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Portrait under northern lights
  
 
Karl Johnston
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p.1 #1 · Portrait under northern lights


Shot in the northwest territories, canada, last night. live on location under the real night sky, real aurora no photoshop compositing




Cute friend of mine, used to model when she was younger i believe, she wanted to pose in something classy at night under the aurora. She's not a pro model, I know, but give me an idea if there's anything that i can improve working with what i have.

Originally we tried for her laying down in the trees, posing dream-like under the stars, but then...there were barely any stars, it was like being in downtown banff, because of the land of the midnight sun effect it's just too light yet this time of year. however we did luck out and get some northern lights. At first we tried flinging some glitter in the air to mimic stars but that didn't really work out very well either. As you can see.




Thoughts, c&c. feedback. tips. tech tips.see the set on my album here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152120093013448.1073741831.215322723447&type=1

I used a variety of set ups and orientations of the light, diffusion panels, one 580 ex i fired multiple times from several different angles. no remotes, just manually popped it off with a thumb. exposure 10 seconds, sometimes faster. iso 1600-3200, in that range, 2.8 aperture. 21 carl zeiss 2.8, 5 d mark ii body.

bout all i can remember



Aug 10, 2013 at 06:49 AM
DaveOls
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p.1 #2 · Portrait under northern lights


I really like the overall pictures, but something is wrong with her legs in #2 and a little in # 3. Her legs look dark and splotchy in the second picture for some reason.
Other than that I think they came out very well. Thanks for posting these.



Aug 10, 2013 at 10:52 AM
xerofun
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p.1 #3 · Portrait under northern lights


DaveOls wrote:
I really like the overall pictures, but something is wrong with her legs in #2 and a little in # 3. Her legs look dark and splotchy in the second picture for some reason.
Other than that I think they came out very well. Thanks for posting these.


Looks to me like super high ISO. Might have wanted to use the old flash the foreground, long expose the background trick


Either way, I'm super jealous of these. Such gorgeous background and foreground!

Thanks for sharing.



Aug 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM
bbourizk
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p.1 #4 · Portrait under northern lights


Fantastic background


Aug 11, 2013 at 02:27 PM
qwyjibo
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p.1 #5 · Portrait under northern lights


Very cool, can't remember seeing any aurora portraits.


Aug 11, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Ian Boys
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p.1 #6 · Portrait under northern lights


I'm sure she's lovely but it looks like these were taken on a phone and they don't do her justice.


Aug 11, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Karl Johnston
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p.1 #7 · Portrait under northern lights


Ian Boys wrote:
I'm sure she's lovely but it looks like these were taken on a phone and they don't do her justice.

haha, tell me specifically what you mean by that...taken on a phone? i'd like to see you do this with a phone lol

but really what do you mean exactly.



Aug 11, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Karl Johnston
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p.1 #8 · Portrait under northern lights


DETAILS!! tell me what you would improve...and what you'd do differently...then i can fix it hahaha, suggestions Ian? let's hear it


Aug 11, 2013 at 07:33 PM
24Peter
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p.1 #9 · Portrait under northern lights


OK, Karl - I really appreciate the effort. This is quite a creative use of the natural environment and portraiture. That said, here are my suggestions:

1. As was mentioned earlier, I think another way to pull this off would be to shoot at low ISO by flashing your subject and having her stand still while you have a long(ish) exposure to burn in the background. You would need a tripod to pull this off and I am not sure how long you would normally expose to get a good Northern Lights image, but the idea is to freeze your subject with the flash (and get a nice low noise exposure of her) and then leave the shutter open long enough to get a good background (if it was really dark, she could even scoot out of the photo after the flash).
2. I realize you are trying to accomplish a lot with one image, but the composition seems off to me. The diagonal line of the road in the first two images just throws me off and the treeline doesn't help either. Perhaps shooting in an open field so there is only one horizon line would have been a better choice.
3. The shadows your model casts and the low angle of your lighting doesn't help here. It (literally) looks like a deer caught in the headlights. I would have lit her from a much higher angle. (I also would have shot her from a lower angle - maybe waist-high to get a more even angle on her body.) And of course it's not gonna look natural, but it would look mighty cool to do a two or three light setup.
4. You mention your friend has modeled in the past, but her poses are awkward at best. She definitely has it goin' on but could have used some direction on maximizing those long limbs and lovely face.
Hope that helps!

EDIT: oh, sorry - I just read the bottom of your post and saw you were using flash. I would have set my camera to ISO 100-400, brought a softbox or umbrella and exposed her for the flash (only pop one - no need for multiple flashes - making the lighting more confusing) and then (if dark enough not to get ghosting) had her get out of the shot and let the background burn in (as I said, a tripod is needed to pull this off).



Aug 11, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Karl Johnston
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p.1 #10 · Portrait under northern lights


24Peter wrote:
OK, Karl - I really appreciate the effort. This is quite a creative use of the natural environment and portraiture. That said, here are my suggestions:

1. As was mentioned earlier, I think another way to pull this off would be to shoot at low ISO by flashing your subject and having her stand still while you have a long(ish) exposure to burn in the background. You would need a tripod to pull this off and I am not sure how long you would normally expose to get a good Northern Lights image, but the idea is to freeze your subject
...Show more

that's what i mean by details. thank you



Aug 11, 2013 at 09:51 PM
 



Ian Boys
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p.1 #11 · Portrait under northern lights


Karl Johnston wrote:
DETAILS!! tell me what you would improve...and what you'd do differently...then i can fix it hahaha, suggestions Ian? let's hear it


Are you serious? Can you not see what is wrong?

