Tutorials

Dancing with a Shadow

Both photographs and dance have an innate capability to tell and convey stories and ideas, as with any kind of art form. I have always wanted to portray a story through dance and photographs. Being able to fuse both art forms have always intrigued me because of the many factors involved. How does one art portray another in tandem and with accuracy? I want to explore these ideas. Therefore I asked my dancer friends Marissa Mes and Rafa Siguion-Reyna to model for me. Marissa was part of the final competitors in So You Think You Can Dance in Holland.

The concept for this series was the idea of “letting go”. Letting go of a loved one is always a difficult ordeal. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to let go of everything. One thing you can keep are the great memories that you have of them.

For the shadows of the models in the background, I used a similar technique from one of my older composites. I first took a photo of the models doing the lift together and then a separate one with them reenacting the lift by themselves. I then created a silhouette of the dancers together and used that as the shadow behind the solo dancer. 

For this post, I wanted to focus on how I was able to completely simulate a backlit and ethereal effect using photoshop. This is the original photo taken without any post-processing. I originally wanted a lot of backlight for this series but lacked the amount of natural sunlight due to the cloudy weather.

In Photoshop, I simply created a new layer and used white colored large soft round brushes (0% hardness) with 40% opacity and built it up. I used the color white because I would have more control of its color in Lightroom which would be the last step.

I also added shadows to give it a more realistic look. For this, I added another layer and used the lasso tool to create a rough shape of the shadow then used the radial gradient tool and used the soles of the feet as the center. I finished it up with the Gaussian Blur tool and decreased its opacity.

I then used the masking tool as you can see on the screen shot, to start removing the white on the subjects. I used the round brush with 100% hardness in the inner side of the models then changed it to around 40% hardness around the edges. This simulates a rim light effect to make it look more natural.

Finally, the last step is editing the colors and the contrast using Lightroom. I gave it a warm color to further simulate the light effect. I also increased the clarity of the subjects using the adjustment brush, isolating the effect from the background. Here is the final image:

I edited these photos mainly using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom 4. I also used Portrait Professional Studio for retouching. If you have more questions on how I produced these images, feel free to comment here or post on my wall on facebook.

website | facebook | flickr | behance instagram

Live in a Dream

The idea and concept for this shoot came to me when I had a conversation with a friend and she told me that she would rather live in her dreams than in reality. Her story struck me because it made me question reality and what it would feel like to live in an eternal dream.

I have always wondered what boundaries exist between dream and reality. What would it take to live in an eternal dream in where you can have complete control of the world? With the series, I question our reality and how its connected to dreams. Our dreams are an entry way to another kind of reality. I believe that if we have full control of our dreams, it could be a fully realized reality just as much as the one we live in now.

The model for this shoot is Olivia Medina and she is doing a lot of great work. She is a professional model and was recently the cover model for Rogue magazine.

This was the first time I worked with a professional model that wasn’t initially one of my friends and it was very intimidating. However, working with professional models is very rewarding because they know their angles very well. She saw my work on facebook and thus we ended up collaborating for this shoot. This is why it is important to share your work to the public even when you’re just getting started. The best way to spread you work out is through websites like Flickr or Facebook. Don’t be scared of criticism but rather accept it. You miss out on a lot of opportunities if you don’t.

I used three different locations for this shoot. The first location we shot at was on a yacht provided by a friend of mine. The next is actually the house next to mine back in Manila. They had torn their house down to build a new one and I just couldn’t resist. I didn’t know the owner of the lot so we had to sneak in, totally worth it. Always keep your eyes opened for locations that would be great for a shoot. The last location was a furniture showroom that again was provided by a friend.

For the concept to fully realize itself, I had to make sure that I had the correct lighting. I timed my shoot in each location so that I could use the sun to my advantage. This is very important when planning a photo shoot. Always keep the sun and its light in your mind.

According to a lot of great photographers out there, the best investment you can make aside from your camera would be lighting equipment. Ambient light will always be the best kind of light but it is also very hard to control.

