About the Competition: The Photography Decathalon
Twenty-Two Minutes : One Location : Two Award Winning Shots
In a nut-shell, the People photography category had several models and locations to choose from. You could schedule as many models as you wanted, but could only have one half-hour with each model, at the assigned location. Through a series of miscalculations on my part, I ended up eight minutes late for my thirty-minute slot. Our team opted to enter these two images. Both won an award, Honorable Mention and First Place, respectfully.
The Wardrobe Selections
Locations in a city will have drastically different lighting conditions available from one spot to the next and in selecting the wardrobe I used this fact to my advantage. The model brought a suitcase full of options and I quickly selected her simplest option to begin with, I love simplicity and I thought the the cream colored tank top would emphasize the monochromatic feeling of the granite monument that was just begging to be laid upon. For the second shot I selected the blue patterned dress and bright scarf which whose vibrancy would be emphasized by the semi-filtered direct sun.
Video Walk Through
From RAW to Finished: The Evolution of the Image
All the editing had to be completed within the 48-hour period and since I shot her in the afternoon on the second day I had until that midnight that night to finish all the retouching. With thirty images from our team alone (ten categories x three images per category) multiplied by however many teams it was apparent the judges would be going through a lot of images in row so creating an image that immediately popped was imperative.
The first thing to notice is the crop, I decided to go with a square image for two main reasons, the movement of the scarf filled up a square format nicely but also with a square image I was able to eliminate the distracting horizontal lines in the background and keep the focus on her stunning looks.
A Closer Look at Piercing Eyes
Adobe Lightroom Developing
Photoshop Layer by Layer Walk-Through
Open the PSD file with layers, available for download at the top of the page, and follow along step by step.
The Dodge & Burn Layer
To create a dodge & Burn layer create a new layer and set the layer mode to 'overlay' after which a little checkbox appears asking if you'd like to fill with 50% Gray. Click that box and then click ok.
Overlay works with the layers below it, anything that is dark on the overlay layer will darken the tones below and anything light will brighten the tones. 50% Gray has no affect on the underlying tones so an Overlay layer filled with 50% gray will have no affect on the image at all. With this layer selected I "paint in" light and dark tones to dodge and burn. Notice I accentuate the cheeks and nose, eyes and lips with varying levels of precision.
Curves & Layer Masks
Curves are an excellent tool to increase or decrease the values in different tonal areas of the image, for instance for the eyeballs I wanted to create much higher contrast so I created an curves adjustment layer (clicking on the black and white circle) and then using a layer mask I could paint the eyeballs white and everything else black (by selecting the layer mask icon in the layer), then the adjustments only affected the eyes.
The curves is a simple line graph, the dark values are on the left, the light values on the right, and by moving the line on the left side down I make the darks darker. By moving the line on the right side up I make the whites brighter. Simple as that.
You will notice I created five separate curves layers and used layer masks to isolate different parts of the image. If you open the PSD file and click on the adjustment layers individually you'll see very different curve paths that I used depending on the part of the image I was adjusting.
From Start to Finish
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