Comparitive Retouch – Lighting overlay blue on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

A quick comparative set using LAB color mode and the ONE ACTION set: starting with the original file just out of raw conversion….

Comparitive Retouch original file

First we retouch the skin to taste, consider the light when you do (opensextensive skin retouch tutorial)!

Comparitive Retouch clean skin

After skin retouch we have a richer and more directional feel to the light.

Comparitive Retouch LAB - Black and White

A Black and white conversion using L*A*B* color mode for luminosity.  A very classy B+W conversion.  Once we’ve shown the client the expected results we can easily proof them something more artistic, and unexpected using Beautiful Blurs, or Lighting Overlays.

Comparitive Retouch - Lighting overlay blue

Here a basic texture file from the Bleautiful Blur Overlays – Volume 2 gives the picture a little blue juice which contrasts the warmth of the skin with a Photoshop layer mode of soft light.

Comparitive Retouch - Lighting overlay streaks

the Lighting Overlays Disk 1 streaky image, gives the image a funky modern splash on the left side when I used a Photoshop Layer mode of screen.

There are two answers to why to be creative – one is from your own motivation, the other is to sell more to your clients.  With the ONE ACTION workflow you could complete this whole series in less than 3min simply saving out a JPEG at each stage.

ONE ACTION: workflow and training . Bleautiful Blur Overlays - Volume 2 . Lighting Overlays Disk 1

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Hear the shadows: Front and Back

Front and Back fashion bridal portrait

 Front and Back

Lighting is simply about contrast.

Contrast defines shapes.

Clearly seen either one will help you make a good picture.

If you’re a beginner, don’t be tricked by f-stops or ratios; remember to see what you’re interested in – and then get enough light on it to make a picture.  Don’t loose your muse, before you start.  Gaining complex lighting does not help you  gain a better picture.

Here I used an Alien Bee 800 set to minimum power with 30 degree grid spot on the standard 7 inch reflector. Roughly 6 feet from the model. You can see the falloff starting at about the hips.

Canon 1d – 50mm lens – f2.8

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Small softbox on location

Continuing my explanations from the gear I use - today again the small softbox:

Using a small softbox: neil setup

So I was out on an engagement shoot and had done all the normal stuff and wanted a little something extra…

Using a small softbox: setup testing

But the simple daylight angle was not very flattering and the busy environment of the playground rope piece made for a very messy image – cool – but a little too messy – what could I do quickly to improve the impact of my couple in the space…

Using a small softbox: Neil Shooting

Here I am climbing around searching for the right perspective….

Read on to see the final shot and read about my camera settings making it….

Using a small softbox in close proximity


If you can swallow this yucky corporate video there’s probably a nugget there for you.

I use the extra small softbox, as you can see in my bag, but I always use it hand held because the principle:

the larger your light source, the softer your light

Only applies if you are computing your exposure solely on the quantity of light that is coming from that source.

Your light source is relative to the subject.

A 18″ softbox is a small light source compare to a 70 inch man – so what is it good for?

Working close

Bride with Flowers

I often use the ST-E2 transmitter and keep the flash on TTL allowing me to control the contrast using Exposure compensation on the camera. In this way, you can see how I’ve blended the daylight balance in the room – the tunsten source in the background – and finally the softbox providing the ‘key’ or main illumination shaping the subject.

There aren’t any shadows though, because my baseline exposure is the light in the room. I’ve used the soft box to create a shaping highlight. So there’s a bright shaped area, and a darker flatter area.

Smiling bridal portrait

In this shot an assistant was holding the light (as I can only shoot hand held – light to my left). Here again you can see how I have blended the ambient and bumped it up with the softbox. Using your light to see shapes is really the psychological core of ‘making light real’. Light gives you that power to sculpt and form.

To achieve this exposure with your camera in TTL auto flash as well as Aperture, Shutter Speed, or Program exposure mode.  Adjust your main exposure compensation value to -1EV.  That’s it – the flash exposure will correct for everything else – easy eh?

Portrait with flowers

Upcoming later, I have a video clip titled the 3 minute portrait, that will show how I’m using the mini softbox.  So the question of size must come up at some point….and you have to know the right answer when you’ve found the right question.


The bride and the girls

Is the 18 inch softbox big enough?

NO – so (moments later) I switched to using the ceiling as my soft-box.

Size is relative to proximity (distance from the subject) and you want to always have a softbox as big as or larger than your subject.

how to use photographic soft box