A Wedding Shoot on Location in New York

Wedding shoots can appear very similar at times as there is such a strong theme persistent through them all. That said, there is still plenty of room for innovation and with New York at your disposal you aren’t impoverished  location-wise.

In this video Brian Marcus takes a couple around New York capturing them in a number of stunning locations with a very portable Profoto lighting set up.

Brian Marcus’s Portfolio


BTS of Annie Leibovitz’s Autumn/Winter 14/15 Shoot for Moncler

Annie Leibovitz is one of the biggest names in photography these days and I have featured her shoots before. They are often elaborate and rarely boring.

This behind the scenes video shows Annie’s shoot for Moncler’s Autumn/Winter 14/15 collection and there is huge disparity between the locations. The campaign aims to show that Moncler’s jacket can be worn anywhere in the world and during any season and their creative use of locations demonstrate that well. In particular, using the desert as a cold location rather than hot was very effective and creative.

For more of Annie Leibovitz’s work click here.

How to Match Skin Tones in Photoshop

Matching skin tones (or even the colour of clothing as the light hits it differently) is paramount for a professional looking final image. I have always used hue and saturation adjustment layers to achieve this but regularly-featured Michael Woloszynowicz’s new video offers an effective alternative.

In this tutorial, Michael uses selective colour to bridge the gap between the desired skin tone and the tones that do not match. What separates this technique from the others – and why I will now be using this instead – is the use of ‘info’. Michael adjusts the colour values of the targeted skin to match the red, green, blue, cyan, magenta and yellow values of the preferred area. Although it’s not infallible, this technique alleviates the problem of the retoucher’s eye getting it slightly wrong. Anyone who has edited for more than an hour in one sitting will know that your perceptions of what looks correct can be quite far out and you will return to the image later to fix it.

Check out Michael’s Facebook page and website.

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Fan Ho – Hong Kong Yesterday

Street photography – particularly street portraiture – is held in high regard at Acufocal as you can see by clicking here. However, this particularly gallery of images is a little different. Award-winning photographer (and by award-winning I don’t mean competitions in the local paper, I mean over 280 awards including international exhibitions) Fan Ho documents the streets of 1950s Hong Kong.

Acquiring signed work limited edition work of Fan Ho’s is not cheap and you can certainly see why that’s the case. It appears that he has a preoccupation with light as you can see in the selection above he has captured some intoxicating scenes. Every images is atmospheric and interesting, whether complex or minimalist.

If you would like to see more of Fan Ho, here are some links that may be of interest:

Fan Ho’s Portfolio

Modernbook Gallery’s Fan Ho Exhibition

A Lecture by Fan Ho

Real-time Changing Makeup Using Projections

First there was self applied makeup. Then there were artists who specialise in makeup. This was followed by Photoshop applied makeup. What’s next? Well it appears to be projected makeup.

To use the real name: Omotje: Real-time face tracking & projection mapping. Makeup artist Hiroto Kuwahara and digitial image engineer Paul Lacroix have teamed up to create projections that mimic makeup and create special effects. Not only can it apply realistic and special effects – from lipstick and tans to wires and liquid skin textures – it does so in real time and with the capability of tracking the face as it moves. Furthermore, it can generate accurate reflections, again in real-time.

The whole project has an incredibly high limit of possibilities for photoshoots and I must say I would love to try it. The only slight concern is that in places, it begins to enter uncanny valley (I have hotlinked this term in case you unfamiliar with it). I think this is primarily due to the eyes. Either way, it’s a fantastic idea and I look forward to seeing more results.

Behind the Scenes of WIRED’s Shoot with Edward Snowden

As much as I find portraits of the aesthetically fortunate interesting, I have always gravitated towards portraits of people who have or are changing the world. Often that will mean presidents, billionaires or sometimes simply dedicated philanthropists. However, there are few people I would like to photograph more than WIRED magazine’s August cover occupant Edward Snowden.

Snowden is often regarded as the world’s most wanted man and although this is misleading, he is unquestionably among America’s most wanted. Author James Bamford and photographer Platon talk through their brief meeting with Snowden accompanied by a behind the scenes video of the shoot.

There is very little space for a complicated or elaborate shoot; the images are taken in what appears to be a hotel room with only portable lighting and backdrops. The final images are provocative – none more so than the cover shot – and they serve to highlight the depth of the world’s most famous whistleblower.

