it's not just Texas that's dealing with the heat today but most of the contiguous U.S. Is this literally or metaphorically welcome to hell? 

My portrait appointment this afternoon is with a doctor from a large radiology practice in Austin, Texas. It's a practice with about 150 doctors and we've been making portraits for them for nearly fifteen years now. When we started I used a pop up background that I wasn't thrilled with but it became our official background for hundreds of engagements. Lately the art director for the practice has decided to go back and change all the backgrounds via PhotoShop. That's freed me up to totally get rid of the old background and to now shoot the headshots against a white seamless paper. Easier to cut people out and drop them into different backgrounds. Easier for me to get consistency.

My main light today is the Neewer 400 watt second flash I wrote about recently. It's in a collapsible 48 inch softbank. My fill is just a passive reflector to the opposite side of the subject. I've got Neewer Vision 4 light aiming into an umbrella as a single light on my background and an additional Neewer Vision 4 with a standard reflector and diffusion sock as my accent/backlight. The background light is flagged off with a black flag to keep it from spilling onto my subject.

Since the art director is dropping out the subject from the overall image in PhotoShop I'm making her job easily by shooting at a smaller f-stop than I usually do. My lens on the D800e is stopped down to f8 and 1/2 so we can keep hair in focus. It makes getting believable selections easier...

I took a few minutes to meter the lighting set up. I'm using an incident meter and getting f9 from my main light, f9 on my background and f7.1 from my hair/accent/backlight. Once the doctor steps in to the set up I'll fine tune a bit.

I'm nearly always set up and ready to go when my clients arrive. I like to offer a bottle of cold water and let my subjects take some time to get acclimated to the space. For a nice headshot we can usually get started, fine-tuned and finished in about 20 to 25 minutes.

I just finished shooting "Alan" a few minutes ago. I'm going right into the ingestion and post processing of the images and should have a gallery up for the art director in about half an hour. Once I know we've got a range of good keepers, and that the gallery is live and functional, I'll send along an invoice as a .PDF. 

"Alan" came today in a nicely tailored, navy sport coat, pressed dress shirt and perfectly tied tie. He also had on a pair of seersucker shorts and some sandals. His nod to the oppressive heat. A perfect combination for the season, and the purpose of the appointment. 

One more project done before the holiday!


Fred said...

I knew when we were leaving Lake Placid on Sunday and it was getting hot and sticky that it was not going to better here in the "lowlands" of beautiful upstate New York. Interestingly, my cousin who flew back to Tucson this morning had been walking around saying what nice comfortable weather we were having here, in the mid to high 90's and high humidity.
And on a brief photographic note :-) I like the portrait at the top of the post quite a bit. I particularly like the shadow on the side of the model's nose. If they are much darker than in this picture I prefer that that shadow be larger and take in more of the model's face. I hope that makes sense.
Keep cool. I believe there may be a gin and tonic heading my way (for medicinal purposes only!)

Jack said...

After a cold winter that would not quit, I was sure that I would enjoy anything that summer threw at us. I was wrong.

It turns out that it's only while I'm walking the dog in 20 degree temps with wind chill in the single digits that 98 degrees with 90% humidity seem appealing.


Mitch said...

This week's shoots featured rambling around in Finger Lakes vineyards. It was brutal with sledgehammer sun and extremely high dew points for this part of northern NY state. 100+ temps making the grape vines go wild, with heat indices higher still. Cameras shaded as much as possible. Tough shoots. But ... I was getting paid to ramble around Finger Lakes vineyards and there were always "pour shots" that were needed from me and the video guy. Things could be worse. Next on the agenda in this relentless heat ... a few breweries!

Interesting that you lit the background for extraction. I tend towards unlit-white as my go-to for extraction. Blond hair, or worse somebody with genteel gray, shot on lit-white seem to me to make extracting the subject tougher.