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Archive 2012 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style
  
 
blutch
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


I'm getting ready to do my first ever head shot session for my son and his friend both of which are professional actors. I have been setting up lighting, etc according to the guide provided by Joe Edelman's youtubes on the subject. I would like honest critiques of the two photos I have included below. My wife is the test subject, but the clients will be male. She would KILL me if she knew I posted these publicly. I would like to get the background to be brighter, but this is the best I can do with my available lights. I have a speedlight back there AND two household white lights - Ott Lights used for quilting. Please go ahead and let me have it .. I'm a beginner and welcome all critique.

B

I adjust the white balance based on a suggestion and it replaced the previous images.. the flesh tones are better, but it greyed out the background. I really want a bright, white background.... suggestions?


121014-0040-32.jpg by blutcherama, on Flickr


121014-0040-28.jpg by blutcherama, on Flickr

Edited on Oct 15, 2012 at 02:20 AM · View previous versions



Oct 14, 2012 at 08:43 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


No expert here, but you need to fix the multiple unnatural looking catch lights. The second looks better, the first seems a bit hot. Not sure why you want the background brighter.


Oct 14, 2012 at 08:47 PM
blutch
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Agreed on the catch lights. I see them all the time in this kind of photography, but they don't look like mine do. Any specific suggestions on what to do in LR 4? I have very little experience doing spot removal...

I want the background brighter simply because I am trying to copy the Peter Hurley style of actor head shots. You can see them here: everything is whiter and more washed out, but the background is really blown out. http://peterhurley.com/photography/actors-headshots/broadway/

Thanks!! B



Oct 14, 2012 at 09:01 PM
ben egbert
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Hey, I am a landscape guy, just ignore what I said I had no idea what you were going for here. There are plenty of folks here who can help.


Oct 14, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Personally, I find white backgrounds for portraits very boring. Fine for passport photos though.

Why not take your portraits outdoors with natural background? No need to emulate another photographer's style.

If you are going to do any serious portrait work, I would suggest you master Photoshop.








Oct 15, 2012 at 04:16 AM
blutch
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


These aren't portraits, they are actor head shots... A little different. I also plan to shoot some natural locations as well. I need to learn how to clean up the irises like you did. I have PS, but haven't used it much. I'm open to advise on this topic. I thought this was doable in LR 4.


Oct 15, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Bob Jarman
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


I looked and tinkered, not bothering to re-post but one observation.

In LR4.1, try setting WB on the background and then compare with setting WB on a tooth (I know teeth are not naturally perfectly white). Notice the difference, which I suspect is a result of the two household lamps mixing with the speedlight.

And I will second @Imagemaster about mastering PS.

I see @AuntiPode has not commented - if she stops by she always offers insight and excellent advice.

Regards,

Bob



Oct 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


A couple of Ott lights won't work. You need a much, much bigger source. Look at some of Hurley's videos and you'll see. You are also mixing light sources and you'll never get a good skin tone with mixed lighting.

There are ways to light the background to get a clean white. You need dedicated lights on the background and enough space between the subject and the background to not the the light on one spill on the other.

Don't rush to "fix" the photo by PSing the catchlights. Bad catchlights can be a good indicator, as is the case here, of lighting problems.

As I'm sure you know, professional acting is brutally competitive. Head shots are often the first impression an actor gets to make on a casting director. That's why it's vitally important that your son and his friend have top notch head shots taken by someone with a proven track record, even if it is expensive. To be honest you have neither the equipment nor the knowledge to do a proper job. It would be cheaper to hire a specialist known for their head shots than to buy the proper equipment.

If you insist on shooting, you'd be better off using the open garage lighting used by some of the professional head shot photographers. You'll need to get some large reflectors and possibly one of the folding backgrounds.



Oct 15, 2012 at 12:53 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


dmacmillan wrote:
You are also mixing light sources and you'll never get a good skin tone with mixed lighting.

To be honest you have neither the equipment nor the knowledge to do a proper job.


Doug is spot on here with the above two points ...

The first is regarding the technical issue that you are using mixed lighting that is not possible to globally correct for one area without effecting the other area in a non-corrective manner. In this regard, it requires selective correction techniques, and with the convex/concave shapes of the face, the range of reflective angles presented in mixed lighting scenarios renders it very difficult to do such corrections properly. Far better to be certain of using consistent lighting color for your subject ... see next thread.


On the second point ... not to be critical of your efforts to learn and grow ... we are all very strong advocates of that around here, but, there's an old adage ...


