Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I usually plan my portrait sessions around Color. Based on how many people and if there are children I will suggest one of my locations that has the best colors in its background for that particular month. Then I will suggest clothing colors that will go with the season and the colors in said background. 

Since this session was of just our client’s two boys and I wanted them to stand out against the background I suggested the boys be in red shirts. This location is not the usual park like setting you find in the city—it’s a more rustic location with a hiking trail along side a small stream with lots of trees and wild unkept ground cover. So, it was fitting to have the boys in the stand-out red we photographers like with our people out in rustic nature—it must be my Kodak foundation from my Kodachrome film days!

As is our usual practice we started with our bread and butter portraits of the boys together and individually, smiling, looking at the camera, in different poses, in different locations. Then I got to set-up this storytelling image…
 f5.0 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 800; lens @ 105mm
What I’m going for in this converted image is big brother leading his little brother into the ight—out of the dark scary forrest. 

Here’s the original color version…
Color Version
The color version just did not imply any menace to the children—it’s too colorful and there’s too much light in the foreground.

But, first the image needed to be cleaned-up a bit so I had my wife, kathi (my personal Photoshop Diva!) remove the three trail marker posts in front of the boys. That done we tried just burning in the foreground, making it a dark vignette, but I felt it was still too normal—I wanted creepy!

So, I gave up on color and dropped the image into my favorite B&W software; Nik, Silver Efex, Pro2 (Really upset that Google is no longer supporting this product…but that is a whole other issue.) I like many of Nik’s presets and its versions of Sepia and Brown Tones, but one of my favorite features of Silver Efex is it’s “film types” drop down menu—these are B&W film type emulators that are grouped by ISO.  Within its 18 different film types are many of my old B&W film favorites.

For this particular conversion I choose the Agfa APX 400 film type. Finally, the creepy  mood I was after!

Then to get rid of some foreground that wasn’t helping and make the boys a little larger within the frame I cropped in, mostly top and bottom, making the image a longer landscape.

I still plan my sessions around color because that’s what most clients want and it pays the bills!

Let me know if you have any question….’Til next week…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photography, Craftsman
Training Site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com

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