Monday, July 8, 2013

Photography Tutorial: Late Afternoon Backlighting and LR4 Presets

I had the pleasure of doing a maternity photography shoot for my friends K&D who are expecting a little boy any day now.

We meet in a small field during late afternoon (and almost 100 F!).    I wanted to get some photos of this adorable couple backlighted by the setting sun.  I also took some with other outdoor natural lighting (facing sun, open shade) which I will highlight in another post.

This is the SOOC image (straight-out-of-the-camera).  I shot this in manual mode in RAW and had my camera set to 400 ISO (Canon EOS Rebel T2i) using the Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 lens.  Since I am not a professional photographer I can get away with my Rebel.  :-)  I often fantasize about getting a "real" camera, but I decided I prefer a lighter, smaller camera body and some extra money in my pocket.  Some of the perks of being a serious amateur and not a pro.  :-)

I wanted the background to be "soft" so I set my aperture to f/4.5 (the lower the number the softer the background) and then set my exposure to lighten their faces somewhat without completely blowing out the background and still allowing a ring of light around their heads (1/1000 sec in this case).  A trick to set the exposure on a face in extreme lighting situations like this is set your zoom and then walk forward until their face fills the screen, get a reading, adjust your exposure setting to expose the skin properly, and walk backwards to take your photo.

This type of image is best shot in manual mode as you don't want the camera picking your exposure settings.  At times I might want a silhouette effect, so I would expose for the background light.  Other times I might want to highlight their expressions so I would expose for their faces.  For this image I wanted to see their expressions but also silhouette that beautiful belly, so I tried to work out a happy balance.  I usually set my ISO and aperture and then adjust the exposure.

If you are new to shooting in manual mode, your best bet is to try several different exposures and then pick your favorite later when you start editing.  And remember, practice makes perfect in photography.  You can read books and go to classes as much as you want, but unless you get out there and use your camera you won't feel comfortable shooting manual and getting that perfect-for-you shot.

After I got home I decided to run some Pretty Presets in LR4 on the image.  I wanted to show you how many different edits you can do on this one simple image using presets.  I will also show some edits in Photoshop/PSE using my own actions tomorrow.

I also wanted to mention that some enhancements are more lovely on screen, others look better in print. And I would always keep a clean edit on hand because these "arty" effects can be very trendy and what you love today you might hate tomorrow.  I provided my friends a simple clean edit and then a few fun ones so they could choose their own favorite.

I ran the presets and did not other adjustments on these images.  Which one is your personal favorite?

 1.  Pretty Presets "Backlit RAW"preset from the Spring Color Flare and Haze set.

2.  Pretty Presets "Fine Art Film" preset from the Fine Art Film Collection.

3.  Pretty Presets "Bejeweled V1" from the Fine Arts Film collection.

4.  Pretty Presets "Sunflare Right + Up Light" preset from the Spring Color Flare and Haze set.

I was really excited to do this shoot, especially since I haven't done any maternity photography in almost four years.  I felt comfortable with my camera but I did realize I had deficits in hand/feet placement and best body positions.  I need to do another shoot so I can apply what I learned from this one.  I just appreciate that K & D let me practice on them!

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  1. I adore the edit using Fine Art Film. And she is so beautiful!

  2. I adore the edit using Fine Art Film. And she is so beautiful!

  3. I like #4 best, but they are all beautiful!

  4. My favorite is #1 Pretty Presets "Backlit RAW"