Sunday, April 27, 2008

Will Spring Ever Arrive??

This has been the coldest, wettest April I can remember since moving to Oregon in 1996. The ivy that covers the wooden fence around my house should be covered in fresh green leaves, but is instead only just now budding. The Japanese maple should full of color, but is bare and covered with moss.

Although this weekend has been nice with dry weather and relatively warm temperatures, it has been nothing like our normal April. We're all hoping that May will be better and we'll actually get more than two days of nice weather in a row.

The long term forecast calls for a hot dry summer. One can only hope, and I certainly do, as I have a number of outdoor photographic projects I plan to shoot with various models this summer. I'm giving up some of my normal faire and festival events to concentrate on expanding my portfolio to complete at least three more shoots in my fairly project. I've lined up at least three models already, including a lovely Asian girl, a Latino beauty, and blond-haired, blue-eyed lovely who will be my Winter Fairy (you've seen her in my portfolio already as I've done a couple of shoots with her).

So, although the weather has been less than conducive to photography, I've been working on planning for these projects (gather costume material, visualizing the images in my head, and getting the locations planned out for the shoot). I do need to find someone interested in being my photographer's assistant for the shoots, but I don't think that will be too difficult.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to post-process the images from my last few shoots. The model above, Lisa, has a very natural look, is very fun to work with, and when we finished our shoot, left me with over a 1000 images to sort through. Of course, not every image will be used or processed, but they still need to be reviewed and the best poses tagged for use. That should keep me busy until the weather gets better.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Post Processing is fun?

Shoots are fun, but there is still lots of work to be done once the model goes home.

I haven't posted many new images here lately, primarily due to the amount of post-processing that I need to do on the images before I consider them ready for publication. Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's the photographer's responsibility to get lighting, exposure and composition right in the camera so that minimal post processing is required, but in the digital age, some post processing is required for almost all images, especially when working with human models.

In all cases, due to the anti-aliasing filter used in most Digital SLR cameras, some sharpening must be done post processing, especially if you're like me and shoot RAW. Even if I shoot JPG I have sharpening set to minimum so I can use the more powerful algorithms in my computer to sharpen the images instead of the smaller, less powerful CPU's in my cameras.

In addition, the best white balance can be set and fine tuned with the computer and, of course, the histogram and image curves can be adjusted to give the best details in the highlights and shadows.

Finally, models do not have flawless skin or hair. Often times a blemish, or even several blemishes will need to be retouched away. Small wrinkles will need to be de-emphasized or obscured, while wisps of hair will need to be removed from the face. Small threads have to disappear from the edges of clothing and fabric, and the overall look of the image will required some sort of treatment: B&W, a subtle color shift, selective coloring, additional vignetting.

Post-processing an image is what moves photography further along the scale toward art rather than merely the craft of recording a scene. After all, Ansel Adams did his best work in the dark room.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Final Model Shoot

Ashley was the last model in my series of photo shoots from the week before last. This was the 3rd time I've shot with Ashley (including her test shoot). She was my first model for my fairy series, and she's likely to be a model for another set in that series as she has that slender, almost ethereal look that makes her a good choice for such images.

For this shoot we went for a much different look. We did a number of garter, hose and corset shots as well as a number of images in white stockings and a man's shirt evocative of the pin-up type photos of the 1940's.

Some of the images worked quite well for conversion via filters to quite a different look, and I've been enjoying experimenting with those images to create something quite different from my normal photographs. I still have quite a number of images to post process, so there will be many more opportunities to try out different looks and effects as I work with each different group of photos.

My personal favorites of the images I've post-processed so far have been of the "nude artist." Ashley was quite playful and willing to work with me on the concept and pulled it off quite well.

Of course, real life did intervene and I had to finish my income tax returns and make a business trip so I'm a little behind in processing all the images from that week, but I have been quite pleased with the results and I'm looking forward to working with each of these models again over the warmer months of the year.