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DPChallenge Forums >> Individual Photograph Discussion >> First official model shoot with Alien Bees
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07/15/2005 01:34:45 PM · #1
Hello everyone. I have been fairly absent from dpc lately. I haven't submitted to a challenge since the end of May. I was trying to learn as much as I could about potrait photography, and decided to focus on that for awhile, which meant not submitting to any challenges. We all know how addicting these challenges become, and I know they would have distracted me from portrait lighting.

So after gathering 1x 800 and 1x 400 Alien Bee and a lot of other equipment, I finally had my first official photo shoot on Tuesday. I met one of these girls on myspace.com, and she agreed to do a TFCD shoot, and even brought her roommate with her who also wanted to model for me!

It went far better than I could have predicted. I know I have a lot more to learn (and a few more lights to purchase), but I just wanted to post them and get everyone's feedback. Feel free to ask questions.

Thanks everyone. I'll try to submit to a few challenges again soon.

Jeff

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07/15/2005 01:41:58 PM · #2
very good. looks like you prefer short and rembrandt style lighting
07/15/2005 04:52:25 PM · #3
Come on...95 views and 1 reply! Nobody has any constructive criticism for any of these photos?

I need to get better people, and I need your help!

Message edited by author 2005-07-15 16:52:48.
07/15/2005 05:02:44 PM · #4
First of all, I know nothing, so take my comments with a grain of salt (or a shot of Pepto).

The focus is too soft for my taste. In some cases (like the shots of the girl in white), it almost looks like camera shake.

I like the lighting in most of the shots. Love the backlit shot with the blinds. That would be very sexy if her shirt wasn't so obvious.

Poses need a little work, maybe. Nothing all that exciting there, but everybody starts at the beginning, right?

I really like 3 shots; the girl pulling her shirt, the corset from behind, and the blinds.

Hope that helps.
07/15/2005 05:04:13 PM · #5
What's up with the purple tint? Especially the ones with the white background.
07/15/2005 05:13:01 PM · #6
could you give us an idea of how you had the space set up? that would be helpful to me.
07/15/2005 05:18:13 PM · #7
I agree with aronya1 and faidoi.

I also feel they are a little on the soft side and the poses, while not bad, don't pop either. I also see the color cast that faidoi mentioned.

To compare ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204129.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204129.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' and ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204130.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204130.jpg', '/') + 1) . '...

The blond looks very uncomfortable and has an awkward look on her face. Her expression doesn't match the pose. The dark haired girl has a fun expression and I think it works 100 times better than the other image.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204137.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204137.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' - Not a bad shot but I don't care for the make-up...it's distracting.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204134.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204134.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' - This is very nice. It looks like her face is a bit shadowed though...?

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204133.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204133.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' - For this one I would like to see the focus on her corset. I wouldn't include her shoulder and I would get her hand out of there. If it were a man's hand I think I would like it but it just seems odd to me to see a woman's hand there...I know it's her own but because the rest of the scene is out of the picture it just looks strange. Might just be me. :-D

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204135.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204135.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' - Love this one! Terrific lighting! I'd agree with aronya1 that the only thing to make this better/sexier would be to keep her shirt from being so obvious.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204138.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/32265/thumb/204138.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' - Again, the girl on the left just doesn't seem as comfortable and natural as the girl on the right. This shot also seems dark.

Maybe play with brightness/contrast a bit on most of these...?

Also, as aronya1 said...I'm no expert so take the above as you wish.

- Jen
07/15/2005 05:20:23 PM · #8
Originally posted by faidoi:

What's up with the purple tint? Especially the ones with the white background.


I see what your talking about, although I have to view the picture on my monitor (LCD) at extreem angles to reallly get a sense for how purple the tint actually is. You might want to try some color correction on these, though I don't know alot about studio work so I have no idea what would cause this.

