Portrait Processing Techniques
Seeing a photograph, having a scene play out in front of you and recognising it's photographic potential has for the most part been something I have found relatively easy. There is however much more to an image than the moment of capture and so it was that over the course of last year I began to find myself reflecting more and more on the process that leads up to that point, the physical act of placing myself in interesting situations and environments.
I've spent countless hours of my time, not to mention quite a bit of cash seeking out what amount to fleeting moments in most cases. I don't need to be reminded that to a large extent this is the essence of photography, searching, waiting, let's be honest you just don't find many impatient photographers!! Whilst I accept this, I also worked out that I needed to add another aspect to my photography, not one that relied entirely on chance, but one I could control, to a point....
I've no intention of moving away from beautiful landscapes, candid moments or those unnoticed details that only we photographers see. But, a more personal photographic exchange with people is something that has always fascinated and scared me in equal measure. It's a fact of photography and life in general that at certain junctions you will feel the need to push yourself further, to challenge yourself by moving away from those things that make you comfortable and to take a step in to the unknown. That's very much the motivation here......
In the last week I've taken my first tentative steps, it's been exciting, nerve wracking and not surprisingly very difficult. But, "no pain, no gain" as they say and it's never been more true!! You'll be pleased to know I won't be inundating you with my failures but in order to see any progression I'm going to need to force myself to show you images that may not be technically as good as I would like.
I have what I would describe as a finite vision for my photography in this genre, it's one that is very much based around film and Medium Format. However, for convenience and while I find my feet I have chosen to proceed in digital as there is simply so much to learn. My task has been made a little easier by having some photogenic mates that are kind enough to help me and I'm grateful for that. I will be shooting with both inexperienced and experienced models though as things progress.
Now I've shared the thought process behind my direction and as I'm stuck with digital files in the short term, I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look at three versions of the same image, each processed differently. I have to say they all appeal to me to some degree. I've never felt 100% comfortable with colour images and as a large part of this experience is about moving out of my comfort zone it would be remiss of me to dismiss colour all together.
50mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE
More often than not I have the camera set to (Raw+Jpg), for a long time I shot the M9 in Raw only but I have much more faith in the M9 .jpg's now and they were used in this instance.
Option 1: It's no secret that I have a tendency to lean towards B&W imagery, I wouldn't say I necessarily prefer it, more that I just find it so much easier to see things in monochrome. The first image has undergone one adjustment in Silver Efex Pro 2 and then some minor adjustments in LR4.
Option 1 Option 2: It's not quite an out of camera .jpg but it's pretty close. Some skin softening and a tweak to the White Balance in LR4. I don't want to get in to a debate on CCD vs. CMOS sensors but I am 99.9999% certain to be sticking with the M9.
Option 2Option 3: I suppose I could describe this as an almost experimental look, I sat down and for the first time worked on a colour image in LR4. Until the arrival of the Leica M Monochrom I wasn't really a fan of LR4, being forced to use it has made me come to appreciate it much more. There are lots of editing options available, I have probably tried most of them!! Whilst I don't think LR4 is as intuitive as Aperture 3, I do feel it is a more powerful processing tool. I've just added the Lightroom 4 Preset System from SLR Loungealong with the Exposure 4 Plugin from Alien Skin for some added creativity!!
Option 3 As I've said, this is a first step in a long journey, I'm always interested and encouraged by the feedback this website generates and as always I'd love to hear your opinions on my decision to attempt more work in this genre and processing in general.