Last Sunday (27th March) saw the first ‘tester’ of a new Workshop I’m putting together covering both Photography & Photoshop techniques…
What to do?
With an abundance of workshops out there covering photography & lighting for both studio and location I didn’t want to just jump onboard and do my own version of the very same thing but then the question remained…what do I do?
Now I’m an avid user of social media regularly updating Facebook and Twitter; I also write this blog and have committed to post atleast 3 times each week and in addition to that I post images up on sites such as Flickr, on forums, onto the N.A.P.P. Member Portfolio and record ‘Behind the Scenes’ and editing videos for posting on my YouTube and Vimeo Pages. All of this certainly keeps me busy but one big advantage of doing so means I can track what is popular or well received and what isn’t. So, being able to view these ‘statistics’ kind of helped make my mind up on what I should look at offering in this particular workshop.
The planned format is to spend the first half of the day working on putting together specific images that can then be edited later, and when I say edited I mean using photoshop techniques to create composite images and creating a definitive look. So, rather than working through a multitude of lighting set ups, we would start the day with the end result in mind and then kind of work back thinking how the light should be.
For example let’s say we were going to put this composite image together which was originally shot in the studio against a grey (seamless) paper background…
We’d start off with a good idea of what the final picture would look like so to kick off (no pun intended
) we’d already have a background in mind that we were going to use and from that we’d know the kind of angle we would then need to shoot our subject from. A great deal of time would be spent figuring out how the lighting should be set up so that we get highlights and shadows exactly how we want them and all this goes towards making the final composite look as realistic as possible.
What this new workshop isn’t is purely a Photoshop Compositing and editing course. Emphasis is placed on the most important aspect which is the initial photograph and getting it as near perfect as we can ‘out of camera’. The editing side of things then naturally follows on to create a final look/feel rather than being used to correct what should already have been done during the photography part of the day.
Working backwards in this way i.e. with the end result in mind is how I generally always approach a photo shoot and by doing so I find that it stops that “Right now what?” feeling having loaded the images into the computer. In my opinion this can lead to over editing or simply not getting the best out of the final image, but going into the shoot already knowing what you want it to look like at the end really helps.
Anyway, getting back to last weeks ‘tester’…
I’d invited along six photography friends, each of varying experience and skill levels to be ‘stooges’ for the day and play the part of workshop attendees. Their main role was not only to go through the workshop but to give me brutal honest feedback about what was being delivered and how. I needed to know what they thought of the content, the timings, how the editing side of things went etc; warts and all I wanted to get as much feedback as possible.
Having chatted through what we were going to be covering it was then over to the photography side of things. Our model for the day was someone I’d never worked with before Steve Lewington; a giant of a man who used to be a WWE Wrestler in the United States. I must say Steve was a dream to work with and will definitely be featuring as a regular model once the workshop is finalised and goes live.
The lighting was put together from scratch explaining everything along the way from why lights were placed in certain positions, why certain modifiers were being used, why I was using a certain aperture such as f/8.0 and narrower at times and so on. Attendees could see the results as they came in thanks to being tethered to my MacBook pro and also a projector showing my screen up on one of the studio walls. This was great for everyone to clearly see all the minor tweeks here and there that were being done to ensure the image was exactly how I wanted it for editing later.
One thing I’m really conscious of is that those attending get plenty of shooting time themselves so once I’d set everything up and got the images I needed to be able to go through the editing later in the day it was over to the attendees. Lighting was moved out and settings altered so that everyone attending could then set it up again and understand it as they did so. That way when they leave they can say that the pictures they leave with are what they made rather than having the workshop instructor set everything up and them simply walk in and take a shot having been told the camera settings.
Having folks along who were all at differing skill levels and experience was really handy for me to see who this workshop should be pitched at…
Having been well and truly fed and watered (thanks to my wife Anne aka Mrs D) it was then onto the second half of the day which was the editing…
As this was a ‘tester’ those attending didn’t get any kind of workbook or notes to follow along with but that’s certainly something that will be available when the workshop goes ‘live’. Understandably everyone will be at differing skill levels with their editing but the idea of this workshop is that most will be learning new techniques that they can take away and use.
Having chosen a couple of images that I was going to work on it was then a case of showing the kind of editing I would do; everything from firstly tidying up the image by removing any dust specs and blemishes and then such things as adding contrast and texture to skin, editing the eyes, enhancing details, altering the colour/tone, adding contrast and then finally putting together the composite…
Here’s an example of one of the the before ‘out of camera’ images and the final edited composite…
Of course how far you go with the editing is completely down to you and your own personal taste, so for this workshop let it be said that…
Here’s a couple more ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples from shots taken during the workshop…
Having covered the editing involved to make a composite I then finished off with some extras showing such things as how to add makeup to a portrait, how to lengthen a models’ neck (digitally of course) plus a few other useful everyday kind of techniques.
During this ‘tester’ we only focused on taking 3/4 length shots but during the workshop we’ll be doing a mix of 3/4 and full length shots, all with a theme to add a bit more focus and fun to exactly what we’ll be looking at putting together…
All in all we had a blast! Personally speaking from all the feedback, I’ve learned alot about what I should and shouldn’t include in the workshop, how I should think about timing the day and how best to present the editing amongst many other things. I’m going to run one more tester which will be a complete run through of how the workshop will go and that’s going to be around the 7th May but I’ll be posting the details of that up in the very near future.
In the mean time though a big thanks to everyone that came along and made the day what it was; a day of photography, editing and with plenty of laughs thrown in. Plus an extra BIG thanks to model Steve who you will be seeing alot more of I’m sure, Syn for the makeup, Gareth for providing us with studio space and equipment that is to die for, Brian for bringing along the projector for us to use and my wife Anne for looking after everyone and making the most delicious food for us all
One more thing…
I guess every workshop needs some kind of a name but the question is what? So far I’ve come up with ‘The Camera Never Lies’ for the reason that there is a big emphasis on getting the photograph right first before moving onto the editing, but what do you think?
If you have any thoughts or comments then as always please feel free to make use of the comments section below, but in the meantime,
ps> A couple of the folks who were at the workshop tester have already blogged their thoughts and some of their own results which you can check out here:
Gareth Davies (Photographer & Studio Owner) [Link]
Brian Worley (Photographer and Guru on all things Canon) [Link]
Noel Hannan (Photographer and all round top bloke) [Link]
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