The Digital Photo Guy

Art Nudes in Sedona – Final Images of M

by on Feb.03, 2016, under Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Photoshop CS2/4

A Wonderful New Model

In an earlier post, I embedded photos of M, a young lady with a great talent for modeling. I finally finished post-processing her photos and ended up with 13 final images. That’s 28% of the 46 photos I made during our shoot, much more than I generally get from new models. In fact, most of the culls were due to errors on my part. I should have used a second light on her beautiful hair and, possibly, even a third light for her deep, expressive eyes.  I hesitate to label her an amateur and hope I can shoot with her again in the future to rectify some of my mistakes. BTW, I have permission to use her name but I avoid doing so with new models until she’s sure she wants to be known as a nude model. That’s why I only use initial.

The first three are my favorites. I love the way her hand languidly caresses her hip. The second is a classic study in lines, curves, angles, light, shadows and textures. In the third one, I really thought hard about clipping her elbow. In the end, I decided I wanted that stark separation between the left and right sides.

Number 6 is the only one I retouched in Photoshop. I forgot to ask her to pull back her shoulders and lift her chin to tighten her tummy. So, a little bit of Liquify magic and M has her taut tummy restored.

Numbers 5 & 7 are where I should have used a kicker for better catchlights. The only excuse I have is that I was entranced, mesmerized and flustered at the opportunity to photograph such a beautiful model.

Number 11 is an example of where I should have used a hair light to add a glow to her beautiful hair.

Over the next few weeks I’ll post finals for models A and Z. All comments, both pro and con, are always appreciated.

M_final-110   M_final-105   M_final-103   M_final-111   M_final-112   M_final-113   M_final-101   M_final-102      M_final-104   M_final-106   M_final-107   M_final-108   M_final-109  

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Cayleigh in Sedona

by on Jan.31, 2016, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips

Professional Art Nude Model

I had the opportunity to work with Cayleigh in Sedona two weeks ago. She was the only professional art nude model among the five models. Don’t get me wrong, the others were wonderfully fearless, enthusiastic and fun but it often takes more time with new models. New models can be hesitant (although these women were bold) and need more direction to find their best angles and poses. Cayleigh’s experience shined through because her keeper rate was about 100% greater than the others. Generally, I hope for 40% to 50% final images. With Cayleigh, I estimate I’ll get about 45% as finals, a pretty good result. With the others, I’m estimating 20%-25% finished, usable images. Of course, to be perfectly honest, I contribute to the cull rate when I make mistakes.

Cayleigh_bodyscapes-101   Cayleigh_bodyscapes-102   Cayleigh_bodyscapes-103   Cayleigh_bodyscapes-104   Cayleigh_bodyscapes-105   Cayleigh_bodyscapes-106   Cayleigh_bodyscapes-107   Cayleigh_bodyscapes-108   Cayleigh_bodyscapes-109

These aren’t in any particular order. I have my favorites but I’m hoping my readers will tell me which ones they like.

I hope to have all the photos from the session finished in two weeks including some color images to show how different the same photo can appear in color versus B&W.

N.B. If these B&W images seem dark, you probably need to calibrate your monitor. Lacking a calibration tool, you can turn up the brightness on your monitor.

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Art Nudes in Sedona

by on Jan.26, 2016, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips

A Different Kind of Nude Shoot

In December 2015, I was in Sedona to make a presentation to the Sedona Camera Club (SCC.) At the meeting, I met Bonnie Miller, a local wedding photographer and irrepressible soul. During our conversation, the topic of art nudes came up and Bonnie was all over it. She and a few other members had been trying to organize such a shoot. I offered to help if she found a studio and other interested parties.

After a few false starts, we pulled together a shoot at the Sedona Art Center Art Barn, a large meeting room behind the main Art Center this past Friday, 1/22. I didn’t know what to expect since this was the first time the other six photographers had participated in a nude shoot and four of the five models were new to nude modeling. My fears were unfounded as everyone (5 models, 7 photographers and 1 cat herder) got into the spirit and created some amazing art.

