Tag Archives: natural light

eBook Review: Portrait Tips and Techniques

Portraits… a very broad topic with deep technical and artistic aspects. A portrait photographer must have control and understanding of the subject, surroundings, light, and camera in order to create images with impact. This is generally the case in any type of photography, but portraits demand a higher level of control.

Educating yourself on the subject of portraiture can be difficult because of the inherent technical material. But with the right teacher or author, this material can be absorbed with minimal pain to the brain.

Volume 1 of Wayne Radford’s Portrait Tips and Techniques is a book that covers the many aspects of black & white natural light portraiture (and the material applies to color portraits as well). The lessons and teachings are somewhat technical, but the material is presented in a “down to Earth” fashion that anybody can understand. You can download an 8 page sample of the eBook here [PDF].

Check the end of this review for your chance at a free copy of the full version!

[tweetmeme]You can purchase Volume 1 of Portrait Tips and Techniques from Wayne Radford’s website. Links in this post are affiliate links to the product.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Portrait Tips and Techniques, Volume 1 is a 126 page downloadable eBook containing 4 main chapters encompassing 10 distinct lessons. The end of the book also contains a selection of sample work from the author and a couple of clean and concise guides to facial analysis and lighting. And the supporting graphics… this book has over 90 great sample shots, diagrams, and charts. Click on the images below for a larger view.

The book starts off with an introduction from the author in addition to some extra background material on his journey as a portrait photographer. Then we jump into “Facial Recognition”, or posing techniques for your subjects. The next main section is “Lighting Techniques”, all of which are in the realm of natural light. The last two chapters cover “Exposure” and “Composition” as they relate specifically to portraits. The book wraps up with a sample gallery of work from Wayne Radford and two single-page charts for lighting and posing (very handy).

Throughout the book, sample images and illustrations are used to convey the lessons found in the text. Wayne also deconstructs his photos to convey a particular technique and show how it was used to create that photo. All in all, this is a very visual guide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wayne Radford is an Australian professional portrait photographer specialising in Black & White, and he’s been doing it for over 25 years. While he’s done his fair share of weddings, in 2000 Wayne switched over exclusively to children’s environmental portraiture.

Throughout his career he has received numerous State and National awards for his unique style of photography including the Australian Professional Photography Awards category; “1996 Wedding Photographer of the Year” at both National and State judging. In addition he also received the classification of “Master of Photography”. On two occasions he has won the “Highest Scoring Black & White Print” at these awards.

You can see some of Wayne’s work on his Radford Photography website and on Flickr. For his non-portrait work, also check out his Radford Editions website.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a wonderful, educational, and inspirational book on the topic of portrait photography. I love the fact that it focuses on natural light techniques and uses black & white images for illustration. It’s direct, focused, and it cuts out the extra fluff and off-topic discussion.

This would be a great book for two types of photographers: those wanting to learn portraits from the ground up, and those wanting to add more to their existing knowledge of portraiture. Either way, this book will certainly step up your game.

You can purchase Volume 1 of Portrait Tips and Techniques for $19.95 until December 20, at which point it will return to the regular price of $24.95. (the image says Dec 12, but the end date is really Dec 20)

WANT A FREE COPY?

[UPDATE 11/22/2010] The winners have been chosen. You can see the results here.

Of course you do! I’ve got 3 copies of the eBook to hand out and we’ll run this as a simple raffle in the comments below. Here are the rules:

  • One entry per person.
  • Leave a comment with the word “freebook” in there somewhere.
  • Do it on or before 11/19/2010.

After the deadline, I’ll pull 3 random numbers and see if the corresponding comments have the word “freebook” in them. If not, I’ll pull additional numbers until 3 winners have been chosen.

Simply Religious

Simply Religious

Brian Auer | 02/09/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 75mm * f/2.0 * 1/8000s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This church in La Jolla, California caught my eye for its stunning white simplicity. The clear blue sky also helped to compliment the building and its elegance. I was on a photowalk, and we had just started down the road toward the beach and everybody was excited to get shooting. And so, I framed the building to include mostly sky while leaving a good portion of the church (and its surroundings) left to the imagination. I took two shots with different compositions of this church top, and this one turned out best.

