The Jasmine Series Part III

I’m really loving going back and re-editing photos and seeing how much I have learned regarding both taking photos and also editing them.

August 8, 2015: Rutgers Community Christian Church, Somerset NJ.

Jasmine studied abroad for the Fall semester, so this was the last time I got to really see her before she left! We both had a free afternoon on this Saturday at church after praise practice on the same team. We took a Sunday school classroom and I set up some simple lighting with two soft boxes. Jasmine brought 4 different outfits to wear, so I’m going to split up photos from this day into two days.

This is my first time trying to use studio lighting for portraiture, and it was not easy. Here are five photos that came out nicely 🙂

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Tried a different type of lighting here:day3yeswater-3

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Lesson #1: Be prepared. Know how you’re going to set up your lighting. I didn’t really know what was doing… so it was not easy to get started. However, it was a good first learning try.

Lesson #2: Make sure, make sure, the subject is in focus. It may look nice from far away, but the photo may still be blurry or out of focus. Using two slow of a shutter speed will cause blur and unsharpness too.  A lot of my photos were off because I didn’t make sure they were coming out sharp and in-focus.

This photo had a cool candid expression from Jasmine, but was out of focus 😦
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Lesson #3: Back up your SD card photos as soon as possible. Don’t put it off! I only imported a couple of photos what were RAW format (more data to edit on Adobe Lightroom). Then I lost my SD card. Most of the photos I ended up having are the .JPGs, which aren’t as nice to edit as RAWs are (RAWS are around 18-24 megabytes, when .JPGs are around 1-9 megabytes). Losing nice pictures are the worst! I took parent/student photos about a year and a half ago for a youth group graduation for 8th graders headed to high school, and then I broke the SD card before backing up the photos. I never got to send those kids and their families their pictures, because the pictures were essentially gone forever!

Lesson #4: When using a muslin or cloth backdrop, IRON THE BACKDROP, or else it’s all wrinkly and bleh. I didn’t iron the backdrop and used wrinkly backdrop. It is hard to edit the photo in a way where the backdrop wrinkles were not so obvious.

Lesson #5: You can only edit so much. The goal of editing is to make the photo look even better.  However, like all things, there can be TOO much editing.

Collage BEFORE AFTER final

Here is an example of the original photo, the edits I made last August, and the edits I made today. Big difference. You can see the wrinkles in the first photo, before editing. In the second one make the whole background behind Jasmine bright white, which looks simple overdone (tried too hard). The final one, used blurs and such to take away the wrinkle, but keep a sense of real shadows in the background.

However, it’s not perfect. You can still tell that there are wrinkles in the background, especially near the subject… so note to self: IRON THE BACKDROP! It’ll make life so much easier

To be continued… check out the rest of the series below!

The Jasmine Series

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Part I

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Part II

 

 

 

 

The Jasmine Series: Part II

Part II: June 26, 2015, Rutgers University – Livingston Campus, Piscataway NJ.

Livingston Campus is the favorite campus of both Jasmine and myself. In fact, even though we attended the same church and youth group growing up, we actually really became friends during freshman year, living on the same dorm floor… on Livi!

I don’t remember how planned out this was. Regarding the pictures, I learned my lesson regarding sunlight and the face shadows it creates at most angles. The first photo I took was taken in an area where it was completely shadowed from direct sunlight (by the student center  building) so the light is even across the photo. I angled the rest of the photos with the sunlight directly behind Jasmine for an interesting effect. The face shadows didn’t appear with this angle either!

However, re-editing the photos, however, I realized that with a lot of harsh, bright sunlight behind a subject, there is a lot of chromatic aberration and purple fringing, where there is unwanted purple colors between the subject and the background. My original edits 8 months ago didn’t account for the fringing. I used to say “the sun is my best friend,” but still gotta be careful!

The most difficult part is that the purple fringing is similar to the pinkish/purple color of what Jasmine was wearing. There is a fringing removal tool in Adobe Lightroom, but when I used it to get rid of the fringing on the borders, it would remove colors from her shirt as well. I had to use more effort to remove as much fringing as I could without ruining the color of the rest of the photo.

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Yesterday, I started the Jasmine Series. Check out Part I (click on the image below)!

The Jasmine Series

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Part I

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Part 3

The Jasmine Series: Part I

It’s been almost a year since I’ve pursued learning the art of photography and all the knowledge, skills and techniques behind it.

I really enjoy astrophotography (pictures of the night sky) the most, but I also love learning about other photography styles, like macro photography and sports photography.

One very important style is portraiture (photos of people) and fashion photography. This is different than candids or photos of events where the subjects of the photo don’t really know they’re being photographed. Instead, the photos have been planned, and subject knows they’re being photographed.

This style is important. But it’s been hard for me to learn. When taking photos of a model, I don’t really know how to direct them. And to have confidence in that takes experience, and to gain experience takes practice and the awkwardness that comes with it.

That’s where Jasmine comes in. She’s been a very close friend of mine since my freshman year, and she loves fashion. So I asked her to help me gain more experience taking portraits.

Let’s be straight here. It’s totally awkward taking a friend out and taking pictures of them. We’re friends, so it’s not like a professional photographer and a model, it’s a friend who likes taking pictures and a friend who dresses well. Big difference. But she was cool enough with the learning curve, and didn’t mind the awkward posing (or not posing) and me standing around with a camera trying to figure out what the heck to do.

Jasmine and I have worked together on four different occasions (that I can remember). Jasmine’s 21st birthday is this week, so I decided to make five posts in five weekdays as a project for myself to get me blogging again and also a thank you to her. The first four days will feature one occasion each. The last one is TBD 🙂

The first occasion was last Spring on April 16th, 2015, at Johnson Park.

Re-editing these photos ten months later, it’s nice seeing what I did/didn’t do well back then. Some photos (like the first one below) came out almost perfectly, and I’m very proud of it. However, there are some obvious flaws even among my favorite shots of that day. The biggest flaw is lighting (like in the second photo below). With the sun as the only source of light outside, the sharpness and quality of the picture will be pretty easy to obtain (fast shutter speeds, higher f-stop numbers and lower ISOs), but where the sunlight comes from is a big deal. With one source of light, there are shadows, even in a person’s face due to the human facial structure or random objects. This can create a portrait where the face has very obvious shadows and dark spots, which is not good even though the photo is nicely composed otherwise (like the second photo below). It’s nice to look back at photos and learn from my mistakes.

Anyway, here you go:

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Look for The Jasmine Series Part II Series tomorrow, Tuesday 3/1/16.

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