My personal oppinion - I don't know if you did any PP on these yet or not, but alot of them are pretty flat. The blacks and whites in the image dont really pop out. Here is an example I just did if you want to compare:
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1) An "Auto Color" in PS fixed the purple tint
2) Adjusted levels - Brought right and left side in to the edge of the first spike.
3) Upped contrast +5

A question I have...have you built up your own studio room? And if so, what did you use for a backdrop/where did you get it?
07/15/2005 05:23:29 PM · #9
That looks great bfox2! The colors are much better.

Side by side:
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07/15/2005 05:27:33 PM · #10
Some of them are too soft, almost as if the focus wasn't quite there.
07/15/2005 09:02:06 PM · #11
This one is the most natural looking shot of this model. It stands out for me.
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Its a great example of catching a natural expression on someone who is feeling a bit tense, as the other photos of her would indicate. Keep up the good work.
07/16/2005 12:05:35 AM · #12
Well thanks to everyone who chimed in to help me out. As for the color issues (aka purple tint), all I can say is monitor calibration. I look at these on my home computer, and then at my work computer, and they look very different. Something I will have to address soon.

Some people asked about the setup and studio. It was actually done in the living room of my friend BrianTheChemist (who I met through dpc). I have a portable backdrop stand that extends to 10' wide. At this shoot, I only had 4' wide gray, black, and white seamless paper. But I have another shoot scheduled for Wednesday, July 27th, and I hope to have 9' paper by then. That's why there are no wide shots in these.

As for equipment: I had one AB 800, one AB 400, a 20" x 30" softbox, a 20 degree grid, 5-in-1 reflector disc, and a boom arm. I did notice that I never added hairlight to any of these shots. That will change next week.

And as for the posing comments: I did the best I could. Yes, it was very obvious that the dark haired girl was more relaxed. And the funny this was that I contacted the other girl. The dark haired girl was the roommate she brought with her!

So thanks again for the comments. I will try to work on grabbing a better focus. It's just hard for the camera to focus when only the modeling light is on. Anyone else have a problem with that? OK, keep them coming.

Jeff
07/16/2005 05:47:54 AM · #13
This is all really neat to see.. I've been climbing the same learning curve over the last year, although I've not gone down the full scale 'studio' path yet, although I have access to a friends studio, and find it an amazing experience when I can get time in there...

Originally posted by jeffzoet:

I will try to work on grabbing a better focus. It's just hard for the camera to focus when only the modeling light is on. Anyone else have a problem with that? OK, keep them coming.


You're not alone on this one. Asside from getting a camera with more sensitive focus system, your best idea is to run the key light modelling light at full brightness, or add another hot light.

This isn't a problem in terms of exposure, as a 200W or so incandescent should give you enough light to focus with, but will not show up in your photos, unless it shows in a catch light or direct reflection on something shiny..

You can check by using the light meter (I assume you have one, as you've nailed the exposure on these shots?) and checking the 'ambient' exposure from your modelling lights and the 'focus light' in your setup vs the strobe exposure. If you've got 5 or more stops difference you'll never see the effect of the focus lights. This is the same basis that the modelling lights work on as well, they are far dimmer than the strobe itself, so never effect the colour temp/white balance of your shots.

Thanks for sharing..

Cheers, Me.


07/16/2005 09:09:45 AM · #14
Originally posted by jeffzoet:

Come on...95 views and 1 reply! Nobody has any constructive criticism for any of these photos?

I need to get better people, and I need your help!


OMG, at first I thought that was a put down to your first critque person, then I realized YOU need to get better not that you need better people critiquing you! LOL!!!

Anyway my fav is the one of the model in the corset with both hands behind her head. I like the rich tones.

Message edited by author 2005-07-16 09:10:39.
07/16/2005 10:33:14 AM · #15
I like this one best. To me it reprensents feminine strength and wouldn't be nearly as good without the hand in the picture. But reading the other comment about the black pants, I think it would have been even better without them. A little string thong with a ribbon on the side would have been perfect! But, since this was your first set with the model, I can understand why the pants are in the picture. Still a very well taken picture.
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this is the one I was talking about.