I haven’t yet processed all my images but here are a few to give you an idea of what I captured. All photos were made with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 24-105/4L IS lens. Postprocessing was in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6. Initial starting point was LR B&W Filter Presets, Red Hi-Contrast Filter. For lighting, I used my new BFF, two Yongnuo YN-685C in an Impact Luxbanx 12″x36″ Strip Box. My only boo-boo was failing to set up a hairlight for M’s beautiful hair.

M_bodyscape-101   M_final-112

Z_bodyscape-102   Z_bodyscape-101

A_bodyscape-101   A_bodyscape-102

None of these three models have ever modeled nude before. Yet, they were all so enthusiastic and fearless that I would never have known that. The top two are M, a young lady of Mexican heritage with an Egyptian name (I didn’t ask how that happened.) It wasn’t until later that I noticed her long, gorgeous legs. I plan to engage her for a future shoot where I can feature and emphasize her legs.

The next two are Z, a bubbly, fun woman of indeterminate age (she has grown children) who, after seeing my BW bodyscapes, rushed up to me and exclaimed, “I love your work!” Z is of Czech ethnicity and she lives in the moment. A published author and belly dancer, Z wants to participate in a future project I’m designing about women of different ages.

The last two are A, a strong, fearless young woman of Asian descent who has hitchhiked across the country by herself and sports a Burning Man “brand.” Thinking the tattoo-like brand on her hip was simply a henna or ink creation, I asked, “Is that temporary? She casually replied, “No, they used a blow torch and branding iron.” I nearly dropped my camera in shock. I have more of A and I hope to work again with her in the future.

Stay tuned for more photos from the shoot. There are also photos of Cayleigh, the only professional model of the bunch. Cayleigh was terrific, not only as a model but also, as a mentor to the other models. She offered them tips and helped them express themselves. The last model was K who was still a bit shy and wasn’t sure she wanted her photos posted online. We agreed we could work together in the future when she’s more comfortable.

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Canon 300/2.8L IS: The Best Little Big Gun

by on Jan.15, 2016, under Articles, gear, Monday Morning Tips

All Good Things Must Come to an End

With heavy heart, I announce my favorite “Little Big Gun,” the Canon 300/2.8L IS USM is on the block. Why do I call it a “Little Big Gun?” While Canon defines supertelephoto lenses as 400mm or longer, the 300/2.8 is so sharp that it can easily be extended to 420/4 with a Canon TC1.4 teleconvertor or, even, 600/5.6 using the TC 2.0. At a svelte 5.6 pounds, the 300/2.8 is eminently handhold-able for bird-on-wing or running critter shots. I used it for birds, critters, sports and glamour photography.

This is the original design with a date code UU0916 meaning it was manufactured in Sep 2006. It is also a USA model, not a “gray market” unit. This lens comes with everything that was included from the factory including lens hood, leather lens cover, carrying strap, trunk w/ keys, user manual and original shipping box with styrofoam inserts. Most 300/2.8L IS lens hoods are missing or scratched, dented, cracked or otherwise damaged. All the others I’ve seen for sale have dings, scratches, marks or dents on the magnesium and titanium body. I’ll just let the photos below speak for themselves as to how well this lens has been maintained.

Left side w/hood   Left side, Control Panel   300-2.8-4   300-2.8-5 300-2.8-9   300-2.8-6   300-2.8-16   300-2.8-15   300-2.8-14   300-2.8-13   300-2.8-7   300-2.8-8   300-2.8-12   300-2.8-11   300-2.8-10300-2.8-17

For the photos of the front and rear elements, I used a flash in Multi Mode to evenly illuminate the entire area. That’s what created the odd reflection patterns. These photos cover every inch of the lens. Let me know if you want other photos.

The ballhead visible in some of the above product photos is NOT included in the sale. The Markins Arca-Swiss compatible mounting plate, PL-75 IS included ($55 value.)

