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A Session with Andie

One of my good friends from high school, Andie, asked me over Twitter for some B&W shots of her. I was happy to oblige. She told me she wanted to go for a very natural look, so I immediately recalled Katy Perry's photo shoot with Rolling Stone magazine a few years back.

I always admired how natural everything looked and how the light from the window seemed to envelop her.  

It didn't seem like there were any additional lights used (except maybe some reflectors). 

I went looking around my house for a similar light source and found a window that took up the majority of the wall, so I figured I'd start there.

 

For lighting, I placed two strobes facing the window to help supplement the light and blow out the background. I was having difficulty getting precise focus since Andie was in the shadow surrounded by light, so I placed a Z96 LED Light in front of her to help with focus. All the lights are daylight-balanced, so there wasn't really an issue with different color temperatures.

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The two strobes I used were the Canon 430EX II and another third-party NEEWER TT560. To fire the strobes, I used the CowboyStudio NPT-04 wireless radio triggers. Brand name gear is just overrated and expensive. :)

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Andie made everything so easy! Needless to say, everything went smoothly. I shot with my 5D Mk III with the Sigma 70-200 ƒ/2.8. The long focal lengths did a great job compressing the background and made sure not to compress her great features.  

I snapped this photo with my Galaxy S4's camera (which by the way, on a completely unrelated side note, I think is totally inferior to the iPhone's).

I snapped this photo with my Galaxy S4's camera (which by the way, on a completely unrelated side note, I think is totally inferior to the iPhone's).

To edit the photos, I brought them into Aperture and did my initial adjustments. Then I used Lift & Stamp as necessary.

Here's an example of how I would edit: 

Import all my images and organize them accordingly.

An image, without any adjustments.

Make an initial Curves adjustment, increasing contrast in very specific areas of the image.

Slight Levels adjustment, increasing the lowest parts and decreasing the highest points of the image; also gives slight boost to contrast.

Increase vibrancy, rather than saturation (saturation increases colors across entire image while vibrancy increases colors without increasing skin tone).

Switch to red channel of Curves adjustment

Increase the shadows slider, eliminating the red cast and providing a more "cinematic" look

Provide a more natural skin tone by adjusting the Hue + Luminance parameters in the Color adjustment.

Increase Sharpness and Detail to increase clarity from the RAW Fine Tuning adjustment.

Increase Sharpness and Detail to increase clarity from the RAW Fine Tuning adjustment.

Increase Edge Sharpen to further sharpen the image and define edges.

The whole point of this session was to get some B&W images, so I picked some of my favorites and either did a

    • Low-contrast edit
    • High-contrast edit
    • Both, depending on the image

    Above is a video detailing how I created the B&W versions.

    Robert MachadoComment