Message edited by author 2005-07-16 10:34:00.
07/16/2005 11:06:34 AM · #16
Those are excellent shots! You did a very good job. Looks like the models were happy too. Way to go!
07/16/2005 11:38:34 AM · #17
I think, since this is a first experience, that it's a good start...it would have benifited from a 3rd unit for hair/backlights but all and all, pretty good.

I do recommend spending a lot more energy on composition and model direction... doing several outfits in one sitting is a big no-no and doing two models...well that's just insane! I think that concentrating on one model with at most 2 outfits is the best way to produce quality work as the relationship with the model will become more intimate and more constructive.
07/16/2005 01:20:09 PM · #18

I have to say, it was pretty hectic. We had two models, two photographers (including me), and my girlfriend who is uneasy about the whole "me taking pictures of hot women" thing.

It might be nice to slow things down. Thanks for the advice. However this week's models are all excited with apparently a lot of outfits. I am scheduling another shoot with just me a one model, no other interuptions, so that might be the opportunity to focus a lot more on the little things without four other people there.

Anybody have tips on getting bett with posing women? I have some books, as well as cutouts from magazines, but when you're in the middle of it, you can't stop and look at your references. You have to be able to do it on the fly.
07/16/2005 01:54:19 PM · #19
well...you first need to learn that less clicks and better directions make better pics...

That means that there is not "gettin in the middle of it". you stop. you think, you look and you shoot... if you get 10 great shots out of a shoot... why not pre-visualize these 10 shots and work only on those "artistic visions"? why take 1000shots if in the end there will be only 10 great ones?! seriously, you have to remind yourself that YOU are the creative vision and therefore YOU control the pace, the mindset and the artistry of the session... you are not an employee.

I know that it can become exiting and that you can become a bit over anxious...but you must remind yourself that 990 wasted shots are 990 moments when you could have been setting up you 10 great shots

when I do commercial advertisement shoots...we spend 10 hours....and I'll only do about 50shots...from which only 1 will be used.
07/16/2005 03:16:37 PM · #20
I've only played with portraiture (if I can even call it that) on family and friends. I have no 'studio'...so use only outdoor lighting. I find it difficult to come up with unique and fun poses. I notice that most of these shots appear to be at eye level. How about shooting up at them from the floor and down at them from a small ladder? It requires minimal effort and it can give some great perspectives that you wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Maybe another way to practice would be to use Monica (who is a pretty girl herself and shouldn't be worried about your models!), go through your books or the net and practice different poses and perspectives that you'd like to try a day or so before the real shoot. That way you'll both be very comfortable with one another, you won't feel rushed, and you can concentrate and practice more on the important stuff.

How about a pre-shoot meeting with the model? Maybe just hang out over a coffee/soda and chat. Get an idea of what they are looking for, i.e. casual, sexy, artistic, etc. Ask them to bring some example, maybe? I dunno...just a little meeting to act as an icebreaker to help you both be more relaxed on the day of the shoot.

Message edited by author 2005-07-16 15:18:20.
07/16/2005 04:23:08 PM · #21
Hey Jeff,

I went through all of these photos individually and in my opinion they are all pretty good. I think the challenge now is to push beyond good. You are well beyond the snapshot realm and the bar seems to get very high very quick. I don't think I have produced results better than these, but I will offer my opinion of what might help.

First, follow Gil P's advice, less picks and better directions makes better pics. Clicking fast is fun and will get you a lot of 'good' shots, but you need amazing not just good. Move around and work with the model until you get a natural facial expression that will draw the viewer in. I am personally not good at giving direction on facial expressions or poses, but I will talk and try to describe a sceneria so the model can try to fill the role I am describing. Usually I will try to set up this scenerio before the shooting starts.

Don't depend on your monitor for color calibration. Shot something white then set a custom white balance and don't change it. After setting a custom white balance shoot a calibration card with black, gray, and white surfaces. You can then use this frame to at least get a solid base setting for your levels adjustments. Maybe somebody has a more professional approach, but doing at least this minimum will save you hour of frustration in the area of color correction.

I'll go back through and leave a couple of comments on the individual images.
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