Simply Religious Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    This one turned out a little overexposed. I shot it at f/2 with my 50mm lens and it pushed my shutter speed up to 1/8000, maxing it out. I probably should have set the f-number to at least f/2.8.
  2. Processed RAW
    Mainly I just recovered the highlights and darkened the overall image, getting it ready for Photoshop.
  3. LAB Saturation
    I saw that the blues were a little muddy, so I ran it through my LAB Saturation Photoshop Action and brought out the color while adding a bit of contrast.
  4. Clone & Sharpen
    Somehow I sort of forgot to deal with the little bit of brickwork on the bottom edge, so I took that out with the patch tool. Then I sharpened it up a bit.
  5. Curves Adjustment
    I wasn’t totally happy with the tones and colors, so I added a curves adjustment to bring up the highlights and push the shadows down. I left the blending mode to “Normal” so the blues would get a little punch too.

Enjoy!

Field of Yellow

Field of Yellow

Brian Auer | 04/13/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 15mm * f/8.0 * 1/160s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This one was taken along the shores of La Jolla, California. I was out with my wife this weekend and we decided to take a short trip down the Pacific Coast Highway from Carlsbad to La Jolla. The shores of La Jolla are some of the most scenic in the area — lots of small cliffs and sandstone formations, caves, vegetation, tide pools, etc. I shot this scene with my Sigma 10-20mm lens at the widest focal length of 10mm. I’ve been ignoring that lens for a while, so I put it on the camera and left it there all day… well, I had my film camera with me too so I wasn’t completely limited on focal length.

Field of Yellow Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    Here’s what the unprocessed RAW image looked like — pretty dull and a little washed out.
  2. Processed RAW
    I cooled the white balance slightly, increased the contrast, increased the vibrance and saturation, and added a few other minor tweaks to the exposure settings.
  3. LAB Saturation
    I used my LAB Saturation Photoshop Action to bring the colors out a little better. This helped to remove some of the muddy haze in the sky.
  4. Dodge
    Selective dodging around the green of the waves and on the left side of the flowers at the bottom of the frame.
  5. Burn
    Selective burning in the sky and on the right side of the flowers to add more balance.

Enjoy!

Radially

Radially

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 75mm * f/4.0 * 1/60s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This was shot using all natural light (it was in the shade on a very sunny day) and the camera was handheld with a 50mm lens. This plant caught my attention as I walked the canals of Venice, California — it was along the sidewalk behind the houses. The pattern was so very strong, and the colors so deep that I couldn’t pass it up. The water droplets on the plant were just icing on the cake.

Radially Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    Straight out of the camera — untouched.
  2. Processed RAW
    I did a few basic adjustments to get the white balance correct and to bring up the contrast and saturation. Nothing very extreme though.
  3. Dodge & Burn
    Here, I used non-destructive dodging and burning techniques to really make the contrast stand out where I wanted it.
  4. LAB Saturation
    Using the technique I outlined previously for boosting saturation via LAB color mode, I strengthened the greens that are so inherently present.
  5. High Pass Sharpen
    I used a very subtle sharpening by running the high pass filter and setting the blend to overlay at 50% opacity.

As you can see, lots of little changes really add up from start to finish.

Abused and Ignored

Abused and Ignored

Brian Auer | 03/08/2008 | Venice Beach, CA | 75mm * f/2.5 * 1/8000s * ISO200
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

I found this beautiful lady in Venice Beach. She didn’t say much, but I think she was into me. Don’t let her distant stare fool you, she had quite the personality. Underneath of her “I’m sexy and I know it” facade, she’s screaming for attention. Because she is, after all… abused and ignored.

Abused and Ignored Post-Processing

  1. Unprocessed RAW
    There you have it, straight out of the camera.
  2. Processed RAW
    Minimal processing for white balance and exposure (using the “Auto” setting in ACR).
  3. Color Curves
    I used the technique from my “Redscale Process” described some weeks ago. After adjusting the curves, the blend mode was set to “color”.
  4. Color Fill
    Again, from the mentioned Photoshop technique. Opacity set to 20% and blend mode to “color”.
  5. Luminosity Curves
    Added some contrast to make it a little more punchy. Blend mode was set to “luminosity” to preserve previous color adjustments.

Now if I could figure out how to create the same effect in ACR I’d be pretty clever.

Feet on the Beach

Feet on the Beach

Brian Auer | 01/19/2008 | San Diego, CA | 300mm * f/6.7 * 1/250s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This one was taken on the Torrey Pines State Beach near my home in San Diego. The feet actually belong to my Mother-in-Law. I spotted her walking along the water near sunset and I couldn’t resist trying to get some “walking on the beach” photos. I shot about 7 or 8 in rapid-fire mode and this one turned out the best from all of them. The reflection turned out better than I had hoped, and the moment in mid-stride made for an interesting photo.

Feet on the Beach Post-Processing

All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.