Photographer Platon is not unfamiliar with photographing some of the world’s most influential figures and to see more of his portraits – including Putin – click here.

A Guide to the Liquify Tool in Photoshop

The liquify tool has been the focus for much vitriol. If a model has been edited to look like a size zero instead of her already skinny size 8, the liquify tool will have invariably been at the heart of that transformation.

Despite the negative connotations of using liquify in portraits, it has a number of applications which are less controversial. For example, portraits with a wider focal length can distort in ways that you might be aiming for, but not everything is distorted in an aesthetically pleasing way. It might be the case that your close up wide angle portrait has a great look, but the nose – being the closest feature to the camera – becomes a little too distorted. Liquify is excellent for remedying that without losing the whole look. Another popular use is to increase volume of the model’s hair.

Aaron Nace in this guide shows another application: editing wardrobe. If your model hasn’t had his or her clothes tailored to them, the liquify tool can do that in post.

Make sure you check Phlearn for more tutorials.

BTS Footage of a Portrait Shoot at the Salt Flats

Living in one of the flattest parts of an already visually average country (with a few exceptions) as I do, I rarely look to feature landscapes in my portraiture. I am, therefore, all the more jealous when I see shoots like this one from The Slanted Lens and Jay P Morgan.

The video is BTS footage and a lighting tutorial for a shoot based in Bonneville Salt Flats which is stunning in and of itself. The tutorial is primarily focused on how to blend strobes with daylight and a method for monitoring what impact the strobes are having on the image. A pet peeve of mine when it comes to on location portraiture is having the strobes so strong that the subject is too isolated from the background. This was (and possibly still is) a popular look in glamour photography when models are shot at sunset on a beach. In this video that is certainly not the case and the natural available light and the artificial lights are fused together seamlessly.

Creating Natural Looking Daylight with Artificial Lighting

One of the biggest problems for on-location photoshoots is weather. This problem is exacerbated tenfold when you live somewhere like England where the weather changes on a minute by minute basis! If your shoot is going to last several hours, you tend to need a lot of luck to achieve a continuity of lighting through all of your images.

It is this subject of continuity of light in a set of images which is partially the reason I wanted to share this short BTS video. Despite the sky clearly changing from overcast to bright several times during the shoot, each of James Nader’s images are crisp, bright and obviously part of the same set. The second reason for sharing the video is that it demonstrates just how effective a single flash, a reflector and diffused daylight can be.

James Nader’s portfolio

Editing a Backlit Portrait in Lightroom

This might only be a short video but it shows a very well edit of an image. The image is heavily backlit (by natural light or though that needn’t be the case) and this can cause huge disparity between light and dark areas.

When you’re shooting in to the sun, you will almost always want to blow out the highlights unless it’s in the golden hour and you’re incorporating the landscape in to the image. The problem, however, is age-old; the camera cannot gather sufficient details from the darks and the lights when the exposure range is so wide. One way to combat this is to use a reflector (silver for a crisp almost wintery look and gold for warmer skin tones) as this serves to use some of that backlight to brighten the face. It also can add attractive catchlights in the eyes if used at the right angle. I have a number of reflector tutorials available, if you click here it will take you to a search for them.

Even with a reflector the image can still end up being washed out by the extreme highlights which – unless that’s the look you’re striving for – can be unattractive and have the image feeling very flat. In fact, the original image in this video is exactly that: it’s flat. However, using Adobe Lightroom, the contrast, detail and tones can be recovered and corrected to result in a very pleasing image.

You can see more of the author’s work here.

The Pursuit of the Visceral Reaction

Create Realistic Bokeh for Composite Portraits

I have seen a lot of video tutorials and guides for both compositing and creating fake bokeh. In my experience, the bokeh invariably looks fake and can ruin an otherwise promising composite. However, in this video Serge Ramelli demonstrates how to use Photoshop’s own bokeh creating filter ‘field blur’.

I was unfamiliar with this method until recently and I’ve now had a chance to try it myself. All that is necessary for you to create very realistic bokeh that looks as if it is fresh from some expensive and fast glass is an image of lights. As Serge uses in this video, a cityscape image is perfect although I also had success with an image of Christmas tree lights and fireworks.

The second noteworthy lesson in this video is the quick but effective method for cutting out a subject for a composite, adding them to an image and adjusting the white balance so that they fit the backdrop.

Serge Ramelli has some great Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials and you can browse his Youtube channel by clicking here.