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Tips Appreciated!
Old 11-05-2007, 01:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Please don't take this honest question wrong. I am asking for technical advice because I simply don't have the experience.

As a part time photographer, most of my glamour work has been for wives and wives-to-be -- generally word of mouth. It all started when I lived in Denver and a friend's wife had glamour photos made for him. I had just bought a Canon EOS Elan and got my first gig doing a glamour portfolio from a friend of his wife's.

That was around 1990.

17 years later I just got my first African American client. I'm looking forward to it, because she has a great attitude, but I got to thinking...I have zero experience here. So, I have a few questions and I'm hoping a few of you wouldn't mind offering some advice.

Are there lighting tips that are different? I looked through all of my books and didn't see much on the subject except that bumping up the light might be necessary. Hmm, how much? She's got a pretty dark complexion with a pretty smooth look to it. The metering will be the same regardless, but she'll reflect less light, right? Does that affect the ratio of key to fill or kicker?

What about post-processing? The only thing "Skin" seems to mention is that adding magenta can improve the complexion.

Other thoughts or things I should think about?

Thanks in advance -- and of course, I'm happy to experiment and see what comes of it. The camera will be dropping images to the PC as I shoot, so I'll be able to evaluate on the fly. However, if I have the benefit of your advice up front, I'll have the best chance at providing her with the images that will make her happiest.
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Re: Tips Appreciated!
Old 11-05-2007, 06:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Be sure to shoot in RAW as that will give you extra room to play later on.

Keep in mind that digital is linear so you need to move the histogram of the image as far right as you can to capture maximum detail in the shadow and darker areas.

Use Custom White Balance as that will give you the best starting point.

Do not use extreme lighting ratios (stay in the 1.5 to 1 - 1 to 2 range).

Watch out for hot spots on the skin.

If you have a spot meter you can use a modified zone system -- meter the skin which would put it in zone 5, and then modify the exposure based on the zone you want to move the skin to and then subtract to get the offset from where you metered. So, if you decide you want the skin at about 3 1/2 then 5-3.5=1.5 would be the stop change in exposure to move zone 5 between zone 3 and 4 (3.5).

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: Tips Appreciated!
Old 11-05-2007, 08:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks much, RFS
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Re: Tips Appreciated!
Old 11-05-2007, 08:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Photographing black people is the same as photographing black anything, except velvet and glass. Use an incident light meter and expose normally. Check your results and adjust if necessary. If you camera, meter and flash were calibrated, then you wouldn't have to adjust.

Do watch out for shiny skin, because it will reflect a lot more than the matte stuff around it and push you outside of your contrast range. What color powder do you use t get rid of shiny skin? Translucent, meaning no color.

I would recommend photographing just her face and shoulders while you work out your exposure and adjust your contrast by raising the fill light. I prefer to work with main and fill lights rather than reflectors. More consistent and predictable that way. I like 3:1 most of the time.
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Re: Tips Appreciated!
Old 11-05-2007, 10:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks!
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Re: Tips Appreciated!
Old 11-05-2007, 11:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have to agree with Mr. Smith, definately shoot in RAW mode, I've just recently converted to nothing but RAW after doing some expereminting, and it's a lifesaver. But otherwise, your light meter should work just fine for the darker skin.

Isaiah
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Re: Tips Appreciated!
Old 11-06-2007, 01:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Another thing to consider is backgrounds. Black backgrounds will normally lose her hair entirely and that may not be the look you are going for. Try to keep some light on the background or use some sort of backlight or scrim light on her to separate her from the background.
In making black and white prints, one trick I came up with in converting was to go to hue/saturation and take out the reds and yellows first. Or else use the channel mixer and convert that way. It is really tricky to get a good black and white and maintain skin texture and tone. Don't be afraid to experiment. Rick from Arkansas
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Re: Tips Appreciated!
Old 11-06-2007, 02:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks, Isaiah and Rick!
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