  1. Untouched RAW Image
    This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. Not a lot of color to begin with, so black & white was a natural choice for me.
  2. Black & White Conversion
    Before doing anything, I switched to grayscale. I pushed the red, orange, yellow, green, and aqua to negative compensation while the blues, purples and magentas were pushed in the positive direction.
  3. Basic Adjustments
    I left the white balance set at a temperature of 5100 and a tint of -1. I left the exposure near zero, while I boosted the recovery to 33, fill light to 41, bumped the blacks up to 34, increased the brightness to 76, pushed up the contrast to 19, and I ramped the clarity all the way up to 100.
  4. Tone Curve Adjustment
    Using the parametric tone curve, I set the highlights to +22, lights to +49, darks to -33, and shadows to -47. This gave me the strong contrast I was after, and I actually pushed a few (very few) of the shadows off the histogram. Overall, the image is heavy on the darker tones.
  5. Vignette and Sharpen
    In the lens correction menu, I set the vignette to an amount of -70 with a midpoint of 20 — and this gave me the strong frame around the subject. As a last step, I set the sharpening under the detail menu to an amount of 50 with a radius of 1.5 pixels.

Enjoy!

The Place To Be

The Place To Be

Brian Auer | 02/09/2008 | La Jolla, CA | 19mm * f/4.5 * 1/400s * ISO100
[Print Pricing] [Contact for Signed Prints] [See it at Flickr]

This shot was taken during the La Jolla photowalk in early February. At the time, I found the scene to be very interesting — the hut, the birds, the people, and the ocean in the background really seemed to work together in this candid shot. I kept things fairly well centered because of the strong symmetry already present in the hut. The Birds and the people served to break up that symmetry in isolated areas, so I didn’t feel I needed to break it up even more. Lucky for me, I also left some extra room at the top of the frame, which served as a nice backdrop for some heavy vignette.

The Place To Be Post-Processing

All of the following post-processing steps were done with Adobe Camera Raw — no Photoshop was used on this photo.

  1. Untouched RAW Image
    This is what the image looked like straight out of the camera. It could probably work as a color image too, but I wanted to go colorless.
  2. Black & White Conversion
    Before doing anything, I switched to grayscale. I pushed the red, orange, yellow, green, and aqua to negative compensation while the blues, purples and magentas were pushed in the positive direction.
  3. Basic Adjustments
    I left the white balance set at a temperature of 5800 and a tint of +3. I left the exposure, recovery, and clarity set to zero, while I boosted the fill light to 46, bumped the blacks up to 36, dropped the brightness to 16, and pushed up the contrast to 52.
  4. Tone Curve Adjustment
    Using the parametric tone curve, I set the highlights to +41, lights to +39, darks to -44, and shadows to -76. This gave me the strong contrast I was after, and I actually pushed a bunch of the highlights and shadows off the histogram.
  5. Vignette and Sharpen
    In the lens correction menu, I set the vignette to an amount of -76 with a midpoint of 19 — and this gave me the strong frame around the hut while filling in some of that sky. As a last step, I set the sharpening under the detail menu to an amount of 50 with a radius of 1.5 pixels.

Enjoy!

February Challenge: Day 9 – Pedestrian Crossing

Pedestrian Crossing

WEEK 2 = YELLOW

This photo (and those shown below) came from our recent La Jolla photowalk. I totally overworked the colors on this image and it was completely on purpose, but I like the way it ended up. I’ll be uploading quite a few photos to Flickr over the course of this week, so keep your eyes on my stuff over there if you’re interested in seeing how the day turned out. You can also follow the photos from everybody else, as long as they’re tagged with “photowalking020908“. Honestly, with all this color stuff for the February Challenge, you can expect to see a lot of my photowalk images turning out black & white.

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

February Challenge: Day 7 – MAG 30

MAG 30

WEEK 2 = YELLOW

Section of my downhill mountain bike with a focus on the yellow rim and tire logos. The bike is an older Cannondale Super V 4000. In it’s hayday, it was the bike used by professional racers — and even by today’s standards, it’s not half bad.

This is my baby (the one that’s not a camera). She’s a little rough around the edges, but I love her anyways. It breaks my heart that I’ve been too busy to get out and ride over the last several years. From about the age of 17 to 20 I was riding every week and racing full seasons. Since then, I’ve been tapering off to not much riding at all.

Downhill mountain biking/racing was my main hobby until I found photography. Since that time, I’ve been riding less often and shooting more often. One of my main goals for this summer is to get back up on the mountain a handful of times and put some time on the saddle… I didn’t even ride it this last summer.

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.