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Help me breakdown style!

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  #1  
Old 06-04-2013, 02:47 PM
danlandoni danlandoni is offline
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Help me breakdown style!

Okay, I've been having trouble achieving a certain "look" so I wanted to see if you guys can give me a hand!

Here is what I'm looking for. I love how there are shadows on both sides of face. Is he using black v-flats next to models? I've tried it but did not get similar results. Also, below are some of his lighting setups. Mixing constant (HMI???) with strobe. Even the location stuff is leaving me a little stumped. It seems simple, but even getting similar results while trying to match his retouching is giving me problems. Just can't get the look! Any ideas?

Here is some more of his work. http://forums.thefashionspot.com/f71...her-97623.html


http://i.imgur.com/tQeEMWZ.jpg

http://hcd-1.imgbox.com/ackgfFWW.jpg...w&e=1370377477

http://i.imgur.com/MwAAgbd.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/le5FQ9b.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/cATY9IY.png

Last edited by danlandoni; 06-04-2013 at 02:54 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-04-2013, 08:43 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

Black fiats still have a highly reflective surface coating. so they would still kick off stray light. The lights in things like eyes do give you some clues even if they are photoshopped. They suggest the primary light source is slightly high and rather centered as well as being small and not very diffused. This means unless you just nail it, you will probably have some smoothing work to do on skin where it brings out too much of a feeling of roughness at the surface. I think he did that here on the arms. The highlights appear accentuated, but the roughness is toned down and he spread them out slightly. The ones on the face are more untouched. I've seen that nearly out of the camera. I would probably just use channel mixer to even out skin colors.

The white background is roughly cut out. Note the blooming on the hair from it. Shadows are painted down as necessary. If you don't know how to paint cheekbones, grab a book on anatomy. It's the best way to learn. The eyes and primary shadow lines are probably traced down. They might not be, but that is how I would approach it if given this as a reference. Brows and lips appear to be treated differently too. I don't think the brows would hold that much weight if treated the same as the skin.

The next thing is the clothing. If I put that much saturation in clothing via an adjustment that would also affect the skintone equally, the skin would be orange. Because of that I think it got some individual color correction.

As a recap the first thing would be to establish the lighting so that highlights are appropriate in their topology and you have the necessary appearance of surface texture as they fall off. I would try to flag off stray lighting as much as possible. Going into post, start with primary corrections simply aimed at establishing some of the contrast. After that go into secondary details like eyes, hair, clothing, skin. Bear things in mind that would have helped at that post phase had you done them in the shoot. Feed those back into the next shoot, then repeat my comments on post work.

Do you have any examples of your attempts?
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  #3  
Old 06-04-2013, 10:55 PM
Flashtones Flashtones is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

I don't get the problem and guess work. You see he's mixing a hard frontal light with broad frontal fill. The processing seems to be little more than pushing the exposure and contrast.

Sure, maybe some local dodging and burning and HSL work, but those are just refinements, I'm sure the brunt of the look is done globally.
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:04 AM
danlandoni danlandoni is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

Thank you guys for the help!

Definitely cleared up some things for me. I'm going to do some test shots this weekend and I'll report back with the results. Practicing on painting down cheekbones now.
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Old 06-14-2013, 01:42 PM
danlandoni danlandoni is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

Reporting back!

Did some tests yesterday. What do you guys think?

http://i.imgur.com/cQirSty.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/dVlbGB9.jpg

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7388/9...de90d61e_o.jpg

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3790/9...d6017825_o.jpg

Last edited by danlandoni; 06-14-2013 at 02:30 PM.
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  #6  
Old 06-15-2013, 09:07 AM
kav kav is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

These look like starting points to me. I get the impression that you really shaded some of those cheeks. and around that collar. It needs more subtlety, and elements in my opinion need to feel balanced. I don't like that the grey shirt dominates his face, that I don't have definition where I expect it, of that the eyes really need some work. Seriously on eyes and cheeks, ake photos of people under all different lighting. Don't retouch them. Then get a good anatomy book with lots of muscle illustrations. You want to better understand what happens in these areas. The eyes don't feel focused and connected. The cheeks feel too painted over, as it doesn't play up to natural contours. If it's not painted, it's just an artifact of the light. I like definition though.

