Animating my Drawing Series

As previously described I will be animating one of my portraits with a drawing on top of it. To get you all excited for the process I made this quick gif which animates one of my drawings. If anyone is interested in knowing how I made this just ask. It was quite easy once I figured out how to save the gif itself. 



I put together this short video showing how I retouch a single image for my drawing series. This technique is not recommended for all forms of photography, but in  this instance it worked. Since we were going for a more painterly look I brushed in some color to help create a more pleasing aesthetic. In a few days I will be creating the drawing for this photograph in illustrator and animating it in After Effects. Usually I do this by hand, but I wanted to try something new to let you all see my interests in video production. I have experience creating animations, stop motion videos, cinema-graphs and video shorts. This is not a skill that I broadcast very often so I hope you all are interested in seeing what I can create :)

Until then here is my retouching video:

Here is the before and after:



Behind The Scenes - Constructed Set

Although I am not going to talk much about creating this set I hope that these images help you to understand what goes into creating a set like this. 

Here is a list of materials used: 
- (6) Sheets of Drywall
- (16) 2x4 Blocks of Wood
- (2) Boxes of Screws
- (2) Cans of Paint
- (1) Can of Primer
- (1) Box of Nails
- (Approx. 10) Pallets of Wood
- (Approx. 4) Corner Bead
- Drywall Tape
- Drywall Mud
- Drywall Knives
- Sanding Block
- Skill Saw
- Impact Driver
- Drill
- Tape Measure
(will add more as soon as I hear from the set builder)

Here are some images from this shoot:

Fast Fashion

I have been working as the photo editor for Positive Negative Magazine since the beginning of September. My experience has been incredible not only being able to assist photographers and designers to create magazine worthy projects, but also to produce my own work for the magazine. I have been working with a few different mediums to produce three articles that are going to be published in the magazine. In one story, I used multiple cell phone cameras to photograph my subject to show the benefits of phone cameras in the photographic industry. In another article, I used fabric to create a still life and in the third I used fire as a medium to paint an image of a power plant.

 I would like to share with you one of my most interesting projects for the magazine. The story is called fast fashion and it discusses how the fashion industry has produced products similar to fast food chains - cheap products at mass quantities. Of course we all love those stores because they are so affordable but there are reasons for that. Many of these stores use sweat factories to produce their clothing and it is not fair to companies that use legitimate sources. 




Here is a behind the scenes look at how we achieved this:


I cannot express to you how difficult it was to get this shot and to make it look as realistic as possible. The biggest struggle was trying to balance all of these different shapes on top of each other, it really was just this lopsided mess for the longest time until we figured out the right order to place all of these clothes so that they could sit easily on each other. We went from having the lettuce under the burger to having the tomatos below and the lettuce on top, then we tried the onions on the bottom, so on and so forth. We had to change up the order and the quantity so many times until we found the perfect match. I am so proud of this piece especially because I do not consider myself to be a still life photographer. I do it and I love it but it is not my specialty so I am really glad that Liz and I were able to accomplish this.





On another note, looks can be deceiving, although this looks like a beautiful sandwich the truth is that behind that piece is a long tail of fabric. We did not want to cut any of the garments so there is just a ridiculous amount of fabric hanging behind it. 

Retouching a Cell Phone Photograph

Most cell phones shoot jpeg imagery which means that there is not a lot of room to retouch imagery. Most cell phones do not shoot very good quality images and so it is difficult to make adjustments to an image. As my previous blog entry states, I recently shot an entire editorial with a variety of cell phones. I have completed retouching the images and have worked with a designer to complete the spread. This entry is to discuss my findings when it comes to retouching and to give some suggestions to photographers who are interested in shooting with cellphones. 

In order to produce a good quality image you must:

1. Have good lighting conditions
Use daylight balanced continuous lighting
Do not mix light - tungsten, incandescent, daylight

2. Get it right in camera
If you don't like what you see, keep trying until you can make it better, it will be impossible  to fix it in post

3. Keep things consistent
When shooting a series of images, make sure that all of the lighting appears to be consistent, this way you don't run into any issues regarding skin tones - it is nearly impossible to correct skin tones that are dramatically different.

4. Work with a model that requires little skin retouching
A cell phone photograph is not suited for beauty or close-up shots. There is not much you can do for massive skin retouching so selecting a model that requires as little work as possible will save you from producing a bad job for your client or for your personal work.

5. When retouching - make all of your adjustments in one go.
Once you open a jpg file you automatically change the pixels. Every time you close and reopen that file you are destroying image information. 

6. Use non-destructive retouching techniques - always use layers. 
Try your best not to make any permanent changes to the image. You don't have much wiggle room to correct any problems with previous damaging retouching you did.

Here are the images that I retouched:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 1.38.39 AM.png
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 1.39.00 AM.png

As you can see from my samples above, the biggest issue I had was skin color consistency. The red image is completely off and when I tried to lighten her skin it looked grey. So lighting is extremely important. You have to keep your lighting consistent and make slight adjustments when necessary to ensure that the skin color of your model always looks the same. 

The other issue that I had was adjusting the background color. As you can see I have three very different colored backgrounds. When I shot these images they were not what you see. The yellow-green background was a much darker yellow, the red one was a bright red and the blue was a dark green background that photographed yellow-green. In order to change the backgrounds I had to completely remake the background in photoshop. Altering the original colors brought out all of the pixels and only had a small amount of wiggle room to adjust brightness, contrast, and the color itself. In order to get the best background possible I had to remake it. Thats why I am saying it is incredibly important for you to get things right in camera. It will save you a lot of time and will help make your life easier. 

