Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Model, model on the wall

Model, model on the wall...

When you are taking pictures of attractive models and have lots of time on your hands and the right equipment, the job should be easy, right? It is certainly easier than it would be if some of these circumstances were different. Yesterday everything went my way but after three hours and 300+ pictures, I was dead tired.

And yet I still had to look at the pictures, select the ones I liked and process the best 10%. That's the approximate number of publishable pictures I usually get from a day's worth of shooting. I look at them all in Adobe Lightroom, and immediately give them an "X" (reject) or a "P" (pick) rating. I never delete pictures during a shoot. First of all, it takes up precious time. Secondly, looking at the picture on your small camera monitor, you never know if there might be something interesting somewhere in the picture that you will be able to use. Before I close Lightroom, I delete the rejects so that I do not back them up on the second hard drive.
Then I look at my picks (in this case, 113 of 338) and make basic adjustments. I usually start with cropping. I have to straighten many of my pictures and take away the "boring bits". After I've cropped the picture, I'll make other basic adjustments such as exposure, white balance, contrast, sharpness and a vignette (if called for). Once the picture is in pretty good shape, I give it a "one-star" rating. If the picture really jumps out at me and I say to myself, "Wow! Not bad!", then I give it two stars. I gave 37 of these pictures one star.

The background to this shooting started in April, when Kristina and Sönke posed for our art group in the studio of the Werkstatthaus in Stuttgart. There were a dozen photographers trying to get pictures of the two of them, either alone or together. This time, Sönke wrote and asked if I could take some full-body shots of him for his sedcard (a brief portfolio of pictures for models). Since our art group was looking for something to do, I organized it on the evening of our monthly meeting and three photographers (and one helpful assistant!) showed up.

The thing I learned about full-body shots is that you need a stool or chair to stand on if your model is as tall as Sönke, especially if you want to frame him in front of a nice background. In the picture above, the sun was being reflected from a tall office building across the street, throwing some nice, warm indirect light on the wall. So if the light was so nice and warm, why are all these pictures in black and white? You tell me!

After looking at all the picks of my pics, I saw what a difference good lighting made and how it looked even better in black and white. Of course, in photography lighting is everything, but I sometimes forget that when I have attractive people and interesting backdrops in front of me!
We walked over to the Hamburger Fischmarkt, which opens tomorrow on the Karlsplatz, and used its bright red and green tents and table cloths as backgrounds for our pictures. I thought they looked good together with the models' black outfits. However, in hindsight, I see that the people stand out more if there isn't a bright color vying for attention.

In other pictures, I just thought the simplicity of the lines and the basic atmosphere of the picture was better suited to black and white.

At one point, we were shooting with the sun setting at our back. We got something that looked like this:

Then we moved around to the other side and got some good natural backlighting. I prefer the lighting in the picture below. Of course, there was a little bit of fill-flash used to brighten up their faces.
After nearly three hours, they did a last dance together and while Bärbel and Michael got some more shots of Kristina while Sönke, I went over and got some pictures at one of the outdoor restaurants.

In the end we thanked the people from the Fischmarkt who let us hang out on their "sets". They were very nice and said they hoped to see us when the market begins on Thursday. Will do!


  1. I give my vote for the last picture - it's super :o)

    See you ...

  2. That is a cute one, isn't it? And I like the waltzing picture, too. And of course the one with the backlighting... Ahhhh!

  3. Thank you again for sharing with us all these good tips and what I like most is the way you come up with images and make the presentation stunning. Congrats again for your blog.