Monday, February 2, 2009

Portrait Mayhem: An Adventure in Low-Key Lighting

I've recently been reading a great book called Existing Light: Techniques for Wedding and Portrait Photography by Bill Hurter. Here's the link on Amazon for anyone who might be interested enough to purchase the book: Maya was kind enough once again to be my test model so I got out the camera and my trusty flash to try a new technique. I really liked one of the pictures in Bill's book (p.35) done with low-key lighting. I'm pretty happy with the results I'm showing in this post.
I took the color photos in RAW as I always do, and then opened them up in Photoshop CS2 to work on them. Then, I used a wonderful plugin called Imagenomic Portraiture which smoothes out skin tones and imperfections. From there, I used another plugin in Imagenomic called Realgrain, which simulates everything from the look of different types of film grain to various photo processing film emulsions. The one I've used here is called Kallitype at 50% strength, which I like, as it gives a really old-style look to these low-key portraits, making them look as moody as I wanted them to.
In most of them I had the flash positioned so that it lit the upper half of her face more than the bottom half, and in a couple, I positioned the camera and flash so that only the right side of her face was lit. Next time, I want to try using the flash away from the camera and set up to only truly sidelight her face to put the other side in complete shadow. I had a lot of fun as you can see. Hope you enjoy the pictures! Cindy

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