"When you NEED a doctor, get a GOOD one. When you NEED a lawyer, get a GOOD one."


The same can be said for plumber, electrician, mechanic ... and yes photographer. So, when you NEED a photographer, get a GOOD one. Doug's point is that if a person truly NEEDS good head shots, then they should get a photographer who is GOOD at shooting head shots.

Head shots seem like such a simple thing ... but the ultra-critical eye of good agencies can spot the difference between a professional head shot and an amateur production (no matter the style emulated) that "gets by" from a country mile. A "not so good" agency might accept your images, as they may not be as as scrutinizing ... but realize that the head shots won't be seen by just the agency ... but also by prospective clients, AD, etc.

If your headshots aren't good (even if the agency accepts them) ... people may not say squat, but they will PASS and PASS and PASS and ...well, you get the point. The agency is only the middle man, not the decision maker @ getting your boys some $$$. It has been made known to be folly for a person to represent themselves in court when facing serious charges. DIY headshots are the same thing ... you are trying to represent yourself rather than getting a professional that knows his way around the industry (i.e. courtroom by which you will be judged) to advocate for you.

So ... if your objective is to obtain headshots for your son that will advance his career, that is a different thing from embarking on the journey to learn how to produce good head shots. You need to be crystal clear with yourself which objective it is that is your goal.

Both are worthy endeavors ... but they are not one in the same.




Edited on Oct 15, 2012 at 02:30 PM · View previous versions



Oct 15, 2012 at 01:55 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


dmacmillan wrote:
If you insist on shooting



Now ... if you are going to continue to pursue your efforts to produce headshots for your son and his friend (which I understand the convicted effort to try), I'd add to Doug's suggestion with my best advice for doing so ...

RENTAL HOUSE

Go find your local rental house. Explain to them your objectives. Explain to them your inexperience and solicit their experience, guidance and advice regarding how to use the equipment which you rent from them to garner your best outcomes.

A good rental house wants you to become a repeat customer ... either for more rentals, or for purchases. You have a "problem" you are trying to solve. If they assist you in solving that problem ... you'll be a customer for years to come. Good rental houses understand that and can be a very valuable asset to have in your corner. They make for a great learning tool with "try before you buy" and are a wealth of information that is there for those who develop a relationship with them. While you likely can't go ask a pro to give away his trade secrets, the rental house is there to help (for the mere cost of doing business).

I totally get the whole DIY, creative approach to getting more things done, with less available to you. BUT, unless you fully understand all the pitfalls and tradeoffs associated with these efforts, they can be precariously fraught with problems. When you're doing it for fun, or as a learning exercise ... those pitfalls and tradeoffs aren't necessarily a problem. BUT, when you are doing it for REAL against your competition ... hmmm, they just might matter a bit more than you've given credence to.



NOTE: If a local rental house is not an option due to proximity, there are rental houses such as lensrentals.com and others to get your lighting from. They won't be able to offer the same level of guidance at using the gear that a local house can assist with, but they are still an option for obtaining consistent color quality lighting. They will also have various modifiers available to use with the lighting.

Options abound, but here is one example of what a mere $100 can get you for 5 days of gear.

http://www.lensrentals.com/rent/canon/lighting/strobes/dynalite-500w-two-head-radio-studio-flash-kit




Oct 15, 2012 at 02:05 PM
 

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blutch
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


I very much appreciate the comments here. I wasn't very clear on something... These guys are helping me learn to use this setup and to see if I can make it work. They are not after pro headshots. They already have them. They are coming to model for me.

Secondly, I have eliminated the OTT lights from the scenario and have gone to all T-8 florecents.

We do have a local rental house with decent rates. I think it is a good idea to give that a try sometime in the future. For now, i'm just trying to make this work and I haven't had to invest a lot to try it. Had it not been for the Joel Edelman DIY videos I wouldn't have even tried it.

I will say that both Hurley and Edelmann use different lights for the background than they do in the foreground.

Thank you again for the ideas and suggestions! Don't worrry.. I'm not taking work from a real photographer.

B



Oct 15, 2012 at 03:12 PM
blutch
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Oh.. and the speedlight is out of the equation now too. Using 100% all the same light.


Oct 15, 2012 at 03:13 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


blutch wrote:
Don't worrry.. I'm not taking work from a real photographer.


No concerns at taking work away as you learn ... just that we thought you were in NEED of GOOD headshots for the boys' careers.