OK. Disclaimer first:

None of this is about the model. As I said in my first point, I'm sure she's lovely. The harsher comments below are about how you made her look.

Technical problems:


  1. ISO too high giving grainy effect and poor colours
  2. Shadows boosted too much giving bad noise in dark areas
  3. Subject movement gives blur in #2
  4. The shadows of the legs (x4) in #1 are distracting and odd
  5. Did you turn off long exposure NR? Looks like it.
  6. Different amounts of light on different parts of the body
  7. Odd angles in #1. Yes I realise it's a hill but the photo looks odd.


Problems with how you made her look:


  1. She may have wanted to pose in something classy but it was clearly in the wash. You should have told her. This sail effect with strings isn't flattering. Just look at #2 and tell me that's a good look. And '3. Unless she is actually pregnant in which case congratulations to her.
  2. The grain on her legs makes her look like a lady boy, esp in #2 and #3
  3. Messy hair
  4. Unflattering light makes her look too angular
  5. Poor choice of angle
  6. Poses


So what should you have done?

As 24Peter suggests, low ISO, flattering large softbox shot of her (perhaps with a crosslight) then leave the shutter open and let the bg burn in. And make sure she looks better. Doesn't matter how pretty the sky is if the model looks that bad.

And it's not her. It's you.

Enough details?



Aug 11, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Karl Johnston
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p.1 #12 · Portrait under northern lights


Ian Boys wrote:
Are you serious? Can you not see what is wrong?

OK. Disclaimer first:

None of this is about the model. As I said in my first point, I'm sure she's lovely. The harsher comments below are about how you made her look.

Technical problems:


  1. ISO too high giving grainy effect and poor colours
  2. Shadows boosted too much giving bad noise in dark areas
  3. Subject movement gives blur in #2
  4. The shadows of the legs (x4) in #1 are distracting and odd
  5. Did you turn off long exposure NR? Looks like it.
  6. Different amounts of light on different parts of the body
  7. Odd angles in #1. Yes I realise


Problems with how you made her look:


  1. She may have wanted to pose in something classy but it was clearly in the wash. You should have told her. This sail effect with strings isn't flattering. Just look at #2 and tell me that's a good look. And '3. Unless she is actually pregnant in which case congratulations to her.
  2. The grain on her legs makes her look like a lady boy, esp in #2 and #3
  3. Messy hair
  4. Unflattering light makes her look too angular
  5. Poor choice of angle
  6. Poses


So what should you have done?

As 24Peter suggests, low ISO, flattering large softbox shot of her (perhaps with a crosslight) then leave the shutter open and let the bg burn in. And make sure she looks better. Doesn't matter how pretty the sky is if the model looks that bad.

And it's not her. It's you.

Enough details?
...Show more

that's better, thanks dude.


if you're feeling up to it, more details would be nice please. cheers mate.



Aug 11, 2013 at 11:00 PM
prairietom
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p.1 #13 · Portrait under northern lights


Yeah, you can try all the things written, but in my experience with northern lights, higher ISO and long exposure go together. I think you did well with what you had. As far as grain and a gritty look go, at least with northern lights, you need a new model pro camera that handles high iso well. Northern lights are tough to shoot. Check Spaceweather dot com for experts in Northern lights photography.



Aug 12, 2013 at 03:16 AM
Karl Johnston
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p.1 #14 · Portrait under northern lights


prairietom wrote:
Check Spaceweather dot com for experts in Northern lights photography.

hehe, i've got loads of pics up on there yeah there's some good stuff on there. nice to see the science behind it too, I know more about the legends and traditional stories now than anything, but still v. cool to get diff. perspectives cheers for the tip dude!



Aug 12, 2013 at 03:35 AM
MikeW
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p.1 #15 · Portrait under northern lights


off camera flash + multiple exposure ftw


Aug 12, 2013 at 04:59 AM
Karl Johnston
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p.1 #16 · Portrait under northern lights


MikeW wrote:
off camera flash + multiple exposure ftw

wut



Aug 12, 2013 at 06:02 AM
CW100
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p.1 #17 · Portrait under northern lights


unusual but great background, I agree with some of the other comments about the model and processing



Aug 12, 2013 at 10:40 AM
DaveOls
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p.1 #18 · Portrait under northern lights


I still like them, no matter what other people say. You could have taken a picture of the model in the studio and superimposed it in pp, but that would be cheating.


Aug 12, 2013 at 10:53 AM
Ian Boys
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p.1 #19 · Portrait under northern lights


I like that you did it. I've never even seen the northern lights.


Aug 12, 2013 at 11:55 AM
jfinite
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p.1 #20 · Portrait under northern lights


The compositions and crops are a bit awkward, looks like some perspective distortion (wide angle/closeup) and cutting her off at the feet doesn't work well. Cool bkg.


Aug 12, 2013 at 12:07 PM





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