The next issue I had was correcting skin issues. The skin on my model is extremely pixelated so there wasn't a lot of spaces to pull information from to correct the issues and even though I managed to do a good job, I couldn't correct everything. 

Color consistency is also difficult, not just with skin tones, but also with the background. As you can tell the two blue backgrounds are not the same. This is because one utilized the original background and the other was constructed in photoshop. Even when using the eyedropper to get the color of the background it was not accurate, so there are additional adjustments you have to make to ensure everything is consistent. 

Although I could not fix everything I do feel the images look nice and when blown up to 8.5x11 the images did look good, but I would not suggest going any larger. 

Here is the final spread:


Cell Phone Photography

Over the weekend, I shot a series of images for Possitive Negative magazine with a variety of cell phones. I tested the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, Motorola Droid Ultra, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The article was discussing how cell phones can be used in professional photographic settings. For this I did a series of portraits, close-ups of the body and this weekend I will shoot still lives for it. 

Here is what I have noticed about the image quality:

All of these cell phones need help producing better color. For this project I shot on four brightly colored backdrops: red, blue, green and yellow. The best color was on the red backdrop for all cell phones and the worst was green. The colors all seem very desaturated and light toned. 

I also noticed that color consistency was an issue, especially with the iPhone 6. This is an example of three shots taken right after each other with the same focus point.

These are all off-takes from this series, not images used for the actual project, but this is how you can see the color has shifted. The lighting remained the same but the images went from being extremely warm toned to cool toned. I'm not sure why this happened but in each image I was focusing on the models face. This information is extremely disappointing for me to see as I would have expected that the iPhone 6 would have made adjustments for this as it is top of the line.

I also noticed that the iPhone 6 oversharpens its images. The following image is zoomed into 100% to show you what the image looks like.

As you can see all of the marks on her forehead are extremely prominent. The area around her lips seems very pixelate

The aspect ratio is different depending on the phone: 

iPhone 6 - 1334 x 750  - 8MP

iPhone 6 - 1334 x 750  - 8MP

iPhone 5c  - 640 x 1136  - 8MP

iPhone 5c  - 640 x 1136  - 8MP

iPhone 4s - 640 x 960  - 8MP

iPhone 4s - 640 x 960  - 8MP

Motorola Droid Ultra - 720 x 1280 - 10 MP

Motorola Droid Ultra - 720 x 1280 - 10 MP

Samsung Galaxy S6 - 1440 x 2560 - 16 MP

Samsung Galaxy S6 - 1440 x 2560 - 16 MP

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - 1440 x 2560 -   16 MP

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - 1440 x 2560 -   16 MP

As you can see from the examples above, the droid phones tend to have longer image files than the iPhone images. I cannot say that this is true for all phones but fo the images in this study it does prove to be true. 

In addition, you can see that the Motorola Droid Ultra had issues with the color white. The womans pants are over exposed and cannot be repaired by retouching them. (The above image has had some editing but any further and the pants become grey).

The cell phones also have varying degrees of distortion, usually in the top and the bottom of the image. This proved to be quite annoying to correct as lightroom does not have lens corrections for android phones. It does have correction software for Apple products, but it didn't seem to fully correct the image. Some manual adjustments were still necessary.


On a brighter note, I was pleased with the quality of Samsung Galaxy S6, which produces a 16 MP image. This is the hightest quality of the cell phones that I tested. Currently, there is a cell phone, the Nokia Lumia 1020, which produces 42 MP images (this is better than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and most cameras on the market). This cell phone obviously isn't as good as the 42 MP image but in terms of the cell phones I worked with it held up very nicely. I was quite pleased at the quality, although I was expecting the iPhone to produce equally as good quality since advertisements and billaboards are made with this cell phone. However, this was not what I found. The Samsung Galaxy S6 produced very nice images - they were clear and crisp.


Future of this project:

This week I am working on retouching the images from this shoot so I can let you know how well these images can be altered. All of the images are jpg files so I do fear that there will not be a lot of wiggle room, but I will see what I can accomplish. 

I will also be printing the images and working with a designer to put he spread together for the magazine. I will let you all see it when it is complete.

Behind the Scenes from Last Weeks Shoot

September 19th and 20th I did a shoot with three models: Leann Overmyer, Jess SanGiacomo and Jessieka Martinez-Soto. This shoot involved two sets: a white backlit set and a black one. The two scenes have very different lighting set-ups and today I am writing to let you know how I produced the blown out white background look.


White Set: 

- (2) Large Softboxes
- (2) White Flats
- (3) C-Stands
- (2) Rolling Stands
- (3) Broncolor Unilight Lights
- (1) Broncolor Scoro S Power Pack (1600J)
- (1) Beauty Dish
- (1) Boom Arm
- (1) Silk Screen
- (1) Stand for the Silk Screen
- (2) Knuckles
- (2) Sandbags
- (1) Macbook Pro
- (1) Canon EOS 5D Mark III
- (1) 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens
- (1) 45mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Lens  
- (1) Pocket Wizard Kit
- (1) Mini-to-Mini Cable

Light Settings: 
- (2) Large Softboxes - 6.0 - 8.0
- (1) Beauty Dish - 1.5 - 3.0
These numbers might have fluctuated between images, at times when I wanted a foggier look to the image I raised the backlights as high as 8.0 and had lowered the beauty dish to as low as 1.5
So these numbers are up to you to determine what you like