Portraits for practice

I recently offered locals a chance to have free portraits done in order to try new ideas with lighting and post processing. It’s also keeping the brain in practice for wedding photography and portraits. The first person to jump on this amazing opportunity was Cassondra Spring Schindler, a local mountain biker and a person whose picture I’ve done before. Didn’t know her husband is a co-owner of Sunnyside Sports.

We met on Ben’s Trail just off Skyliner and hiked up to the U-turn maybe a half mile away. Six-year-old Eimear helped with the light stand. Yay for Eimear helping! She of course wanted to play right in the shot and it took a great deal of cajoling to get her to move out of the way when the pictures started.

Near the end of the session we were talking and Cassondra leaned on her bike. It was a perfect natural lean and I had her freeze, moved the light a little and got the shot. I wanted to use the 1 x 4 strip box with grid for this, but it was way down the trail from some earlier shots and so the 10 degree grid got the job.

My goal this year is to try and blend the flash with natural a little better and just paint the highlights of the face with a little pop of flash. Luckily Profoto is now finally, after years of waiting, making special gels and a gel holder to go over the light to make things much easier on location. So if the sun’s going down I can match that nice, warm evening light with a CTO and make the final picture ¬†look like a flash wasn’t used at all. The gels just came in the mail and I wasn’t able to use them for this. I also noticed Profoto sells a grid set for extra money to focus the light better.

Last year I shot a wedding in Hawaii and wasn’t able to bring the beauty dish because it’s so big and used the grid instead. At longer distance shots it works almost as well at focusing the light. The quality is a little more harsh, but the face lights up nicely.

It worked on Cassondra really well. I think the shadow next to her nose was a little too sharp, but overall it worked perfectly at focusing on her face with a highlight and falling off down body.

The next trick was working on it first in Lightroom and then in Photoshop. The Lightroom initial adjusting was nice. Adjusted the warmth, contrast, sharpening, whites/blacks, highlights, shadows, etc. and made a perfectly usable photo.

The initial photo adjusted in Lightroom.

The initial photo adjusted in Lightroom.

After opening in Photoshop I did a couple additional masking adjustments to get something that looked nice. My goal is to be able to take a handful of images from a wedding and do a few simple adjustments to make very special and memorable pictures.

The final look of the picture after a few minutes in Photoshop.

The final look of the picture after a few minutes in Photoshop.

My ultimate goal, in every wedding, is to have people want to buy canvas prints for their walls. A nice wedding picture on the wall helps a marriage for when times get tough because a couple can see a happy picture of themselves and smile.

For a better look at my work, please visit the Pete Erickson Bend, Oregon wedding photography site.

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