The price is $4100 plus USPA Priority Shipping with insurance. Cash is king. Cashier’s check drawn at your bank in my presence is next best. For out of area buyers, four USPS Money Orders for $1000 each plus $100 cash. The lens will ship as soon as USPS validates the Money Orders.

An Amazing Service Experience

Cullmann-1   Cullmann-2

About 8 years ago, at PMA (Photo Marketing Association,) I bought a Cullmann Magnesit 30Nm Ballhead #40190 (love those German product names!) It was a good ballhead but not in the same league as my Markins which cost twice as much. Over the years, it sat on my small Gitzo 1228 and served as my travel tripod.

Recently, I needed the Cullmann for a specific project and discovered the friction control had frozen. This control sets the amount of “drag” so the camera doesn’t flop around when the main locking knob is released. This isn’t a major hassle but something I wanted to fix.

I sent  Cullmann an e-mail asking if I could still buy parts for this ballhead. To my surprise I received a reply almost immediately from Marion Derbali, a real human being at Cullmann, offering to send a FREE part. To say I nearly fell out of my chair is an understatement.

Within days, an envelope arrived from Cullmann, the friction control is working better than ever (they had improved upon the old design) and I was happy as a pig in slop! This is what I call service above and beyond.

If you’re in the market for a new tripod, ballhead or other support devices, Cullmann products are carried by B&H and Adorama.

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A Flash of Inspiration

by on Jan.11, 2016, under gear, Monday Morning Tips

More Great Yongnuo Products

A while back, I wrote about my love affair with Yongnuo YN-622C-TX Canon E-TTL compatible triggers and YN-622C transceivers. Back in July 2015, Yongnuo announced a new flash, the YN-685C (for Canon) with an integrated YN-622C. In other words, the 622C transceiver is built into the flash. It wasn’t yet shipping and I had enough doubts about Chinese knock-offs so I didn’t give it a second thought.

After my experience with the YN-622 triggers, I saw that B&H now had the YN-685 on back order, meaning it could be ordered and B&H would ship when they received their shipment. Giddy with excitement, I ordered from B&H and waited like a kid waiting for Christmas. Well, B&H missed the first ship date causing me to go into a tizzy. I had already sold my Canon 550EX flashes and only had one 580EX-II left in my flash stable. I found Adorama listed the YN-685 as “in stock” so I went ahead and ordered one from them.

As soon as the Adorama order was delivered, I spent an hour testing the YN-685 with the YN-622C-TX on my Canon 5D MkII. I’m happy to report that the combo works perfectly in every flash mode including E-TTL (which I hardly ever use,) 1st curtain, 2nd curtain, HSS and Multi-Mode. The control panel and interface are well designed and easy to use although, with the YN-622C-TX on my camera, there’s really no need to walk over to the flash to fiddle with controls.

In a side-by-side comparison, the YN-685 has about 2/3 stops less power than my Canon 580EX-II but at just $109, I can deal with it. Even if the 685 dies in 2 years, I’m still ahead compared to $250 to $300 for a used 580EX-II on Craigslist. Compared to a Canon 600EX-RT for $469, the price delta is laughable.

The only nit I can find is that it’s a bit “porky” compared to the Canon 580EX-II but, then again, the 685 has a complete wireless trigger integrated into it. The 685 feels substantial and well built but only time will tell if it’s as robust as it appears.

It’s scary to think that the Chinese products I deprecated in the not-so-distant past have improved so quickly. I’m too old to be learning Chinese when they take over the world.

Yongnuo685-1   Yongnuo685-2   Yongnuo685-3

For Whatever Reason, AOL Sucks

My Monday Morning Tips constantly get rejected by AOL. Since I no longer conduct photography classes nor sell photographic products, all rejected e-mail addresses will be deleted. If you wish to continue to receive notification of new posts, you’ll have to resubscribe with a more modern e-mail address.

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