Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy New Year, and welcome Will (also PP - Example 4 : Glamour Glow)

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope Santa was kind to you over Christmas - he was to me.  I got a whole bunch of lighting stuff, including a Yongnuo 565EX flash and another Cactus v5 unit to trigger it, a 60cm softbox, a snoot with grids that can fit on one of the flashes, a couple of light stands, a couple of flash brackets, a flash bracket on a huge bulldog clip, and a whole bunch of grips for holding up backdrops, reflectors, etc.  I am looking forward to doing some product and portrait photography using all my new gear, and my New Year's Resolution is to try and build the confidence to do some 'proper' portrait work - we'll see how that goes ;-)

The other thing I got - 3 days after Christmas - was a grandson to take photos of.  He came along a month early and caught us all on the hop, but now he is 2 weeks old and life is beginning to settle down again (though his parents probably think differently).  Here is a picture of William (Will) Smith aged 2 weeks.

I've given this shot a bit of PP, which I'll describe for you (this is a photography blog, after all).  The first thing I did was to do a little colour correction, lightened it a little, etc., and then desaturated it to monochrome (why bother with the colour corrections first?  Well, it does actually make a difference, believe it or not.  It isn't really something I can easily explain, but try it and you'll see what I mean.)  Once desaturated, I played with the lighting again a bit more, and then did a little 'glamour' trick I learned... duplicate the layer, and then apply a fairly substantial Gaussian Blur to the top layer - I used 25 pixels radius.  Then reduce the opacity on the top layer to let the sharp layer below begin to partially show through - I reduced mine down to about 30%.  This gives the image a nice soft 'glow' without it looking out of focus. Finally, I applied a layer mask to the top layer and painted black on the eye to let the catchlights shine through sharply, without any of the Gaussian Blur applied.

I have been charged to do a picture of Will every month for the first year, to go in one of those special photo frames that has a slot for each month.  At the moment, Will couldn't care less about me snapping away all the time, but I think it's already wearing thin with Mum & Dad, so it may be a challenge to get access to him every month for his official portrait - we'll see.

I've also started putting pictures into Project Flickr again this year (running for its third year now?)  The first theme of the year was Happiness - which seemed quite appropriate given that we had a new addition to the family, and it prompted me to start it up again.  Next week's theme is Body Parts, and I had been planning to try and get a few shots of Will's tiny feet and hands - so they could be appropriate entries (once again - if I get the opportunity...)  I know that I won't last the whole year at Project Flickr - I have a few busy periods this year where I know hobby time will have to take a back seat for a while, as well as a spell over in China where internet access is severely restricted, and many 'social' sites like flickr and facebook, are forbidden or censored.  Having said that, I am looking forward to going back to China again, as I will have 3 days to myself while I am there, to wander around with my camera, and see what I can photograph.

OK - well that's my news for now.  Over the coming months, I am sure that Will will probably be featuring from time to time, and I'll also post some of my experiments with all my new lighting gear - which I am really looking forward to playing with.  Post a reply below telling what pressies Santa brought for you, and if you made any New Year Resolutions  - especially photographic ones.  I'd love to hear from you.

Until the next time
Happy Snappin'

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