Gwen, the Consummate Professional Model
The primary reason I decided to attend Kim Weston’s Nude Photography Workshop is because Gwen recommended it. I have high confidence in Gwen and the fact that she would be one of the models at the workshop sealed the deal for me. I’ve worked with Gwen several times and have always come away with great images. Unfortunately, Gwen was only available for one day of the workshop so we didn’t have a lot of time to work together.
I plan to work with Gwen in October at a shoot in Wonder Valley among abandoned homesteads. If you’d like to join us, the shared expenses will be $200 per photographer. I’m only inviting two people because I want to treat these abandoned homesteads with dignity. After all, they represent a stranger’s hopes, dreams and aspirations.
At the workshop, I photographed Gwen in Bodie House, a separate building that was once Edward Weston’s wife’s study. Bodie House is now a guest house that workshop attendees can rent to stay on-site throughout the workshop. Here are my final images from that session. As always, I used my “go-to” kit, a Canon 5D MkII and Canon 24-105/4L IS USM. All post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom v6.
I tried to incorporate the many ideas and techniques I learned in the workshop. Notice how I left the window panes open to allow the viewer’s eyes to “escape” the frame on one side but kept them on the opposite side to keep the focus on the subject? Also, did you see how I flagrantly violated “rules” such as not cropping arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers and other body parts that are not essential (in my mind) to the story in the photo? I still struggle to cut off/out parts of the body but, bottom line, I am, at least, aware of where and why I crop an image. To quote Kim Weston, “Every element has to be a conscious decision.”
What I Learned & Practiced
Whenever I attend a workshop, I have three goals and objectives in mind:
- Learn three things I can immediately apply to a current project
- Observe three things I can modify and apply to future projects
- Note three things I may never use but should better understand
At Kim Weston’s Nude Photography Workshop I learned the following three things that I immediately applied to my photography.
- Expand my horizons beyond the studio and black & white. Until now, with few exceptions, I had done all nude photography in a studio and all my final output was in B&W. At the workshop, I forced myself to make environmental photos in color. It was good to challenge myself.
- Further disregard the “rules” of composition, e.g. rule of thirds, cutting off hands/feet/legs/arms/etc. I became acutely aware of using corners to “anchor” an image. Now, I actively seek partial window frames in corners or objets d’art anchoring/balancing the subject.
- I am ruthless in applying Kim’s mantra, “Less is more.” I’ve gotten back into the habit of conducting a “border check” around the viewfinder before releasing the shutter. I try to keep windows, doors and walls “open” to allow smooth flow into and out of the image. I try to “guide” the viewers’ eyes.
With those principles in mind, here are some more photos from Kim Weston’s Nude Photography Workshop at Wildcat Hills, Carmel, CA. These are all of Dasha.
The first photo is a perfect example of “going with your gut” versus blindly following instructions. I had two versions of this image. The first positioned the edge of the plate in an unbroken arc across the right breast and this one where the lip bisected the right nipple. During the critique session, Kim said he preferred a clean arc as opposed to breaking the line. However, when I sent the images to Dasha, the model, she pointed out that, without the nipple, due to the angle, it appears that she doesn’t have a right breast. Below is the original version. As you can see, Dasha is absolutely correct.
For the 2nd image, Dasha again made a suggestion to crop a little tighter which greatly improved the photo. This is the value of working with a professional model who knows what makes her look good and how best to achieve that.
The 3rd and 4th photos are examples of Kim’s advice to use the corners to both anchor the image and, in this case, show where the light is coming from. This has really liberated my thinking as, in the past, I just saw corners as places for vignettes.
The 5th and 6th photos use Dasha’s hair to open up the frame and allow the viewer’s eyes to follow the lines up to her eye. The contrast of her blonde hair against the blonde wood table adds a dimensionality that would have been lost on a different colored table.
The last photo is an example of blatantly breaking the “rules.” I cut off Dasha’s fingers at the knuckles and her knee caps. All I wanted were the lines and angles formed by her arms and legs. I’m not perfectly happy with this photo but it’s close to the image I had in mind.
One thing the workshop has rekindled is an interest in medium format cameras. I’d like to get into MF but the prices are a bit intimidating. I’m trying my usual tact of telling Mary about the new top-of-the-line Hasselblad H6D-100C for $33,000 in hopes she’ll think $10,000 for the older H5D-40 is a bargain but I’m not holding my breath.
The next post will features photos of my favorite model, Gwen. I’ve worked with her several times in the past and she is always the consummate professional who can help a photographer make his/her vision come to life. I also have photos of Sara and Jenn, two other models from the workshop as well as Arya, a new model I recently worked with.
In October, I plan to photograph Gwen in Wonder Valley against the backdrop of abandoned homesteads. If you’d like to join us, the tentative cost for a 4 hour shoot is ~$200 for 1 photographer or $125 for 2. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll keep you updated.
Save an Extra 50 Bucks
I twisted George Jardine’s arm into offering an extra $50 discount on his San Diego Lightroom 3 weekend intensive workshop. This is two full days of LR3 training that will help you step up to the next level.
All the photos you see on this site have been edited in LR. Without George’s videos, I would still be putzing along. Now, I get back from a shoot with several hundred to a thousand files and blow through them in no time so I’m ready for my next shoot. If you’re a serious photographer who prefers to spend time behind the camera instead of in front of the monitor, this workshop is for you!
George Jardine will pump you so full of LR tips, tricks, techniques and concepts that you’ll think your head will explode. If you think a $49 class in a conference hall filled with 300 of your best friends is good training, you’re in for a shock. Get the discount code from George and get ready for some serious LR training!
Today, we have a video MMT to showcase Focus Magic, a Photoshop and Photoshop Elements (PSE) plugin that makes sharpening a slam-dunk simple process. If you’ve been intimidated by Unsharp Mask (USM) and never quite know what it’s doing or how to make it better, Focus Magic will make life much easier. As always, MMTs require a password that is e-mailed to registered users.
If you’d like to buy a copy of Focus Magic, at a discount, let me know. If enough people sign up, it’s normally $45 but I can get it for $39. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail or leave a comment here. If you’re the impatient sort, you can buy it directly at www.FocusMagic.com.
FocusMagic is a small part of what you’ll learn in the full 6 week Photoshop Elements webinar. Learn PSE in 6 easy lessons of 1 hour each week for just
$99 ($79 Economic Stimulus Special for Sept 9 session). Click here to go to my Workshop page for details.
In Bridge CS4, you can open any photo directly into Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) by selecting a photo and pressing Ctrl + R (Win) or Cmd + R (Mac). So, what’s the big deal, you ask? If you want to open a JPEG or TIFF in ACR, it’s a big deal. Opening a raw file in ACR is just a double-click (as long as your camera raw is supported) but opening a JPEG has always been more convoluted. You can accomplish the same thing by selecting a file and clicking the Open in Camera Raw icon (below).
Unfortunately, I haven’t found an equivalent command in Photoshop Elements (PSE) Organizer so PSE users are “up the creek” (a technical term) and must do it the old way. Keep in mind that you must be in PSE Editor to open a JPEG in ACR. Use File->Open As and select Camera RAW (not Photoshop RAW).