Using Strip Softboxes for Dramatic Portrait Lighting

Photographer Andrea Belluso recently teamed up with Profoto demonstrate the uses of strip softboxes. The aim was to create a dramatic portrait of a pilot in a darkened hangar in front of a glider.

The image is perfectly composed and the lighting on the subject and the aircraft is superb leading to a very crisp and engaging shot.

It’s an interesting shoot and exemplifies just how powerful strip lights and strip softboxes can be in the creation of low key images.

Andrea Belluso’s portfolio


Luke Daniel – Tattoos from South African Prisons

Photographer Luke Daniel recently produced a new series of portraits called Tjappies van die Point which is prison slang for ‘tattoos from South African prisons’.

Unlike previous prison and criminal related portrait series featured on Acufocal – like The REFLECT Project - this series has no focus on remorse. It is, however, morbidly interesting. The collection of images depicts South African ex-convicts out of prison, although most had been sent back to prison by the time the project had been completed. Each prisoner is covered in tattoos given through any means necessary whilst incarcerated.

To arrange and complete a project like this would not only be difficult to do, but has inherent risks. This is exemplified by one of the subjects being sent back to prison for murder between the time the pictures were taken and the time they were published. Luke Daniel describes finding these sort of subjects as ‘going down a rabbit hole.’

Luke Daniel Photography

Wedding and Runway Photography by Mike Colón

If you’re prone to jealousy, this isn’t going to be an enjoyable video. Highly commended photographer Mike Colón discusses his career while shooting a wedding in Tuscany and it’s hard not to envy his life. Mike travels the world shooting fashion, runway and weddings and it’s easy to see why Nikon named him ‘Legend Behind the Lens’ at such a young age.

His portfolio has a wealth of incredible portraiture and is as diverse as any photographer could hope for; there’s images from brides and impoverished children to MMA fighters and Jiu Jitsu championships. As is to be expected, it is well worth following him on Instagram too as he is active on social media.

Mike’s portfolio

Mike’s Instagram

BTS of a Portrait Shoot with a Hot Rod

Some photo shoots are irritatingly cool. Is Jeroen Nieuwhuis’s shoot one of those? – let’s assess the facts. An eerie dilapidated and abandoned location – check. An incredibly appealing rare car – check. A bearded model that is simultaneously rugged and sartorially elegant – check. At least he isn’t wearing wayfarers and smoking a cigar. Oh, stop it!

There is some great continuity and harmony to the elements of this shoot and the final images – which you can see in high res on Jeroen’s website here – show fitting post-production. I recommend browsing his portfolio as it is filled with a similar level of quality.

How a Photographer’s Generosity Launched Chris Pratt’s Career

For those of you who cannot watch the video for whatever reason, the story is this:

Chris Pratt moved to Los Angeles to become an actor and was living in his car. He knew he needed headshots done to sent out and a chance encounter with a photographer provided him with 2 rolls of film, filled with headshots of him. What’s more, the photographer did it for free.

This kind gesture to a young struggling actor was part of the reason he landed the role on Everwood and so begun his journey into the A list.

So as much as you may hear ‘don’t do anything for free’ from fellow photographers, sometimes a small gesture can have a huge impact.

BTS of Autumnal Fashion Editorial for The Voice of Louisville

As we enter in to the Autumn/Winter season I’ve seen an influx of BTS videos of fashion shoots proudly showing off new collections. This shoot by Clay Cook for The Voice of Louisville caught my eye though. There’s an appeal to autumn and spring fashion shoots for me. With summer shoots there’s a more obvious motif; the vibrant colours, the blue skies and the sense of fun and freedom. With autumn shoots there seems to be a larger range of images and there aren’t ties to perfect weather. Perhaps it is personal preference with the tones and clothing but whether you agree or not, this fashion editorial makes for good viewing.

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.