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Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

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  #1  
Old 10-25-2012, 01:02 AM
Shot4Shot Shot4Shot is offline
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Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

I'm a photographer, and like many...am trying to break into the industry. Being that I don't currently have the luxury of hiring a top level post production team, I am finding that investing more of my time learning the editing would be extremely worthwhile. I know many people say, there are no secrets, and it's just years of experience...but I know many photographers that closely hide and will never reveal their lighting setups, and similarly, post prod houses that lock tons of layers and hold very closely their edits. I do think there's a lot to be said about that but I don't want to start a debate about it here...secrets or no secrets, let's go over the ANATOMY if you will of a high level shoot.

Coming from the photography side, I know first hand the level of planning that goes into the shot, which can be just as much if not more than the time spent in post. Anyhow here's what I see, but I'd love people to chime in and add, specifically on the post side.

Pre-Production:
- A Great level of good location scouting for the story that is being told
- Beautiful models working with the best makeup artists, hair stylists, art directors, etc. with a lot of attention to detail...no lipstick bleeding, hairs out of place, etc.
- Amazing Clothes...obviously, tailored and pinned with every fold strategically placed
- A huge attention to styling...from carefully choosing the props to the colors of the props themselves (notice how all of the colors in all of these images either compliment or are in perfect contrast). The props play a very important role, to make the shot interesting but not over bearing. You even have to think about their materiels/reflectiveness/etc.. Are we using a wooden lamp (is that what the set calls for?) or a crystal/reflective lamp - which is going to give a nice crispness/pop to the shot but may be too distracting.
- Often a good amount of pre-planning and perfecting the light PRIOR to the model arriving, so no time is wasted
- Lighting: HOW are we lighting the shot? Specular vs diffused. Very soft tonal transitions or sharp edged shadows and from where? Natural light vs strobes? It seems as though flat lighting is very common today....not a lot of shadows or drastic falloff...it's exactly wat we're told NOT to do when in school, but if I look at 10 magazine covers (Interview and maybe W aside), I'm betting 8 or 9 of them will be extremely flat with a very soft diffused shadow if any. It also looks like on-axis fill is a common one.
- I'm sure I'm missing a bunch here, but it's late so that's where I'm going to stop on this

Now here's where I'm a bit lost. Here are some images that I thought were good examples. While they are obviously very different style wise, you can also tell that they all share those few special characteristics which make them more Vogue like, and less Model Mayhem like. Here are the few that I notice fairly often:

Post:
- As in the above, the color palette plays a huge role...All of those colors are either very complimentary to each other or in perfect contrast - I forgot the whole color theory rule
- Very desaturated/white/pink skin tones (often couples with more blue shadows, which brings me to
- Split toning. I might be completely wrong here, but it looks as though there is a lot of split toning going on as well (with possibly 3rd or 4th colors brought in for the midtones)
- Lots of Selective adjustments - from selective sharpening to selective contrast, etc. You really have to study the images, but when you really look, you can see that certain parts are sharper while others are softer and some are more contrasty while others are less. And I understand lighting, so I'm speaking lighting aside.
- "Fashion Sharpening" - does anyone know which method is used to sharpen on a high end level. It's a strange mix, of ever so slightly blurry yet still very sharp. You notice it most in the eyes/hair/jewelry/accessories.
- "Fashion Desaturation" - just like the above, I'm almost positive they use a very particular process. Maybe it's a combo of using RGB, CMYK and LAB??? But again, if you look closely, you'll notice the colors are desaturated but they still manage to maintain a good saturation in the process (if that makes any sense!). It looks like there's also a slight luminance or gama adjustment that seems to accompany it.

What do you guys/girls think? Is there anything you can add? Any specific techniques, etc. that you suspect or KNOW they use? And if so, how to achieve them? Or any shortcuts to get a CLOSE result (b/c let's be honest...not many of us have can afford to spend 10+ hours on one image!). Sorry, I should have used examples with the attached images. Aannnddd I'm falling asleep....so I'm gonna top there. Good night (/morning?)
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:58 AM
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oneredpanther oneredpanther is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

Quote:
(b/c let's be honest...not many of us have can afford to spend 10+ hours on one image!
So what you want is a shortcut that will produce the same result as those who can afford to spend 10+ hours on one image?

The reason it takes 10+ hours is because there is no shortcut.

