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Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

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  • Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

    If you look at the two samples I've attached (Marco Grob pictures) there is a certain skin style applied, super detailed, "shiny", metallic, 3 dimensionally shaped. I love the depth and dimension it gives. There is curvature everywhere, never flatness. How can I emulate this? It's more than highpass sharpening.

    I know lighting has a lot to do with it. I have some portraits with similar lighting but I don't get this metallic, detailed look.

    Please help.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by michaelbs; 11-17-2014, 08:36 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

    First understand, while it's all by design, some of it is serendipity. On his site you see a lot of other portraits that are handled similarly but the skin doesn't react quite the same way. So some is due to the characteristics of the skin itself.

    Beyond that, it requires good lenses shot at small enough apertures to give good depth of field but not so small as to give diffraction.

    Then in PS, there is some sharpening, of course. There's also a crap ton of contrast. And localized contrast. Notice, as a rule ,his blacks are crushed, or on the precipice thereof.

    What I'd do is start with a strong global curve (or the contrast tool of your choice) with an eye toward getting that skin to shine. Don't worry about the blacks. Then mask that curve back locally where you want to retain some detail in the blacks. Then I'd add a second curve with more contrast/brightness toward the bright end of the scale, and paint that in to the areas of the face you want to pop more, like forehead and cheeks. Then you might want to do another curve tailored to lifting the blacks, and paint that in where necessary. (See Tom Brokaw's suit as an example). Then another darkening curve to bring back shirt collars that got blown out, etc. Another curve to lift eye sockets, etc. (See Bill Clinton's face.)

    It's a series of local contrast adjustments, each area gets it's own treatment (via masks). Hold back the adjustments where too strong, then target the same area with it's own custom adjustment. Drive the viewers eye to the areas that contain the most detail, contrast and importance.

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    • #3
      Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

      Thanks Flashtones. What you suggest I already do, different ways of contouring, dodging and burning to get depth but I fail to obtain the metallic/shiny and super detailed skin.
      I was thinking that there might be some lowering red channel/increasing blue channel going on? Overlaying blue channel or something along those lines?

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      • #4
        Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

        there's a million ways to skin a cat. you can certainly make a channel mix adj layer, set it to monochrome, raise the green and blue channels (i recommend more green than blue) and lower red to increase contrast/detail. But you'll still have to do a lot of local D&B.

        really, you can get as complicated with this stuff as you want. all i can tell you is this has been done since the days of 8x10 film. no PS fu involved.

        see the work of irving penn, richard avededon, yousef karsh, etc.

        it really does start with the light. and if you're doing all the D&B and it's still not happening, id guess you're probably being too subtle. this kind of contrast is not for the faint of heart.

        this was done really fast and sloppily while on the job, but it gives a sense. i used the simplest tools i could: HSL to desaturate and master channel curves in normal mode. basic photoshop...with a heavy hand.

        i'm assuming this shot is in the public domain:
        http://www.defense.gov/home/features...bama-portrait/
        Attached Files

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        • #5
          Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

          Here it is larger. Again, forgive how sloppily it was done.
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Flashtones; 11-17-2014, 03:45 PM.

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          • #6
            Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

            Flashtones gave you the answer: shading.

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            • #7
              Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

              I think Flashtones pretty much nailed it with:
              Originally posted by Flashtones View Post
              Beyond that, it requires good lenses shot at small enough apertures to give good depth of field but not so small as to give diffraction.
              Back in 2009-2010 Marco Grob was using the medium format Hasselblad H3DII-39 and the H3Dll-50 with the H System lenses. Utilizing one of the largest image sensors available - 48x36 mm - more than twice the size of even the largest 35mm camera sensors. These sensors hold more and larger pixels, ensuring ultra sharp images without gradation break-ups. Coupled with the favorite glass he uses for his portrait work from Carl Zeiss, the 120mm macro, he got mind-blowing sharpness and resolution. All of which might contribute to the excellent image quality and depth of field he achieves.

