A cameo in porcelain - If you for shoot for long enough, you'll get lucky... sometimes.
Updated: 08 April 2022
This is Katie Green. This was her first pro beauty shoot. At this point all she wanted was to be a model. She turned up at the location as keen as mustard, with a bag of clothes, full of questions about how to be a model.
She was completely unaware that she had a porcelain complexion, even without make up. We discussed the look, and set about making her up with a very flat, clean look and very defined dark red lips, with a wet look glaze, that would work with the direct lighting that we had planned. I couldn't help myself. It was just too tempting to give her this look, like a classical Victorian porcelain doll.
After the make up artist spent a couple of hours making up her face, neck and arms, we went through the clothes that she had brought to the shoot... The more astute amongst you will notice that the sleeveless top has a traditional willow pattern printed on it, often used on porcelain ceramics throughout the centuries. Sometimes, I just get lucky. It's a perfect compliment, that echoes her porcelain skin. The pearl collar and bracelet add a classical element that echoes past heroines and sirens alike. Her natural pose was a steal.
What did I do? I just clicked the button.
I hope you enjoy viewing the image - Colin
Katie - The old railway track - Collingbourne Kingston, Wilts, UK
Katie has since gone on to have a successful career in modelling in the UK.. If you would like to leave a comment, please do so below...
Pixel Peepers' Notes & Newbie Hints & Tips:
Sony A7R II 70-200 GM f2.8 @ f4 1/60 sec - (180mm) On a Tripod - Cropped Square(ish)
Location: We are on an abandoned railway line that was closed during the Beeching Closures here in the UK.
The model is in the shade.
The hard shadows are produced by two Metz Mecablitz 60 CT4 Units flashlights running off of battery packs*. They both have circular soft boxes. That's why the key lights in Katie's eyes the are large and defined. (A little too harsh I think, if I am nit picking). The flash has also frozen the hair, as it blows in the gentle breeze.
Metz Mecablitz 60 CT4
The Sony FE 70-200GM 2.8 lens does it again!
Smooth skin tones, with tack sharp eyelashes. I've added the 1:1 crop below so that you can see the detail and the softness.
Another reason I added this is so that you can see where the make up has been professionally applied below the eyes. Look how blended it is...
And the not so good?
Take a look at the top lip. You can also see where the application is not as blended as you can see the painted on gloss. There's really no where to hide with modern sensors and lenses.
Lastly, note where the lights are positioned. They are effectively flooding light on both sides of the face. This gives highly defined detail, with minimum shadows on the face. This adds to the flat look, specifically on the face. And, of course for this shot that is the brief.
Further to this, you can see a change in the lighting from shot to shot that we were trying to achieve by comparing a shot from earlier before we moved the lights by clicking here
Katie 1:1 - 100% - Screen Grab
Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) Import Settings: Very little unsharp masking was applied to this shot. ACR adds 40 as standard. I bumped it up to 53ish, and masked some noise that was appearing in the foliage in the background. I added saturation (applied locally with the paint brush tool) to both the greenery, to add verdancy to the greens, and a very small amount to the lips to increase the intensity of the lipstick and the reflections. It didn't need much, as it had already been very well made up, or, "pretouched" by the MUA. I also added around 1/2 stop of exposure around the eyes, centred under them.
The rest is all Katie, and what her parents gave her.
This was all done in ACR as part of the grading process before importing into Photoshop.
Newbie Note: The tools available in both Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw (and othe packages) allow us to make significant adjustments to the RAW file "before" importing. This is an important distinction, as it means that we are not adjusting the files in any way until the last possible moment. Using techniques like this are referred to as "non destructive".
No pixels are altered by retouching in the creation, processing, development or grading of the image.
"How does it work then?"
What it's doing is, adding meta data to a rider file, or sometimes, to the RAW file itself dependant on your preferences. This is an .XMP file. The way it works is that when the software package opens a RAW file it looks for an associated .XMP Metadata file with the adjustments in it. If it finds adjustments it applies the settings to the RAW file. If not, it will display the file using the data provided by the camera. Very clever indeed. You can find more info on this by clicking here
"Why are you using old flashes?"
I have 6 Metz flashes in the kit. They must be at least twenty five years old, minimum!
I bought them all second hand on ebay. I found a company in Singapore that make replacement LI-ION batteries for the packs. This gives them a blisteringly fast recycle time, and the battery is good for at least 200 cycles at full power before requiring a charge. This makes them very flexible and reliable indeed. One simply does not need the latest kit. This kit is good for another decade of use.
By using this inexpensive tech I can have many units. If a flash head goes wrong, I simply add it to my recycling bin and buy another one. They are cheaper to replace, than to repair. I see this as doing my bit for the planet and giving these old units a new lease of life. They have a guide Number of 60 @ ISO100. The flash duration is very fast, not up to modern standards, but as is the case with most kit, it's more than adequate for most needs. If I was shooting an ice skater, or a hummingbird, I may need something faster, but for lifestyle and fashion they are more than fine.
Note: I checked the flash speed, and at full power the duration is 1/200 sec, at 1/256 power they fire at 1/8500 sec. There are 9 settings in total. As I say, very flexible. I may even catch that hummingbird. Lastly, I can't see any discernible shift in colour temperature throughout the range, but then, I'm shooting RAW, so they work just fine.
PS: If I remember correctly this is the second shoot I did on a Sony Alpha Camera (borrowed!)