Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday: "The One That Got Away - Episode #6"

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I hope everybody liked yesterday's lighting tutorial [link]. I know it ran a little long, almost 30 minutes, but I wanted to give you the complete picture (no pun intended) of how versatile reflected light can be on your shoots. It really is a powerful lighting technique.

Canadian Imaging Hey gang, you won't believe it. I got a call yesterday from the Professional Photographers of Canada [link] about their CanadianImaging conference held in Banff next year [link]. For the last few years I've been receiving tons of requests from our Canadian photog friends to bring my programs northward.

Well, good news - we are wrapping the final details to make that happen. The dates are April 16-20.  Here is their website right here for all the details. My program info should be up on their site by next week. I'll keep you posted. I'm really excited to be visiting the Canadian friends of DPT.

"The One That Got Away - Episode #6"

I continue to get emails thanking me for running this series. Thank you as I enjoy writing it too. That said, I’ll keep it coming your way for the next several weeks. Today's post has to do with how the lighting could have been enhanced to really add some sizzle to the image.

Let's first take a look at the first image.

One Away 1

Here is what I like about this image:

1- It is nearly perfect in pose and composition. I like that the maker has the shoulders turned in one direction while her head is turned in the other.

2- The subject placement is right where it needs to be. The bride is positioned with her head in "nodal point #2.

3- Notice too how the lines of the steps in the distance lead  ones eye directly to the bride.

4- Exposure is nicely balanced between the background and the subject.

All well done. So what would I have done differently?  Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

Here is where I would make a few adjustments to the image.

1- Lighting is completely flat on the bride's face. I would say it was coming from an on camera flash. See how the on camera flash flattens the details so much. With so much going for this image, that would be the first place I would begin.

2- OK, what would I have done to improve the lighting? Off camera flash or a reflector could have done the trick. Be sure to review the last image in this post where I show exciting lighting on the bride.

3- This is a very fine point, but I think the bride's left hand could have been posed a bit more gracefully. My suggestion is to have the bride hold the veil with her thumb and middle finger which is what the photog did in this example. Only her hand looks like a “claw” and is unattractive. The final finesse is to have the bride flatten the hand a bit and extend the index finger slightly.

4- One final point, with the bouquet as far forward on the bride's dress, a nasty shadow would have been cast on the dress had off camera light been used. My suggestion is to be aware of where the shadows are going to fall, and reposition the bouquet accordingly pulling it back slightly.

OK, now let's look at our second image.

One Away 2

I know what you're thinking, "It sure looks like the first image to me." And you would be right in thinking that. These images were made during my Master Class this past spring. I was demonstrating how we use reflectors to create a key light or main light on the bride.

I had basically set up the photograph after which the students stepped in and tried to duplicate my image. The second shot is somewhat an improvement on the first in so far as we see a directional light on our bride. A little work in Lightroom could have enhanced it a bit more.

Now look at the third image. This is the one I made.

One Away 3 1- Notice how I refined the hand position of the bride's right hand.

2- Notice how the direction of light, the sun bounced off of a super silver reflector back into the bride's face, really enhanced the image from what we experienced in the first image.

3- Notice too, how the contrast in the third image is better controlled as compared to the second image. What did I do differently? I simply used my on camera flash as a fill light. I dialed the power output down about 2 stops, and set it to "high speed sync" to accommodate the faster shutter speed I was using.

4- A tweak or two in Lightroom to fine tune density and color finished the job.

As you can see from today's discussion, it's really the small things that make a big difference in your final result. And it's understanding how to make these small improvements to your photographs that differentiates you from the composition.

It's your choice to be part of the crowd, or be a leader of the pack.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. We are super busy again today and I've to get back to my real job. Oh, just a quick note - I'm announcing a brand new FREE webcast tomorrow so be sure to stop back for all the details.

I'll see everybody tomorrow for another addition of Business Day Thursday.

Adios Everybody, David


  1. I really enjoy "The One that Got Away" series. It helps me to look more critically through the viewfinder before I shoot. Please keep them coming! :-)


  2. Mr. Ziser,

    I am really enjoying these posts. I am somewhat new to this whole process and have felt very rushed in situations of posing and shooting. Later on, when viewing the results, I really notice the small details. It is nice to know I am not the only one who misses them, but it also reminds me to take control and attempt to eliminate as many smaller problems during the shoot.

  3. Sorry Dave, but they eye is always drawn to the lightest part of the image, and in all these, those steps are brighter than your subject. Need to tone them down a bit so they're less of a distraction (even though, as you point out, they are a compositional element).