With that outa the way ... diggin' the effort @ experimentation ... it can serve as a valuable means of learning through trial & error.



Oct 15, 2012 at 03:20 PM
blutch
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Thank you Rusty.. I appreciate your attitude and support of this endeavor. I will post some of the guys after I've done the best I can and see what y'all think. I'm flumoxed on what do do about the long, vertical catch lights.. Edelman has them in his photos, but they aren't nearly as "in your face." Hurley doesn't seem to have them much, but his photos look quite processed to me...not a bad thing, just an observation.

I got an 18% grey card today and hopefully using that will help with the WB issues.

Any other suggestions on this particular setup before i shoot them this afternoon?

Thanks again! B



Oct 15, 2012 at 03:27 PM
silvawispa
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Yes, look at some other styles of actor's headshot!
The hurley ones are nice enough, but not he best. They do have very good marketing though!
http://www.headshotsforactors.co.uk/professional_actors_headshots_london.html

I did some for a client and it was HARD!

I wrote a bit about it here: http://www.thesilverman.co.uk/photoblog/2012/03/in-praise-of-the-strip-light/



Oct 15, 2012 at 05:12 PM
newhaven
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


My take using photoshop -






sRGB, nec2490wuxi2



Oct 15, 2012 at 05:12 PM
blutch
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Newhaven - thank you. Can you tell me what you did exactly? Very interested here.




Oct 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


FYI ...

The first shot is with +100% saturation applied (normal mode) and the second one is +100% saturation (overlay mode). While these are obviously not corrected ... they can help you see the kind of lighting that you put on your subject.

Dial the saturation all the way back (B&W) and you have where the color / WB doesn't reveal itself (sort of). Somewhere between -100% and +100% lives the land that the colors remain, but can be difficult to detect at first glance as our eye/brains do their own accommodation.

One antidote to color casts is to reduce the saturation of that color. When working with mixed lighting / color shifts from multiple sources, these can be present, yet difficult to detect initially. Even professional lighting has some degree of color shift, but the better ones keep it to a minimum. Store bought consumer fluorescent lights might promote themselves as being much better today than the lights of yesteryear, but you may still find that your lights are not matched in color as much as you might think ... so be watchful.

Take particular note of how the different areas of her face present different colors by virtue of the shapes/angles of her face and the different lighting illuminating them. I see a third catchlight in her right eye (camera left) ... what is it? Notice how it isn't in the other eye ... makes me wonder to what degree it is influencing the colors on the side of her face.

Another thing about using continuous lighting, is that it tends to allow more influence from other ambient lighting when using longer exposures / wider apertures, whereas the shorter exposures / stopped down apertures will mitigate their influence.

So, while PP is a marvelous thing ... these are something to help you consider what you are choosing as your tool of choice for illuminating your subject. I can use a screwdriver as a chisel, and for some non-critical applications, it does just fine. The relationship between a craftsman and his tools of choice are rooted in his knowledge of what the tool can (and can't) do, guiding him how to best choose & use them, whatever they may be.

Be judicious and realistic at your expectations ... and have fun with the self-imposed challenge of emulating the technique of others.

















Oct 15, 2012 at 07:05 PM
blutch
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Rusty, that third catch light is a side light. In all I have 10 bulbs facing the subject.

Here are two more shots I did today after working on WB adjustments - used a grey card - and a few minor touch ups in PS. Any better?


studio-1 by blutcherama, on Flickr


studio-1-2 by blutcherama, on Flickr




Oct 15, 2012 at 07:46 PM
newhaven
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Head Shot Tests - Hurley style


Blutch,
I used several techniques to improve color and contrast.

1. Copy the green channel to a new layer and set the blend mode to luminosity. Reduce opacity to about 50% or as needed.

2. Use any adjustment layer (or you could use a copy of the image) set to the multiply blend mode. Mask the effect with a blurred RGB luminosity mask. Adjust as necessary.

3. Frequency separation. Make a duplicate of the low layer. Use the lasso tool to make selections where the color is uneven or blotchy and apply gaussian blur. Look up frequency separation on the web if you are not familiar with it.

4. For color, add two hue saturation adjustment layers. Set the hue slider to +15 on the first one, and -15 on the second. Add black masks to both and paint with a low opacity white brush. This will help to balance the color.

I will attempt to explain more later.

Edited on Oct 18, 2012 at 06:24 AM · View previous versions



Oct 15, 2012 at 07:52 PM
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