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Mystical Aura

Jamie Maldonado is an amazing editorial photographer based out in East Texas. He submitted this image for the picture of the day.

“This is a lesson in waiting for the right time, and in continuing to shoot when the light is not as obviously attractive as earlier in sunset.

I wanted to work on blending artificial light with daylight in a more natural way to create drama. The flash is a LumoPro LP160 in a Joe McNally Lastolite soft box, which has quickly become one of my favorite modifiers. It looks spectacular, especially when you can get it close, as it is in this photo. Laney (my model) was instructed only to wear a flowing dress, and she showed up in the perfect outfit. I enjoy the cooler tones mixing in with the warmth of the ground, and balancing with the cooler sky. The soft ambient light helped really make the grass and weeds look magical to me.

I began editing in Lightroom 4, and everything kind of popped out from there. I underexposed the ambient, which allowed me to really bring out some beautiful, soft, qualities in it. There were likely several spot adjustments, and then I brought it into Photoshop CS6 to finish. The key to most of my images is that I don’t just do broad adjustments. I get in areas and fine tune. I do curves on faces, grass, skies, arms, dresses, etc. It’s like being in the darkroom with black and white printing, dodging and burning each area to perfection. Just there’s more fine control in Photoshop, so I take advantage. I’d have to say the final product is surprisingly close to my initial RAW file, which I find pleasing because of the painterly quality that naturally occurred.

I could perhaps say she is looking out of the photo, but maybe she’s looking forward, confidently awaiting something. I enjoy the mystery of this photo. Also, it’s unclear if she’s kneeing or standing in tall grass. It all lends a mystical aura to this image.

The camera is a Nikon D700 with at 1/80, f/8 and 200 ISO. The flash was probably about half power.” - Jamie Maldonado

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