I don't like how the building in the background is so much more prominent than him on the outdoor shots. It's not so much like a plain background where you sometimes see saturated colors used to juxtapose the subject. In this case I would expect more atmospheric haze to flatten things out back there. Instead I end up looking past the subject too much. I also dislike the shirt caught on the belt. It's a tacky look. Once again I want to see some amount of shape as you come out of that highlight going into the orbicularis. I want the eyes to have more emphasis. It's well within what could be accomplished in the retouching phase. I want to see a skin palette that actually makes sense.

The complaint I have is that it's like you're trying too hard to emulate the other guy rather than trying to make good images. If it was me, I would do some eye retouching, get definition where I want it, get skin even enough by region without totally disregarding lighting, trace out those shadows, and bring the clothing and backgrounds in line with the overall style. I don't photograph people very often, but this stuff looks so obvious to me, as there are so many issues of visual balance. I'm not even looking at the original reference right now, just evaluating these on their own merits. I see a lot that could be better executed in terms of overall aesthetics.

If your skill is lacking on the post end, you might seek help with that. Certain aspects that I think you're trying to achieve would be very difficult without some post work considering the typical outputs of raw processors. I could probably get some of it keying out basic colors in capture one to tune the shadows, but it might be tough to get everything perfect. You'll never get just the right eye look without some post. You can get close if lighting is spot on, but that doesn't grant much movement on the part of your or the subject. It would be very restrictive if you're going for a lot of energy in the shot.

Do you work with 2 displays at all? If I'm using any kind of reference, I keep it on a second display. I only access that one with a mouse so it doesn't make my tablet behave weird. It's important to be able to break down some of these details one by one, but you also need a sense for visual cues in general.

Last edited by kav; 06-15-2013 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 06-15-2013, 10:06 AM
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HeavyTheory HeavyTheory is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

I'm with Flashtones on this. The OP is asking about lighting in this case, not retouching. The hard contrast look he's getting is apparent enough from the shots if you are a shooter, but much more obvious from the behind the scenes shots. He's mixing HMI (constant lighting, like on a video set) and I only see the one overhead small strobe with a grid held directly above the camera. In one shot he is using most likely 80 inch Octaboxes, which may be strobes, and in another you see HMI's bounced into white V boards.

That explains really just about everything, just seeing the lighting.

1. The strobe is coming from a few feet above the zero axis, so shadows are coming from the center and giving that strange halo effect around the hair.
2. The studio shots are also a bit overexposed and shot on white which I find destroys the soft edge detail of loose hair. I doubt there is much, or any hair retouching happening.
3. That also explains the shadowed look on their cheeks. A small gridded strobe does a lot of scraping as it falls off, so you get a lot of harsh transitions falling into shadow.
4. Since the direct light is overexposed the skin detail of the subject is basically lost and in a way that negates doing heavy handed skin work - the detail is gone from the outset.


I don't think there is much going on here other than what is apparent in the lighting and from a retouching standpoint, I doubt it is much more than playing with an S curve(maybe even brightness/contrast) and adjusting saturation levels and a warm white balance.
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Old 06-15-2013, 10:23 AM
Flashtones Flashtones is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

I think you're headed in a good direction. Your key light is probably a bit closer and higher axised than his, giving broader, more exaggerated shadows, but nothing wrong with that.

Down and Dirty retouching (i.e. globally), I increased midtone & shadow contrast, subtracted red and added yellow.
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Old 06-15-2013, 11:12 AM
danlandoni danlandoni is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

You guys are awesome and have been a huge help! Do you have any suggestions for an anatomy book?

Thank looks really good Flashtones. Matches very well on my computer.

