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Posts from the ‘Portraiture’ Category


Flashback Sunday


Avedon’s Secret

Paige~Darren Stone (2012)

Richard Avedon is widely regarded as one of the greatest photographers ever. In his early photographer/model studio work he used one strobe light. I never worked with Avedon or met the man, but I’ve studied his images and looked at his studio set ups. If one strobe worked for Avedon, is it good enough for us? I think so.

Here’s why:

  •  Over-lighting looks cheesy. There are gazillions of examples out there.
  •  Less is more. Great design and style come from simplicity.
  •  One light is natural. How many suns are there? That’s the light we see every day.
  • The Dutch Masters used one light source. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals …… they were pretty good.
  • Quality not quantity. There is plenty of quantity in one high-powered flash unit. Quality comes from light modifiers.

Here’s how:

  • You can make hair highlights look exactly like you want in post-production. Easily. But not if you’ve over-lit the image.
  • Use the money you saved on multiple strobes to buy light modifiers. Change the quality of light with beauty dishes, octaboxes, softboxes. etc.
  • Reflectors do a masterful job of softening shadows if you get proper exposures.
  • Pay attention to the direction of the light. Learn Butterfly or Rembrandt lighting.
  • You know how you get to Carnegie Hall, don’t ya? Practice. Use one light for 10,000 hours.  You’ll be a master.
In later years Avedon went from one strobe………to none. There is genius in minimalism.

                                                                                                                                                      Avedon in studio-1964




Another portrait from the Badass/Crazy shoot. Nice to have some props around when you shoot a portrait. This is Derek Spalding. He’s a reporter. Obviously! Same lighting and processing as the Lennam portrait I posted a couple off days ago with a diagram.


Susan Jacks

I photographed Susan Jacks of The Poppy Family for the paper this morning.  The Poppy Family, with Susan as lead vocalist, had a number of hits like “Which Way You Go’in Billy?” ,”That’s Where I Went Wrong” and “Where Evil Grows”  from 1968 through the early 1970s. Susan is in Victoria  to perform a benefit concert for the Kidney Foundation of Canada to raise awareness of the need for organ donation. She received a kidney transplant when her brother Billy donated a kidney to her. Yes, it’s Billy from the song.  I took this photo with the iPhone 4s, Hipstamitic app, using the Lucifer VI lens and Alfred Infrared film.


David Lennam

I decided to branch out a bit from straight fashion and use what I have learned in the studio with portraiture. I take hundreds of portraits for the newspaper  every year, but mostly environmental portraits without the studio setup. I made a lighting set up when I had a few people over the other night for a party. I instructed the subjects to give me  a “badass or crazy” look. My friend David Lennam, a Canadian writer,  was one of the guests who posed. This is Dave’s “badass” look. It was great and weird that Dave showed up to the party in his blue bathrobe for the “Blue Theme” party. So I guess Dave kind of covered “badass and crazy” all in one look. I set up a quick backdrop with paper and used a White Lighting X1600 shot through a  beauty dish directly in front and above the sunbject. You can see the lighting diagram below. I used the Alien Skin Exposure  CS5 plug-in Polapan film emulation to add some grain and the blue/pink tones.  Camera was the Canon 5D Mark 2 with a Canon  EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L  lens.

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