              I'm pretty sure he has not downgraded his equipment since then... and sometimes excellent images need very slight alterations or tweaks.

              Not everything has to be extensively Photoshopped

              Just my thoughts....

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              • #8
                Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

                Originally posted by 0lBaldy View Post
                I think Flashtones pretty much nailed it with:
                Back in 2009-2010 Marco Grob was using the medium format Hasselblad H3DII-39 and the H3Dll-50 with the H System lenses. Utilizing one of the largest image sensors available - 48x36 mm - more than twice the size of even the largest 35mm camera sensors. These sensors hold more and larger pixels, ensuring ultra sharp images without gradation break-ups. Coupled with the favorite glass he uses for his portrait work from Carl Zeiss, the 120mm macro, he got mind-blowing sharpness and resolution. All of which might contribute to the excellent image quality and depth of field he achieves.

                I'm pretty sure he has not downgraded his equipment since then... and sometimes excellent images need very slight alterations or tweaks.

                Not everything has to be extensively Photoshopped

                Just my thoughts....
                I disagree. Yes, sharper lenses bring better texture, but in order to take something from "capture" to "art" you need to be a skilled painter. No camera will bring you "depth". You simply must shade. Anything can be turned into fabulous art, and I mean ANYTHING just as long as you don't settle with what it is, but think of it as what it could be. I learned this the hard way.

                So, why the F do all these photographers waste their money on these pricey cameras if they don't matter? THEY DO MATTER, it's just that it's not the only thing that matters, and if you don't have 3 elements: actual set up, actual capture, and retouching, you won't get up to that "level".

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                • #9
                  Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

                  I concur, even back in the day of the wet rooms, we dodged and burned to get the best rendering possible... just did it differently and it was always to improve the shot... just saying you can't beat starting with an optimum shot... makes contouring and realizing the photographers artistic intent much easier

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

                    Originally posted by 0lBaldy View Post
                    I think Flashtones pretty much nailed it with:
                    Back in 2009-2010 Marco Grob was using the medium format Hasselblad H3DII-39 and the H3Dll-50 with the H System lenses. Utilizing one of the largest image sensors available - 48x36 mm - more than twice the size of even the largest 35mm camera sensors. These sensors hold more and larger pixels, ensuring ultra sharp images without gradation break-ups. Coupled with the favorite glass he uses for his portrait work from Carl Zeiss, the 120mm macro, he got mind-blowing sharpness and resolution. All of which might contribute to the excellent image quality and depth of field he achieves.
                    I've seen files from some of the more recent hasselblads, but you would be surprised what can be achieved with dslrs of the past few years. With good lighting you can capture a ton of skin texture without going crazy on sharpening. That's one thing that always bugs me. There are newer various newer methods that take an iterative approach to signal reconstruction, so I think we could see some really nice improvements in sharpening tools within a few years. It's not that current ones are terrible, but I really hate haloing. It's essentially an inversion.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

                      I know that cameras, lighting and subject all have a large saying but I was needing advice in terms of getting shiny, metallic skin that allows the shape of the face to come through.
                      I got advice (Flashtones) about contouring but I am lacking the shiny/metallic part.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

                        my advice wasn't really about shading or contouring, it was about putting sufficient contrast in the skin via lighting, optics and post processing. gotta get the highlights bright enough.

                        did you look at the larger image at 100%? still not shiny enough? then it needs more localized contrast. should it have come from lighting, optics or post processing? yes, all of the above.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Help with Marco Grob BW male skin structure

                          It is a variation on the Draganizer method that was popular many years back, in this variation, it is less heavy handed as in the original method, here, it was applied in B&W.

                          If you turn this http://www.worth1000.com/contests/17...her-draganizer into B&W, you will come close.

                          Look up Draganizer effect, there are even actions to do it, here is one http://www.atncentral.com/image_enhance.html#draganizer

                          This is the guy that gets or deserves the credit for all this ANDRZEJ DRAGAN http://www.andrzejdragan.com/

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