Portrait Photography Recipes

Today's post comes from the book Rangefinder's Professional Photography: Techniques From the Pages of Rangefinder Magazine, edited by Bill Hurter. It is available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers. This book compiles the work of almost 100 photographers as featured in Rangefinder magazine's Cookbook features. Essentially, each photographer offers a photograph and explains how they created it. Here are two of the "recipes".

Fernando Escovar: A Retro Fashion Series

I thought it might be a good idea to produce a retro style in my next fashion series, so I started with an old Shure microphone, like the ones you see in movies from the 1950s. I remembered a location at Bellagio in Las Vegas where they have a cool lounge called the Fontana Bar. They also have an old drum set with an ornate “B” on the bass drum.

A model/actress friend of mine, Amanda Swisten, loves anything retro, so I asked if she would do this for me. As a photographer you have to make a lot of phone calls to orchestrate these “mini movies.” The hair and makeup all had to be just right for this project, which ran as a sixteen-page spread and cover for Las Vegas magazine.

After I scouted and secured the location, I made a shot list with the editor to see what outfit looked best for each scene. That exercise took half a day. After making the selections, we had a fitting with Amanda to double-check the clothes.

I am all digital now, sporting Canon’s 1Ds Mark II, and I don’t remember how I ever lived before digital. The other day I was shooting an assignment for a client who wanted film. I kept looking down at the camera body to view the image I had just captured, but I couldn’t because it was a film camera.

With digital, I can quickly check my work when I am building a shot with lights—like the image of Amanda singing in front of the striking red curtains. I wanted to make sure I was getting shadows where I wanted them. I also wanted to keep light on the drum set and not fully on Amanda while shooting 100 ISO at f/8 and 1/125 second; shooting digital allowed me to ensure
these elements.

We made fine adjustments, flagged off the main Profoto strobe with some GatorBoard, and covered the other strobes with amber gels to give off some deeper colors. I only used three heads on this shot with an Acute 2400 pack.

Camera: Canon 1Ds Mark II
Exposure: 100 ISO at f/8,
1/125 second
Light: Profoto strobe,
flagged off with
GatorBoard; other
strobes covered with
amber gels; Acute
2400 pack

Monte Zucker: The Touch
For this image, Monte Zucker wanted to create a high-key portrait outdoors with simple props. In order to do so, the first thing he looked for was a covered area with strong backlighting. The perfect setting was under a covered porch with no light coming in from above. To get the backlighting, he waited for the afternoon sun, then used a Westcott translucent panel directly behind the couple to diffuse the backlight.

The camera was a Canon EOS 10D loaded with a 640MB Delkin memory card. The ISO was adjusted to 200. Monte says, “I used aperture priority with the lens set at f/5.6. The internal exposure meter saw a lot of white behind them and stopped down too much, so the figures were underexposed. I had to override the in-camera meter by a stop and a half to get the correct exposure on their faces.

“Heads were positioned for profiles of both, with my normal lighting pattern for profiles coming thru the Westcott translucent panel. In addition, they were lying on a Westcott Black/White 4x6-foot panel.

“I used a 27-inch silver reflector as a kicker to help brighten the image. The reflector (Westcott’s Monte Illuminator) was tipped upward to catch light coming over the top of the translucent panel. This opened up the shadows slightly without overpowering the main light coming through behind them.”

Very little was done in Photoshop, except to remove a few minor blemishes from their skin. “The couple in the picture were high-school friends. They came to pose for one of my workshops. They got more and more into my photographing them when they saw how much fun we were having. They originally told me that they didn’t like posed photos, but as we took more pictures and they looked at the LCD screen, they got more enthusiastic. They said, ‘These aren’t what we meant when we said we didn’t like posed pictures. These are fun!’ They said they’ve never looked this good in photographs.”

About photography, Monte says, “It’s exciting to see how far you can take it and nail it every time! I believe in it completely and teach it with love and with passion.” —Bob Rose

Camera: Canon EOS 10D
Lens: Canon 28–135mm
f/4 IS Zoom
Memory Card: Delkin
White Balance: ExpoDisc
Light Control: Westcott
4x6-foot panel,
Translucent panel and
27-inch silver reflector
(Monte Illuminator)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!
    Portrait Artists From Photo