Wednesday, April 14, 2010

BEFORE/AFTER: An Inside Look

Posted by Russell Perkins | Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Category: , , |

(click on the image for a larger view)

Hey welcome back!
The other night, I wasn't feeling tired and for some reason had a desire to do something creative. I ended up rummaging through some of my archived photo shoots and came across a set that I did with model Brittany Blunt awhile back. The concept for this particular set was a bit of a "Backstage Glam" approach; the idea being that the models were in the middle of getting ready for their big shoot. Even though I loved the idea and got great poses from Brittany, I was unhappy at the time with my post-production process. So, I decided to try and tackle it again seeing as how it had been 2 years since this shoot had taken place and I was feeling particularly saucy!
As you can tell from the "Before" photo on the left, the raw composition, lighting, and color provide the basic foundation for what, in my mind, will be the finished commercial image. The word "raw" has become somewhat of a cornerstone in the digital era as every visual industry (Photography, Movies, Television, etc.) creates raw assets that will later be enhanced or expanded upon. An example is that in movies/television, it's common to see fragments of sets built with a bunch of green screens representing where the digital FX gurus will take over. Basically, it's a starting point. :)
With this shot, I knew that my main focus was the model and the prop elements that supported the "Backstage Glam" idea were secondary. However, the shot on the left was lit too brightly, causing the model and props to compete with each other for the viewer's attention. Also, you can see too much of the background behind the vanity mirror, which diminishes the visual impact of the overall shot. One of the things I teach to new Photographers is, to always decide what your focus is. A shot with too much visibility going on loses impact and thus the viewer's interest, whereas a shot that specifically controls what the viewer is supposed to see, maintains their interest and allows them to "fill in" the dark areas with their own ideas based on what the light areas reveal.
After adjusting the levels, brightness, and contrast, it looked better, but it lacked the commercial look we all see in a Victoria's Secret poster or a fashion ad. I decided to experiment with various photo filters and was delighted to find that the color began to take on a "hyper-real" version of itself. Upon seeing this, I created a new layer and filled it with a blue color, which overlayed the photo filter, which was overlaying the original photograph. As I type this, I just remembered what my college buddy, Jeff Herndon, who is a phenomenal concept artist, said one day after returning from his oil painting class: "to maximize the realism of a person, add in random colors like reds, greens, blues - colors you normally wouldn't associate with human skin pigmentation and your eyes will interpret them as shades of light". That kinda-sorta applies to this example, but from a stylistic point of view.
I plan on posting more samples from this set on my website in the featured section once they're ready for viewing!
Yay creativity,

Currently have 3 comments:

  1. I really like how you broke down your whole shoot and how you took something that you worked on a while back to where you are at to see how much you really have improved! I know i'm learning new things all the time, the person I was 6 months ago can't even touch the photographer I am these days! And all honesty I don't even feel like I'm even close to where I want to be! your work speaks for itself, you have a great eye for things I do like how you darkened the shadows and added the gradient to the mirror image, i think it really stylized this shoot. I hope you keep posting and growing! Keep up the great work!
    Kanoa Utler
    photographer, ninja

  2. Thank you, Kanoa! You are the very first comment I've received on my blog (yay!) hahaha. Your support is appreciated!


  3. I stumbled on your site through ModelMayhem. I too was bitten by the animation bug. I learned special effects cinematography on an Oxberry up in Portland, Ore. at Graphoons tackling 3D MAX but sticking with photography and video. Your energy is truly an inspiration! This job I have really eats into my creative time.....
    Jon Perry and

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