I agree with you Kav. I think I'm trying too much to match his style. Although I'll admit that it has forced me to try new techniques and work harder in my post work, which is a good thing. You pretty much called every thing I did, and didn't touch on them. Going back and shooting two girls tomorrow. Ill be reporting back again. Thanks!

Last edited by danlandoni; 06-15-2013 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 06-16-2013, 02:38 AM
kav kav is offline
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Re: Help me breakdown style!

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeavyTheory View Post
I'm with Flashtones on this. The OP is asking about lighting in this case, not retouching. The hard contrast look he's getting is apparent enough from the shots if you are a shooter, but much more obvious from the behind the scenes shots. He's mixing HMI (constant lighting, like on a video set) and I only see the one overhead small strobe with a grid held directly above the camera. In one shot he is using most likely 80 inch Octaboxes, which may be strobes, and in another you see HMI's bounced into white V boards.

That explains really just about everything, just seeing the lighting.

1. The strobe is coming from a few feet above the zero axis, so shadows are coming from the center and giving that strange halo effect around the hair.
2. The studio shots are also a bit overexposed and shot on white which I find destroys the soft edge detail of loose hair. I doubt there is much, or any hair retouching happening.
3. That also explains the shadowed look on their cheeks. A small gridded strobe does a lot of scraping as it falls off, so you get a lot of harsh transitions falling into shadow.
4. Since the direct light is overexposed the skin detail of the subject is basically lost and in a way that negates doing heavy handed skin work - the detail is gone from the outset.


I don't think there is much going on here other than what is apparent in the lighting and from a retouching standpoint, I doubt it is much more than playing with an S curve(maybe even brightness/contrast) and adjusting saturation levels and a warm white balance.
Have you ever looked at lighting test frames compared to when the subject steps in? Typically subjects don't remain still, and you have little leverage when you want something specific. I guarantee there's a certain amount of post work there. Arm and shoulder muscles aren't one consistent bulge, as they would need to be to produce those highlight shapes on the first one. You would have required post work to hold that lip color against the skin adjustments, and the eyebrows would have gone weird without some attention to detail. The jewelry colors are super specific in that one. That you see the basis for the lighting there (I do too) doesn't mean details were not adjusted later. It's just so obvious looking at it where they probably started when shot compared to where they are in the end. I'm amazed you can't spot some of the obvious corrections and outliers. Since you mentioned the hair, you can see a bit of grey behind some of it. They likely cut it out.

Summarizing that I can spot things that would be out of place if this was straight from the camera. Small lights like the one at the top are not kind to any movement from the subjects. We don't know the OP's budget or resources. I'm guessing less than the photographer being referenced. Expecting lighting to be just perfect on a non-stationary subject is generally unrealistic if you want some amount of energy in the shot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by danlandoni View Post
You guys are awesome and have been a huge help! Do you have any suggestions for an anatomy book?

Thank looks really good Flashtones. Matches very well on my computer.

I agree with you Kav. I think I'm trying too much to match his style. Although I'll admit that it has forced me to try new techniques and work harder in my post work, which is a good thing. You pretty much called every thing I did, and didn't touch on them. Going back and shooting two girls tomorrow. Ill be reporting back again. Thanks!
You know I have yet to find a perfect one. fineart.sk has a lot of reference. Books are good as I mentioned, yet the downside that I should have mentioned is that they're expensive and often lacking enough variety. Even just finding illustrations on google can be helpful. Much of it is just identifying landmarks and locations of structure, so that viewers don't feel like something is missing. There are a lot of parts to photos where I'll look and my eyes just get stuck in a particular spot due to lack of gradation or detail. It's fairly common toward the outer regions of the forehead or around the nose.

Trying to emulate too closely isn't a great idea, especially when you need to think in terms of the resources you have available. Hard shadows do need small lights, but there is nothing wrong with applying some amount of finishing if you accomplished everything that was realistically possible in camera.
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