Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I use Photoshop


I encountered a photographer's profile on ModelMayhem with "I DONT USE PHOTO SHOP OR AIRBRUSH" - I'm not sure how that's generally intended to be interpreted.

I shoot raw images and all my shots have had some manipulation in Lightroom and possibly Photoshop. Other than tonal manipulations, the amount of retouching will vary. I'll remove skin blemishes and I'm not adverse to using the liquify filter to tidy an edge or nudge a curve. My intent is always to create images that look realistic - I don't believe I overcook my skin processing and I know that I'm not a good enough retoucher to perform extensive manipulations in liquify. What definitely don't do is create featureless plastic faces or Barbie doll curves.

I don't have a problem with retouching to create a flawless complexion. Done right, it can produce a stunning image. Done badly, it can spoil the image. I regularly see images where I think "lovely shot, but what did you do to her face?!" (I think this is especially true when applied to anything other than a beauty headshot).

My current workflow uses Lightroom extensively. I generally only use Photoshop for pixel editing tasks and almost all other manipulations are performed in Lightroom (some before and some after the Photoshop edit).

My models aren't plastic. I hope I never deliver an image that makes them look it.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The studio


Our studio space has changed a lot over the last year. We've redecorated completely, including the hardwood floor and new woodwork (we'll finish the hall and stairs eventually).

The most recent change is the addition of a pair studio poles to support the rolls of background paper. Previously it was just a single roll of charcoal seamless on my backdrop stands, but that was expensive on floorspace and really required two people to operate - the poles support three rolls of paper (white, charcoal and black) and the expansion drive fittings make it so easy to use. Not only did we get back the floorspace eaten by the legs of the backdrop stands, but we also get close to another foot of shooting distance too.

This is the setup we used for Fiona's shoot with Katy_T - just a single light with the large octagonal softbox.

EntropicTendencies - the studio space

The window (behind me in that shot) gives lots of nice light too. The floor and the neutral wall feature in lots of recent shoots.

The room is about 18' x 12' - the 50mm lens can get a lot of use for full length shots, but often 70mm is ok for shorter models.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Gear, fanboys and foolishness


"Canon" ... that's my answer when asked what gear I use. For some reason, many people want more details (as if the image is special because of the camera/lens used). It's amazing how many photographers are fixated on the gear (and endlessly discussing it on Internet forums). I must admit that I like new kit and technology, but I've long grown past the point where I have the time and inclination to debate it (or watch others debate it).

The camera is just a tool. The more expensive gear might offer higher resolution and better image quality, but it doesn't compose better shots. Of course the higher end kit does generally handle better and, for something like moving horses, the auto-focus doesn't miss as often - that means more good shots. So, the high-end gear might make it easier to get some shots, but it doesn't actually make more striking photographs (pixel-peeping doesn't count).

I made a choice of Canon when I first bought a dSLR (the competing Nikon offering back then wasn't as appealing). For anyone with a reasonable investment in gear, I can't see any sensible justification to even consider changing brand (and there isn't any point in shouting about it in forums).

It's the same with computers. I'm now switching to a Mac laptop - mainly because I've outgrown my current Dell Windows laptop and the Macbook looks to be the right tool to do what I need. Just like camera gear, so many people have their small-minded biases. When I spend most of my time in e-mail/browser/Lightroom/Photoshop, it really doesn't matter what's under the hood (as long as it just does the job). I'll still use Windows (I can't see me justifying the funds to replace my desktop PC with a Mac any time soon!) and I run a mixed Windows/UNIX server infrastructure.

Feel free to spend all your time in web forums, but I'd rather spend my time taking photos.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Chrissie Red (NSFW) 18/8/10


I've admired Chrissie Red's work since I joined UKPM last year. I think it's largely been a matter of timing that I hadn't arranged a shoot before now.

There was a possibility that I was going to shoot some headshots for a MUA in Glasgow, but since that was just jerking me around I decided that now was the time to arrange a shoot with Chrissie. Since we confirmed it the day before, this wasn't overly planned - I'd collect Chrissie in Perth, we'd go to the beach and then we'd wing it.

After a long trek through the woods and up the beach we found these concrete blocks to work with:

Chrissie Red - beach nude Date: 18 August 2010 © Copyright 2010 Barrie Spence

After a while we moved on and found some trees:

Chrissie Red - beach nude Date: 18 August 2010 © Copyright 2010 Barrie Spence

It was a good day out - lots of good shots and fresh air. There are more shots in the full gallery and I'll add more later.