It was about 3pm when we finished setting up for our first shoot. It was a great day out but there wasn’t a lot of clouds in the sky so the sun light wasn’t diffused and created really harsh shadows. There are a couple ways to lighten up these shadows, one is a reflector and another is a secondary light source. Light sources can range from a flash light, a speed light to studio strobes.

Reflectors are an essential to a portrait photographer and I highly advice you getting one. They are not so expensive and they can easily improve your portrait photographs. I found one in Amazon that works perfectly, Neewer 110CM 43″ 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector. You can easily change this reflector to different things to suit your needs. I used it as a diffuser for this shot.

I used a combination of the diffuser and a secondary light to decrease the harsh contrast on the model.

Here is the whole series: “Live In A Dream”

I edited these photos mainly using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom 4. I also used Portrait Professional Studio for retouching. If you have more questions on how I produced these images, feel free to comment here or post on my wall on facebook.

website | facebook | flickr | behance instagram

Shersy Clothing Photoshoot

This was probably the most challenging shoot I had over the summer. I was asked by a friend if I could do some fashion photography for her Shersy Clothing upcoming launch. Since it was for a friend, it was a little casual. However, I still wanted to make my photographs as professional and as impressive as possible. Unfortunately, I really didn’t have any experience in fashion photography. To make things worse, I was working with two models. If you’ve been in my situation before then you would know that it’s not ideal. If you haven’t then I have some tips for you.

Do Your Research:

We are bombarded with images everyday and the key is to look out for photographs that stand out. Then use those photographs as an inspiration for your shoot. You can find a lot of great images over the internet or fashion magazines. It is also a good idea to communicate with your client. Ask them how they want their photographs done. However, don’t completely depend on their response because the final image is still up to you and your style. They asked you to photograph for them for a reason.

Get Pegs:

A lot of professionals will create their pegs to show the photographer. However, if that is not the case, then you will have to make your own. This is the best way to make sure that you get the shots that you want.

Be Prepared:

Make sure that you have everything you need for the shoot, and I mean everything. If you think you might need a certain equipment, just bring it. Prepare all of your equipment ahead of time and make sure that everything works fine. For more tips, check out my previous post on setting up your own shoot. 

Shersy Clothing Photoshoot:

The models for the shoot were Winnie Wong and Mara Javier. They were both great models to work with. Plus, both of them were my friends so they were easier to work with. For this shoot, I was using my Nikon D800 with either a 24-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and a 50mm f/1.4. I also used both of my Elinchrom D-Lite4’s with softboxes attached. Other than that, I had a circular reflector, which is essential when doing portraiture.

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/320, Aperture f/3.5

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/320, Aperture f/3.5

I found it very difficult to direct the models at first because of my lack in experience. According to most professional photographers, this is one of the most difficult skills to learn in photography. It takes a lot of practice and observation. I agree completely. Practicing this skill of directing models will be most beneficial if you are planning to be a photographer. One tip I have is to create little stories for each shot, so that your model can understand what you are trying to achieve.

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/250, Aperture f/4.5

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/250, Aperture f/4.5

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/250, Aperture f/5.6

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/250, Aperture f/5.6

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/500, Aperture f/4.5

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/500, Aperture f/4.5

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/320, Aperture f/4

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/320, Aperture f/4

Make sure that you portray both the clothes and the model in a good light because at the end, you are trying to sell. Your priority is to sell and I am sorry to say this but if your style conflicts with that, you have no choice but to find a compromise. For this shoot, I was asked to keep the colors of the clothes as natural as possible. That limited my creative control over my pictures. A tip I can give you is to edit and create two separate sets of photos, one for your client and one for your portfolio.

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/200, Aperture f/4.2

Nikon D800, Shutter Speed 1/200, Aperture f/4.2

When doing locational shoots (outside the studio) there are a lot more factors involved that you have to take account. You have to be able to quickly adapt to a changing environment. That is why I always carry my strobe units (flashes) and my reflector, as it gives me more control of the environment.

I edited these photos mainly using Adobe Lightroom 4. I also used Portrait Professional Studio for retouching. If you have more questions on how I produced these images, feel free to comment here or post on my wall on facebook.

If you liked any of the clothes featured in this post, then check out Shersy Clothing’s facebook page.

website | facebook | flickr | behance instagram