Sunday, May 10, 2015

Capturing Beautiful Skin Tones in Camera

To me, skin tones make or break a portrait!
I work and work to perfect skin tones
and that begins when I'm taking the photo.
Here's how to capture beautiful skin tones in-camera:
You MUST learn to see where light is falling on your subject's face.
In this next photo, the subject is facing the sun.
This may seem want the face lit, but direct sun
on the face creates shadows that can't really be fixed in editing.
This may seem like a nice photo when you're taking it....such a pretty
girl with a pretty background....BUT...
Let's look CLOSER.
You can see the dark shadow across the eye on the right
and the lower cheek on the right.
Her neck is also heavily shadowed.
Plus, the model is squinting those pretty blue eyes.
Let's turn the model so the sun is coming from the left side.
Looks pretty, BUT...
Let's look REAL CLOSE.
See all the hot spots on her face like the left side of her nose,
left side of her forehead and chin?
What I'm telling you is:
You MUST LOOK CLOSELY at the face before you click the shutter!
If you see any odd shadows or hot spots......
Simply turn your model or move yourself with your camera
 until you don't see ANY shadows or hotspots like in this next shot!
On a sunny day, this will usually happen when the sun is
behind the subject.  This eliminates all shadows and hot spots
to create gorgeous skin it illuminates the hair!
In extremely bright conditions, I use a reflector to bounce the light
back on the subject's face to illuminate it.
That's what I did in this next photo.
Notice there are no annoying shadows or hot spots on her face to fix in editing:

If you're shooting on location, this technique will affect your background.
I have what I call a "Morning" backyard.
That's because the tree line at the back of the yard is backlit
in the morning when I took this photo of my daughter.
I know if I shoot in the morning in my backyard, I can use the tree line
as a background and get gorgeous skin tones because the subject will be backlit.
In the morning, I only shoot with the tree line
behind the subject in my backyard so I don't get shadows on the face. 
Here is my daughter side-lit in my backyard.
See all the shadows on her face? 
You can also see my neighbor's house in the background.
In this next photo, she is facing the tree line and also the sun.
Her skin is blown out and she is squinting,
plus my house is in the background!
You can look for shade, but TREE shade often causes
 problems with mottling.  Look at all the light
splotches on her face from the sun shining through the leaves.
I know it's tempting to simply shoot a portrait just because you like
a pretty background....
I'm telling you to look closely at the face in EVERY shot before
you click the shutter so you do not
have photos with these shadow issues on the face.
Removing these shadows in editing takes way too much time
and the results are usually disappointing. 
Most of these shadow problems can't be fixed at all!
So, what do you do if the sun is not right for the
background you want to use?
That's what happened at this nursery.  I wanted my
subject sitting by these flowers which were in direct sunlight.
I simply had my assistant hold up my 40-inch reflector
to block the direct rays.
If you look close, the rays are not on her face, but are
still illuminating the plant behind her.
You can always add back some sun rays during editing...
delightful sunlight without the harsh shadows on the face!
Try using the slight shade of a building or structure to
stop the shadowing.
Also, correctly set your white balance before shooting.
Check your camera manual to learn how to do this
with your specific camera.
If you take the time to really LOOK CLOSELY
for shadows before you click the shutter...
 you will LOVE editing your photos!
You should have perfect skin tones every time with
very little effort in post processing.


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