A few months back, I mentioned that I had been given an exclusive invitation to spy on the Shoot The Centerfold seminar in Miami. This much celebrated glamour photography event features the pinnacle of models and educators in the genre, and goes down twice a year alternating between Miami, FL and freaking Santorini, Greece or some other insanely exotic location.
Articles written by Nino Batista
The iconic AlienBee has been one of the most popular strobe units ever since their debut in 2001, and for good reason. Developed to be the perfect balance of price and quality (which is something that's tricky to pull off in the world of gear) their reputation spread quickly. Sure, you can always spend many, many, many thousands of dollars on studio lights in order attain top quality equipment, but it's never been easy purchasing a strobe rig when more restrained budgets are a concern. Enter Paul C. Buff.
If there is one comment I hear the absolute most at my studio lighting workshops, it's "Nino, I need to learn studio lighting. That stuff is hard. I'm a natural light portrait shooter and that's much easier." This is a statement I could not disagree with more, and here's why.
It's been a long time coming, but today's episode of my weekly web series, The Backyard, finds my co-host Staci and myself reviewing our three favorite edits from (what I dubbed) the Dani Diamond Experiment, posted almost two months ago. I allowed you all to download a raw file I shot of Staci in Miami and let you loose on it to retouch it as you saw fit. The results? Let's take a look.
After receiving almost 300 submissions to my previous raw file challenge (inspired by Dani's post last year), I decided to cap the entries at 200, because why not, and also put out a second raw file and an all new challenge. This time, with a shot of model Anna Truett, shot inside the Union Station Hotel convention area in St. Louis.
Recently I babbled on and on about shadow and highlight recovery using raw data in Capture One Pro, something I still fully endorse and recommend you do in your post production work when recovery is needed or wanted. However, feedback and practical thinking made me create a simple Photoshop Action that sets up one of my more common methods for simple shadow recovery, but in a refined and manual way.
I am calling this the "Dani Diamond Experiment", because he has done this before, and I thought the end results were fascinating. See, Dani's been known to offer a totally unedited raw file of an image he shot as a free download, asking photographers and retouchers to have a go at finalizing the shot however they see fit. Rather than specifically ask anyone to retouch the image in any particular style or use any particular workflow, the idea is to simply offer the raw file with no instructions beyond "Edit it!" and see what happens.
One of my favorite little quips to drop on my workshop attendees is "Did you know that models are, as it turns out, human?", which usually just yields a few chuckles. But the truth is, that is just my lead in and my way of sarcastically reminding model photographers that fashion and glamour models have opinions, preferences, and emotions as much as anyone else. Which is sadly something that seems to be overlooked in the often callus industries of fashion and glamour. To that end, I invited some Texas based pro models to sit down with Staci and I discuss the industry.
Recently, during my annual trek to Las Vegas for WPPI (wherein I arrive in the city of sin and proceed to actively avoid going to the actual expo because I book too many other things), I found myself in the deserts outside of Vegas with a Sony A7RII, a few bits of glorious Zeiss glass, no modifiers or lighting of any kind, and Renee Robyn as my model. Welp, guess it was time to see what Sony's dynamic range claims were truly about then.
Late last year, Playboy magazine announced that starting this month, March 2016, the publication would no longer - simply enough - feature nudity. This announcement was immediately received as shocking, welcomed, amazing, derided or just plain hated, depending on who you asked. Curious as to the impetus behind the format change, I asked Jarmo Pohjaniemi about it when we spoke recently, and have since heard from another Playboy master lensist, Ales Bravnicar, about the matter. Bravnicar and I also discussed his phenomenal career and his upcoming retrospective in an upcoming international Playboy edition.
Full disclosure: Creating this Action goes against many things I've stated in the past, including and especially my whole idea that "No Action should create effects for you". That said, with the huge influx of Action requests that I've been receiving, I reasoned this particular one is steeped wholly enough into "procedure" that it could possibly make a decent (and useful) automatic process. As such, let's have a look at my Soft Flare FX Action.
So I've been posting more and more of the Actions I've been making and using lately, and this afternoon is no different. While today's Action creates a subtle effect, and may not be something everyone likes, I am posting about it because it's a process I use pretty frequently. Sure, it's not for every image, but sometimes it just does the trick. Let's review what it's all about.
Nothing could be simpler than increasing contrast of your image in Photoshop, right? But as is my usual, I prefer control over convenience and take my contrast boosting a little more seriously than perhaps I should. In the interest of bringing some convenience back into the matter, I've created an Action for you to try out which showcases my most common contrast boosting method.
Sharpening your images in post has been discussed time and again in every manner of tutorial under the sun, and everyone has a preferred method that works for them. For me, I found I enjoy the look of a partial sharpen done with the classic high pass filter (and requisite blending mode) along with an appropriate luminosity mask to blend it where I want it. These days I've gone and made an Action for the process that seems to work for about 80% of my images. Let's review it.
Black and white photography may well be the ultimate classical expression of the art form, after all it is how photography started. It's still a continually popular aesthetic, even now well into the digital age. However, black and white images, in my opinion, should be simply more than the removal of color. Thankfully many thousands of photographers and designers agree with that, and the usage of black and white conversion methods and approaches is prevalent in the post production world.
Despite having grown up around photography all my life (thanks, dad) and then starting my own commercial portrait business in 2009, there is one small little thing I'd never done before, silly as it sounds. I have never, ever shot in snow. Born in the Caribbean in 1975, then briefly living in Miami before settling down in Houston in 1979, I have truly never experienced real snow. But all that changed for me recently in Salt Lake City and Albuquerque - in January.
I admit it freely: I didn't used to pay attention or care about portrait lighting patterns. In fact, when a photographer would mention them around me, I would cover my ears and say "La la la la la" as loudly as possible while hurriedly trying to leave the room. There was a time where dismissing the standards was my usual, as was my tendency, but eventually I realized I was missing out on fundamentals that I could easily have built on and expanded rather than ignored. Just starting out? Don't make my mistakes.
If you work in portrait photography, be it commercial fashion or high school seniors or anything in between, at some point you will be on set with makeup artists (MUA) and hair stylists, if you aren't already. A good makeup artist can make or break your sessions, and a bad one can simply ruin everything. And since no amount of retouching can totally undo subpar makeup, hair, and styling, Staci and I decided to sit down with pro makeup artist Sarah Stafford in The Backyard to shed some light on the relationship between MUAs and photographers.
Over a year ago, after having discovered his work a year before that, I felt it necessary to introduce Fstoppers' readers to photographer K. R. Whitley, the world traveling wilderness/landscape and urbex artist. Since then, Whitley has traveled even more and expanded his work in some bold, new directions. I brazenly invited him to an interview at my house, and thankfully he agreed.
Make no mistake, Shoot The Centerfold is the most exclusive and well respected glamour and model photography seminar on the planet. And as it turns out, this year I've been invited to see everything that goes on at STC, both up front and behind the curtain, in what will be an exclusive insider view on this most revered of photo events. Oh, and I might be a little bit excited about it.