Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

Archive for the ‘Portrait Photography’ Category

Portrait retouching…

Posted by Mike on September 16, 2009

I got lazy the other day!… lazy eye…

I made this picture (picture 1 RAW)… then worked it over in “lightroom” and delivered it since it looked pretty good (picture 2)… then the art director calls and says “… ya know… I know you can do better.. this looks like crap… fix it!”

Lightroom does not have the capabilities to fix this photo. So into Photoshop… 4 layers to start, defocus one, darken it, do shape shifting of the face on another layer, haircut on another layer, skin smoothing on another, sharpen eyes on another…. Then paint them layer masks until something happens…. Oh yeah I forgot the big one “lighting effects” on a layer saved the day from too flat a light… and the wrong color… the light was bouncing off a red wall totally queering the whole picture… take a look. (pictures 3, 4, 5, and 6 for the final).

You will notice on the bottom of the final picture I have included a gray scale. This is because most people have PC’s and have no clue as to how to calibrate the color, adjust themonitor or whether they have a 6 bit or 8 bit monitor. So I ask them how the grayscale looks if there is some kind of argument. I usually get a silent response…. and probe some more to find out the gray has turned green (out of whack 6 bit monitor) and it’s too dark to see separation in the lower shades… So I say it looks perfect on my end that;s as good as we can do… adjust your computer… see here too:   browsers and photography

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Cover shot

Posted by Mike on July 9, 2009

You need a cover shot… it’s a bad day right… no sun… Well the camera didn’t see it that way…. after a little work-over in LR and PS. Note: I added nothing to the photo… no fake sky or any such thing… This is all raw multilayer processing with masks to change the color temperature, exposures, gradients, retouching,  and clarity between 3 different layers.

We have a new rule by the way…. NO LIME GREEN CLOTHING!

capitol gang

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Big group Lighting ;)

Posted by Mike on November 9, 2008

To shoot (don’t ya hate the word “shoot”) this group I used 2 600 watt second lights.

One was coming out of a 5 foot umbrella at about 10 feet high. The other was coming from the right side bounced off a ten foot white board for a reflector.

Still, there was significant light fall off toward the rear and right side of the group. A major factor here is poor ambient lighting and the room was solid black, floor, ceiling, and walls.

I solved the problem by splitting the photo into two layers, making levels correct for the front on one and the back on the other. A layer mask with a graduated fill fixed the problem….

Hey! notice that I even have tonal separation between black hair and black curtain in the back row!!!


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Posted by Mike on November 9, 2008

This is a dream situation for portrait photographers… because why?

Because this is kind of the stuff you grab when the house is on fire.


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Street Photography

Posted by Mike on October 20, 2008

I have never been really great at just walking up to people and getting them to agree to a photo… I’m OK at it but not as good as some others….

Bo helped me out… he was game for anything when I met him and gave me a 20 minute performance. So I gave him a portrait of a man who may not be the same guy he sees in the mirror, if you know what I mean.


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Just Walking by…

Posted by Mike on September 20, 2008

I was photographing a group of actors and directors out in front of Benaroya Hall in Seattle a few days ago and this guy walked by…. Quickly I asked him if I could photograph him….

No lights, 35 mph windstrom, 21/4 square film with 50mm lens…. a lot of Photoshop.  It came out great and has already won one prize in competition.

It just goes to show you that the camera and the lights and all the the-wiz“stuff” are not as good as your eyeball when it comes to making the photo.

Here is the group we were photographing for an annual report.


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Howard Behar, patience incarnate

Posted by Mike on August 1, 2008

Mr. Behar, formerly of that giant coffee company (Starbucks), was the object of a magazine story I was asked to photograph.

The requirements to fit into the design were pretty specific and I needed to combine actual bowlers in the background with him….

He was cool right up to picture 3… and then we were done….

Thanks, Howard.

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Photos of the BAND, Pravda Studio

Posted by Mike on June 8, 2008

A little lighting control, defocused background, and minor retouching produces great location shots of the BAND. By the way, the party was hosted by one of our clients Gourmondo catering.

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The “Dukes”

Posted by Mike on May 18, 2008

I was photographing a party for Perkins Coie (the large law firm) and was asked to make sure I got a photo of the two senior partners together….

Immediately I “saw” Mortimer and Randolph Duke from the movie “Trading Places” with Eddie Murphy et al…

So here they are, Seattle style….the-dukes

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China’s continuous black eye…

Posted by Mike on March 2, 2008

A lot of people have over the last 40 years started saying more favorable things about China. There is this impression that things are “better” over there.

Well, here is one thing that isn’t better. And, if I could avoid buying anything made in China I would.

They are bums.

But, of course, they are bums just like the United States is a terrorist nation (as a government) but, of course, not us, individually.. We did finally just throw out the worst (by ANY measure) administration we have ever had in 200 plus years. So there’s hope, I guess.

This wonderful little girl was adopted from China and brought to the US to live with some folks who adore her. Even the dog adores her… He, by the way, uses his tail as a metronome as she practices the violin.

She’s smart, she’s a musical talent too. I bet she’s famous someday!

Here is the black eye part. She was dumped off at an orphanage to die by her parents solely because she is a girl.  So I hope she gets even by becoming a talented wonderful person and tours China playing with an orchestra for $20,000 per performance.

The photo was made with a Canon 20D and a 16 to 35mm Lens and two flash heads off where you can’t see them.

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