[Full Gallery - Chrissie Red nudes]

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Katy_T nudes 11/8/10 & 12/8/10 (NSFW)


Katy_T is based out of Arizona, but she visits the UK a couple of times a year and suggested that I might want to shoot with her when she was in Scotland. We split a full day shoot between the Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

The plan was a mixture of studio and outdoors - I'd found a couple of locations, but given the changeable weather we really couldn't plan it exactly.

As it turned out, the weather really didn't really look like it was going to work for us on the Thursday afternoon, so that made it an easy decision - we'd start in the studio. Again, just like other recent shoots, it was a very simple environment - bare wall, hardwood floor and lots of natural light from the window.

Katy_T studio nude - natural light Date: 12 August 2010 © Copyright 2010 Barrie Spence

These two were actually taken on the Friday morning when we had space to use the door frame:
Katy_T studio nude - natural light Date: 13 August 2010 © Copyright 2010 Barrie SpenceKaty_T studio nude - natural light Date: 13 August 2010 © Copyright 2010 Barrie Spence

This is our first shot outdoors on the Friday morning:
Katy_T woodland nude Date: 13 August 2010 © Copyright 2010 Barrie Spence

We also spent some time on the bridge over the canal:
Katy_T woodland nude Date: 13 August 2010 © Copyright 2010 Barrie Spence

Kate had another shoot booked in the afternoon, so we finished a bit early - with the plan to use the remaining time in the evening after dinner ... but it ended up with Fiona shooting that bit (studio: single big softbox and white seamless), so those are her pictures to process and display.

There are more shots in the full gallery and a whole pile more that deserve to be displayed - I'll post more when it's a rainy day.

[Full Gallery - Katy_T nudes]

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Old stuff - Thirlestane Horse Trials 2006 (cross-country - the water jump)


I don't make any effort to attend equestrian events purely to take photos, but when we do go for a day out we take the cameras.

Thirlestane was always a good day out (though this was pretty miserable weather) and the water jump was always a good point as a spectator.

I'm always impressed with the bravery of the horses and riders to jump this sort course ... and there are always some classic expressions :D

Thirlstane Horse Trials 2006 - Cross-country water jump Date: 20 August 2006 © Copyright 2006 Barrie Spence
Thirlstane Horse Trials 2006 - Cross-country water jump Date: 20 August 2006 © Copyright 2006 Barrie Spence
Thirlstane Horse Trials 2006 - Cross-country water jump Date: 20 August 2006 © Copyright 2006 Barrie Spence

[Full Gallery - Thirlestane Castle Horse Trials 2006 - Cross-country 20-Aug-06]

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Sub-zero - Kellie Laplegua (NSFW)


These shots are from my shoot with Kellie Laplegua last December. It truly was sub-zero - it was a foggy -3C when I'd collected Kellie from Glasgow earlier that morning.

These might have worked in the original colour (the light gives some very nice glowing highlights in Kellie's hair), but I wanted to stick with my original plan of black and white.

I'd wanted to shoot something darker and rawer than art nude and shooting with Kellie offered a good opportunity.

Kellie Laplegua Date: 13 December 2009 Filename: Kellie_Laplegua_2J2U0019-Edit © Copyright 2009 Barrie SpenceKellie Laplegua Date: 13 December 2009 Filename: Kellie_Laplegua_IMG_3708-Edit © Copyright 2009 Barrie Spence

Kellie Laplegua Date: 13 December 2009 Filename: Kellie_Laplegua_IMG_3715-Edit © Copyright 2009 Barrie SpenceKellie Laplegua Date: 13 December 2009 Filename: Kellie_Laplegua_2J2U0064-Edit © Copyright 2009 Barrie Spence

Kellie Laplegua Date: 13 December 2009 Filename: Kellie_Laplegua_2J2U0084-Edit © Copyright 2009 Barrie SpenceKellie Laplegua Date: 13 December 2009 Filename: Kellie_Laplegua_IMG_3771-Edit © Copyright 2009 Barrie Spence

Content aware heal in Photoshop CS5 has even allowed me to save some shots which I felt had been spoiled by the hasp on the cage.

Just a pity it took me so long to get these processed!

[Full Gallery - Kellie Laplegua]