You can't become a world class chef if you only have time to cook for 15 minutes in the evening. Sorry.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:01 AM
Shot4Shot Shot4Shot is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

Sorry, I should have been clearer. I know there's no shortcut for experience and many meticulous hours. What I meant was, let's go over the image characteristics and techniques used/suspected....as well as IF there are any shortcuts - I know there are some techniques that can get be usefull given limited time (freq sep/high pass for skin smoothing, etc). That said, I am more concerned with getting there than getting there quickly.
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Old 10-25-2012, 09:39 AM
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Cupcake Cupcake is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

Try
http://kelbytraining.com/
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:13 PM
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Mike Needham Mike Needham is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

I love this forum. Sometimes for all the wrong reasons
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Old 10-25-2012, 10:45 PM
Shot4Shot Shot4Shot is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

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Originally Posted by Mike Needham View Post
I love this forum. Sometimes for all the wrong reasons
Nah.....no wrong reason to love this forum.

I've been playing around with trying to get that common high fashion desaturated look....it seems that bringing the image over to LAB and reducing the colors in the A and B give a more flattering result. Does anyone know if this is more a more commonplace approach? Or does it vary too much image to image?
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:02 AM
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AKMac AKMac is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

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Originally Posted by Shot4Shot View Post
Nah.....no wrong reason to love this forum.

I've been playing around with trying to get that common high fashion desaturated look....it seems that bringing the image over to LAB and reducing the colors in the A and B give a more flattering result. Does anyone know if this is more a more commonplace approach? Or does it vary too much image to image?
I can't understand why that would make any difference, since saturation doesn't exist in the L channel, and the Mode conversion is invisible.
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:27 AM
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Benny Profane Benny Profane is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

I don't get it. When I open Vogue, I see all sorts of stuff, not this one look that you are trying to replicate. Just find a style for yourself, and do it. The hard part is finding an editor who thinks you're worth the money, right?
It's good that you are aware of the whole process here. That will get you far. Most photographers either are too lazy or don't have the time to explore the post production world. Hell, some think they can get that done by paying retouchers barista level hourly wages.

Oh, and please, stay away from Scott Kelby. You want to be a pro, right?
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:03 AM
Shot4Shot Shot4Shot is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

Lol. I'm familiar with Kelby...I do like Dan Margulis and Lynda though, I think they're pretty helpful. Or am I still adrift?

I don't want to be a retoucher per say....I'd like to focus on my photography, but I think as most photographers find themselves (at least until they are getting the big assignments), sometimes it makes sense to learn and do it yourself. So to that degree, I don't mind learning properly and putting in the "x" number of hours. Especially for those images that deserve it.

That said, I know there are a lot of different styles (and moods, and stories, etc) so I don't want to get caught up in "how to immitate this style" or "demistify that" as much as I have found those threads interesting. I'm taking about techniques and trends! If I asked you to recreate a fashion mag spread from the 80's or 90's you probably wouldn't have a problem doing so, because there were strong trends/styles of the time. Some could probably even distinguish Vogue vs Harpers Bazaar becase of their diff art directors/direction. So what I'm trying to identify here are the trends and general technique of today. Meaning, what should I be aware of that the average non-pro retoucher otherwise might not? (lots of local adjustments via multiple curves, lots of attention/sharpening specifically in the clothing, desatured skin tones). Fashion poses are a good example....there are countless poses but in GENERAL, moreso than not, they tend to: elongate the body, be more serious, be very engaging/dramatic, be shot with a longer focal length to flatten and flatter the face, not revolve around being sexy. Does that make more sense? It would have helped if my attachments actually attached!!
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:22 AM
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Benny Profane Benny Profane is offline
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Re: Let's analyze/compare Vogue level fashion ed's

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Originally Posted by Shot4Shot View Post
I don't want to be a retoucher per say....I'd like to focus on my photography, but I think as most photographers find themselves (at least until they are getting the big assignments), sometimes it makes sense to learn and do it yourself. So to that degree, I don't mind learning properly and putting in the "x" number of hours. Especially for those images that deserve it.
Well, either partner up with a retoucher, and, I mean partner (and that means pay them well or give equity in the business), if you don't want to do it yourself, or develop a style that is easily manipulated and don't whine and moan when an editor takes your stuff and hands it off to a retoucher to get a final look. Don't worry, in 97% of cases, you will get the credit for the final image, and the retoucher will remain a mystery to those who don't matter to him/her. What matters to him/her is the respect of those who hire them and the check in the mail. Hell, you'll even be able to show this stuff in your portfolio as though you alone created the image. Re: Annie Leibovitz, just to name one.
As far as styles, well, please, just look and see. Nobody is going to tell you how it's done. Sometimes I think that this forum is populated by a bunch of blind people, with their "How do I get this look" thing. Sheesh.
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