My friend Meg popped in on me the other day on her day off. When she’s not working with young children at Nova Play Labs or as a summer camp counselor for Boy Scouts you just might find her on the range where she enjoys competitive shooting, like her older sister, both small bore air rifle women. She helped me out recently when I left my laptop and all my work down on the Goshen Reservation (she brought it home but not before I had chewed off all my nails). So I invited her to come play in my studio.
I like to keep my approach simple. While I do have a home studio with lots of gear its often not as large as I would like it to be. So it forces me to get creative. These days I shoot mostly on a 50% grey backdrop, a charcoal grey backdrop, and a nice clean white backdrop. I like white for social media. It just looks very clean and bright.
The grey allows me many possibilities when playing in post in Photoshop. Once my model is captured on grey its very easy to either cut out my subject or work something in around her, much like a green screen in a video sequence. But I don’t like green. Tried it once. Doesn’t yield the same results for still photography.
Above is one of my favorites of Meg, up against the plain charcoal grey backdrop, which is then layered in Photoshop to look like a textured wall.
That same grey backdrop can be made to go to jet black depending on how you light your subject, how you avoid throwing light on the backdrop, and my camera settings. I like to think this image is much like the classic Hollywood portraits of old. The fur is a family treasure on my wife’s side.
Here is my favorite look on clean white. Its my go-to for social media. Note the background is well lit so as the splash back of light gently rims the left and right cheeks. I am also using a very shallow depth of field on my Canon 105mm fixed lens. I’m using a 1×1 tight crop like on FaceBook or Linked In. Most people are viewing images now on a smartphone or tablet, so its important to use as much of the device area (think pixels) as possible for your image to appear large.
And lets not forget the beauty of the classic black and white. Easy to do in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
Now Meg is ready for a night out on the town. I collect backgrounds where ever I go and especially when on travel. I collect each with a 5-7 different exposure shot on a tripod, then marry them together with Photomatix Pro and Photoshop to render a very detailed high dynamic range image that I can use at a later time. If you really want to know my secret I have always enjoyed the work of, and aspire to be as good as the legendary Joel Grimes. I study him regularly; learning his technique while creating my own style. The background above was captured in a resort south of Cancun Mexico years ago.
On the Kitty Hawk Pier, Kitty Hawk North Carolina. I gave this image a slightly textured look just for kicks. Photography is art and playtime. There is a larger version of the above image at a higher resolution on my 500px Portfolio site HERE.