Posts Tagged Full color balance CBL Lens
On-location Executive Portraits
“The photographs look wonderful. Carroll made the entire process easy for us, and quickly provided us the final retouched portraits. Next time we need photographs for our firm, we will call Carroll Morgan.”
Photographing executive portraits on-location presents several challenges. Primarily, few business people like having their picture taken. The photographer is expected to capture a pleasing expression, and everyone has one!
These are some of the logistical challenges that must be resolved.
- Is the room large enough to accommodate all my equipment? What about that unplanned group photo?
- Is the ceiling tall enough to properly position a hair light or to raise a light high enough to eliminate reflections in eyeglasses?
- What about simply accessing their office (parking, service elevators, time of day access, security)?
- Do they wear glasses? (See 2 above)
- What are the hair colors (blonds require a lower hair light intensity than brunettes)? And what about that person with no hair?
- The time of day and season matter, too. Try shooting a portrait late in the day during the summer; without makeup you will have shiny skin to retouch.
I need answers to these questions (and more!) in order to have an effortless shoot.
Maggie Heim contacted me to photograph portraits for their new website. I had not been in Resurgens Plaza before, and based on our phone conversation, I felt that it would be unwise to “show up” and shoot. We scheduled a site survey, and I’m glad! Though the unoccupied offices were large, every one contained massive desks and credenzas which ate up floor space and disallowed proper placement of the background, 5 light stands, and camera/tripod. Unfortunately, I could not shoot in their offices.
Fortunately, the property manager allowed us to use the training room. (Recently, I photographed another attorney in that building. There is a new property management company, and they now want to charge $100 to use the classroom. Note to self: assume nothing!)
On shoot day, because of my preparation, nothing was a surprise. I was on-site before the building opened. I knew where to park, the best way to move 2 dollies of equipment using the service elevator, and I had security’s phone number for access to the freight elevator.
The shoot went well, and I learned something about them I didn’t know. They both have beautiful skin!
- I shoot a full 5-light portable setup with Balcar strobes (octa key, fill, rim, hair, and background). I really like to provide great lighting for my clients. You can’t do that with 2 or 3 lights.
- If the ceiling is a neutral color I will bounce off of it for the hair light. I find this provides a more gradual highlight on the hair than a small softbox. I adjust the power to hair color.
- I try to shoot around f/4.0 – 5.6 with a focal length between 100 and 135mm on a 70-200/f2.8 lens. I focus on the near eye and find that gives a depth of field sufficient to hold the tip of the nose to the eyes in sharp focus. The ears are out of focus, as is the background. Who wants to look at your ear!?
- I do an in-camera manual white balance and shoot a ColorChecker card which I use to create a custom profile in Lightroom.
- I shoot tethered to a Lenovo W520 laptop (which has a gorgeous matte screen!), running Portrait Professional Studio 64 (which leaves the images on the card as a backup). The RAW images appear on the computer in about 1.5 seconds.
- The captured images are processed in Lightroom and uploaded using The Turning Gate TTG Highslide Gallery Pro (which is outdated… I need to upgrade to TTG CE2 Pages).
- I will convert to black & white using Silver Efex Pro, if the client wishes.
On-location Executive Portrait
A week earlier Donna and I photographed Dr. Moncada’s executive portrait, as well as his staff at the office in Dahlonega, GA. The shoot went well, but he felt his hair was too long. Always happy to serve my clients, we headed to his home on a Saturday morning to reshoot his executive portrait. We setup our normal 5 light portable portrait studio in his family room (fortunately, it was just large enough). Though the ceiling height did not allow for a proper hair light its color was pretty neutral, so I bounced a light off of it.
The PCG Labs corporate colors are in the blue tones, so used the same mottled gray background as before. His first suit was gray, and I was concerned about separating him from the background, so we shot a series of head shots. Dr. Moncada graciously changed into a blue suit, and we reshot the series. (Note: Dr. Moncada’s new business name and site is PGC Molecular)
While setting up our lighting initially, I noticed that his front door provided a clear view to the woods across the street, and I thought the bright green leaves might make an interesting background. On the final shot we moved the octa, rim, fill and hair lights, balanced our Balcar lighting to the outside. I think this is my favorite image of Dr. Moncada.
For post-production I edited in Lightroom 3.3 and uploaded to The Turning Gate TTG Highslide Gallery Comment template for his consideration. I was surprised when he selected 13 for full retouching! These were my selects.
Cambridge Professional Group offers full service legal staffing as well as multi-specialty professional search and staffing. President Steve Sullivan contacted me to provide images for a new collateral piece designed to highlight his newest offices.
We met to discuss the photo shoot, and, from the layout of the office, it seemed apparent that two interior panoramas might appropriately show size of the space. He agreed and had his designer change the layout to accomodate “long and skinny”. (As an aside, I conceptualize well and find it easy to offer good visual solutions to clients’ ideas.)
The below are unfinished images. For the entry image I shot a pano series with people in the background, and Steve wants to use that one.
When asked for his comments on the shoot, Steve said:
All I can say is we love the work you did for Cambridge and will look to you for our next project.
Please see the final images in my panoramic portfolio here.
- It seems the most difficult technical problem was getting a working Nodal Ninja 5 panorama head. The rental unit I received was the same one I returned a week earlier. Just like the first time, it was missing 2 important parts. I contacted the rental house, and they agreed to FedEX the parts to me for a 10:30 a.m. delivery the day of the shoot. FedEX apparently lost the package, so, once again, I went to my favorite Ace Hardware store where Shayne bailed me out again.
- Based on my poor rental experience I spoke with Bill at Nodal Ninja, and I will purchase a new preproduction Ultimate M1-L very soon. Look for the Nodal Ninja logo on my site. Grump meter off, back to the shoot…
- I shot with Nikon D3s (love that camera!) in MirrorUp mode with a release.
- Vertical orientation with focal length of 14mm and 16mm on Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S.
- Exposures were around .4 seconds at f/9.0, ISO 200.
- Shot tethered to my laptop, viewed images in FastPictureViewer Pro, looking for blown highlights and proper histograms. Imported into Lightroom 3.3 and stitched 4-5 images for client’s approval.
- I had 2 main concerns: 1) color temperature of the different light sources (fluourescent, tungsten and daylight), and 2) varying brightness levels of the light sources. Here is how I solved these:
1) Color temperature control:
• used CBL Lens to perform a manual white balance on each shot
• included an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport in each scene; later used to generate a Lightroom 3.3 camera profile
• thought about shooting 3 different manual white balance series (one each for fluourescent, tungsten and daylight) and HDR’d them together in Photoshop, but decided to pass, since that process had not been tested with stitched panoramas (although I have used it successfully for other real estate photography)
• controlled some off color spaces with Photoshop masking
2) Brightness level control:
• control is not always possible… sometime it must be corrected in post… shoot in RAW!
• began shooting around 6 p.m. and adjusted window blinds to control outside light intensity
• in the areas that were too bright I will use Photoshop masks
• the Cambridge sign was not lit so I gelled a SB-800 and used Paul Buff CyberSync to trigger (did not have the time to arrive at proper gel pack, so it needs further tweaking for final image)
EDIT: The gelled SB-800 highlight on the sign was too magenta. I used Select>Color Range in Photoshop CS5, created a mask and desaturated the color back to acceptable. See the final image at Portfolios>Panoramas and Skylines. The client selected the image that included people. I think that helped the composition.