Tag Archives: Sarah

Revisiting Sarah Jane

After looking at some portraits today, I felt inspired to trawl back through the archives of some portraits I shot last year.

In September of 2010 I photographed a fantastic young model called Sarah Jane Kelly.  The shoot took place at Berrima in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

I had photographed Sarah once before, but I wanted a country setting and some beautiful golden hour light.  I hit pay-dirt.

I landed some nice images of Sarah on the day, but only processed and published a few of them after the shoot.

Today I started looking at a few of the images, and found some, which after some time and with fresh eyes, stood out and looked worthy of processing and publishing.

Here is one of the images I captured of Sarah, which really shows what a wonderful model she is.

Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane

While I had my lighting equipment with me, I decided to make use of the fantastic natural light I had.  The sun was low in the sky to the rear right of Sarah, so I had an assistant hold a golden reflector dish to bounce the rich, warm light towards her face.

Berrima Shoot with Sarah

Yesterday I headed down to Berrima in the NSW Southern Highlands for an afternoon portrait session in the country with Sarah.

The theme was country girl, and for a while leading up the shoot I had a particular type of shot and setting in mind.  The challenge was to find a location that resembled what my mind saw.

I am not sure if I quite found what I pre-visualised, but we did find a nice location five minutes from the centre of town, with a paddock containing horses, countryside hills in the background, a rusted, old barbed-wire fence, some old, rusted metal junk on the other side of the fence, and some distinctingly Australian bush and trees.

I shot a variety of images, but one of the images that I liked the most was this tightly-framed head-shot:

Berrima Girl

Berrima Girl

I took my lighting gear, but hardly used it.  I specifically wanted natural golden hour light, and I was able to achieve that with my gold-coloured reflector.  I was facing roughly north-north-west when I shot this image, and the rapidly-setting sun was dipping below at 45 degrees to the rear of Sarah‘s right.  By having my assistant hold my reflector dish at the right angle, I was able to bounce the beautiful golden light right back at Sarah to make her shine.

I have quite a few more images through which to sort, but this one was the most pleasing of the session, and one, typical of my style, which omits the background.

Black and White Rules for Portraits, Okay?

I have done a few model shoots lately (and I have one tomorrow with the lovely Sarah).

During my processing of the images from a few recent sessions, I have found that I have gone for high-contrast black and white treatment.

I think black and white really works well for portraits.  Sometimes colour can be distracting, and if you are using moody lightning like I often do, black and white treatment, with its removal of the potential distraction in colour, makes shape, form and tone more prominent.

Here are a couple of examples of where I think the black and white treatment has worked well.

Firstly, the talented Jess:

I'm Not That Innocent (B&W)

I’m Not That Innocent (B&W)

In this session, I went for dramatic, high-contrast lighting and seduction/sexyness as a theme/feel.  With this sort of lighting and prominent shadow from which the model emerges, the monochromatic treatment highlights shape and form.

Compare this image to the colour version.

When I photographed Sarah recently, even during the shoot I was pre-visualising black and white.  As it turned out, I prefer the images of her when processed in black and white.  Here is an example image (and one I quite like):

Post-Lyric

Post-Lyric

While I have not published the colour version of this shot (yet), I think the black and white version has more appeal.

In processing portraits lately, I have adopted the multi-layered, non-destructive approach I apply to my seascapes, with heavy use of lightening and darkening curves adjustment layers to selectively add pop to certain parts of the image and darken others and/or apply vignetting.

I have taken to using two black and white conversion layers and applying a green filter to the base black and white layer, and an infrared filter to another layer which I apply only to the eyes using masks.  This really makes the eyes stand right out, and the eyes are the most important parts of a portrait (in most cases).

In the future I might publish a post-processing tutorial on one of my recent black and white portraits.