Lisa Carney – Retoucher Extraordinaire

If you have been following recent posts about the “Case Study” then you have certainly seen us mention doing post production work on the project. Quite often we do a lot in house. But when we get too busy or have something on the more complex side we have our favorite retoucher that we send stuff to. Lisa Carney. We have been working with Lisa for close to 15 years. We are nothing if not loyal! But besides that, she is great at what she does and willing to share her talents with others through seminars and workshops.

You have seen Lisa’s work in our portfolios and previous posts. If you are an avid follower of this blog then you have also seen where Lisa lives and works in this post.

At any rate, she has done all the work on the “Case Study” images and we shared the final group shot with you yesterday. The portraits are yet to come…

Check out her site both for retouching work and for workshops (online ones!!!!!)

Another UHC Image

We thought we would share a “before & after” image from the recent UHC shoot we did. This one was fun to do. But there was a lot of post production. We shot this from a “cherry picker” poised high above the tennis court and just shot a bunch of images of the two players going at it. This and one other shot (we’ll share that one on Monday) called for a UnitedHealthcare Membership Card to be incorporated into the scene. We shot an oversized mock UHC Card later in studio and then melded the two together in post as well as adding a better sky and cleaning up and simplifying the court.~

Here are the Before and After
UnitedHealthcare image by Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey UnitedHealthcare image by Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey

UnitedHealthcare Shoot.. Cont….

Here is the other shot I was referring to in Last Friday’s Post. This was another fun image but needed much post-production as well. We have included the three base images we used to build the final. There were additional elements used but the majority are from these three images. We could not actually shoot the swimmer in place and use that as the final as he was WAY TOO SMALL relative to the size of the pool. So we needed to shoot him as a separate element and drop him in much larger than he would normally be.~
UnitedHealthcare Image shot by Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey

Image shot by Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey Image shot by Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey Image shot by Los Angeles Photograper Dana Hursey
Composite Elements

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 13

Well here it is…

Image ©2008 by Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey

Finally after a little time at the retouchers we have the final image in our hands. Obviously there are some significant changes from the original that was shot. But that is the beauty of digital. A lot more options, if you shoot it the right way. We swapped the background sides and cleaned up a lot of small things as well as adjusting the overall color and contrast in addition to adding the scenic in the window. The individual portraits will have a similar look and we’ll share those over the next few days.

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 12

As we wait for the final images to come back from the retouchers, lets cover the last few things we would normally do.

Once the shoot is done we would be right on top of accumulating all of the bills and invoices from the various vendors we used on the shoot. We would cross reference all of the bills that came in with our estimate to make sure that we have indeed accounted for everything. We would then generate a final invoice for the project, including all of our fees and expenses and get that off to the client at the earliest opportunity. The sooner we get it in the sooner we get paid!

Aside from that we would also create a “job jacket” if we haven’t already. For us, we put EVERYTHING that pertains to the job in here. All paperwork, forms model releases, client communications and a disk of all of the raw images…. everything!

We would also take some tome to organize and archive all of the imagery and make sure that we have three copies of the digital files. One on the main system, one in the job jacket and one on our system back-up.

We would put multiple calls into the client to make sure that they have received everything they need and check to make sure there is nothing additional that we need to do for them.

If the shoot was something of note, we would probably also get it onto our web site and into the portfolios.
And aside from that we sit back, and wait for the check to arrive. Oh… wait, no we don’t… we’re now unemployed! So now we have to go out and get another job and do this all over again!!!

We hope to get the final shots next week. So have a good weekend and we will share more on Monday (hopefully!)

Updated Website

If you haven’t been to the web site recently, check it out. We have made some modifications over the past few weeks. And be sure to check it out again in a couple weeks, because we plan on making a few more changes, rearranging a few things, and adding some of the new imagery. Comments are always welcome!

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 11

When we did the photo shoot, we also shot a series of “blanks”. These were shots of the set with no talent in it. We shot some at the beginning. Some in the middle. And some at the end. We also shot some set variations with a lantern and other objects and some different exposures of the lantern lit.

All of these “blanks” were for the post production end. It allows us to have all of the elements available to us in case we spot problems or want to make changes after the fact.

And that is exactly what happened in this case. Once we sat down after the shoot and started to evaluate everything, we decided to switch a few things around on the set. Our “blanks” were there to save the day.

We now regularly do this on every shoot we do. In fact we just shot a portrait yesterday for a company that we had done a session for, some time ago. They wanted the new portrait to match the previous ones we had done. It would have been so much easier had we shot blanks back then, but alas we had not started this practice. We were still able to match it up.. it just took longer than it had to.

© 2008 Dana Hursey Photography

So now everything is at the retoucher’s and we will share the final images once they are complete!

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 10

So Finally we get down to the actual images. We are by no means finished though. From here our base images go into the post-production phase where our digital artist works on them with us to take them the final few steps. But here are the images that came from the shoot. As we get the finals back after post production, we’ll post them as well so that you can see the finished product.

© 2008 Dana Hursey Photography

© 2008 Dana Hursey Photography © 2008 Dana Hursey Photography

© 2008 Dana Hursey Photography © 2008 Dana Hursey Photography

© 2008 Dana Hursey Photography © 2008 Dana Hursey Photography

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 9

Sorry! We got slammed with some projects that had to be accomplished immediately. So we have been absent for a few days.

Back to the Case Study-

Tuesday morning finally arrived. We got to the set early. There was still a lot of dressing to do as well as dialing in the lighting. Upon arrival the major portion of the set was done. There was still a lot to do but we also had until 1:30pm to do it.

We had set up and pre-lit the portrait set as we knew we would be doing those shots first and that would take the better part of the morning. Doing it this way also gave the set stylist more time to finesse the main set. The first talent was not scheduled to show up until 10:00 so the main order of business was to power up the cameras and computers, fine tune the lighting on the main set, and eat breakfast.

The Wardrobe Stylist and Hair & Make-up Artist arrived at 9:00. we went over the look we were going for and the wardrobe stylist ran out to get a few additional items.

The first talent showed up right on time (actually they all showed up a bit early!) We got him into make-up and it took a few rounds to find the look we were going for. The first one always takes a bit longer than the rest. But we did start to run a little behind schedule. Thankfully as the day went on we not only caught up be finished ahead of schedule.

Each of the talent really did a great job, followed direction and really got into their characters.

We were shooting with the Hasselblad H3DII (39 Megapixel). As we shot each of the portraits we averaged about 100 frames per model. We finished shooting the portraits around 12:30 / 1:00. We broke for lunch and once everyone was fat and happy we moved onto the big set to start the main shot. Wardrobe, Hair & Make-up, and Art Dept. all made their final tweaks and touch-ups and we started off. We shot the bulk of the shots without the dog as we knew we would have limited time with him, and we also knew we could composite almost anything in post-production. It was really great to be able to just spend a few hours letting the guys play. Almost from the moment we started I had a grin on my face because I knew we were going to get the shot I was after.

The dog came in around 3:00. We shot a bunch of shots of the dog in with the guys. All said and done we ended up with around 200 frames of the group shot. We then let the talent go, and quickly altered the portrait set-up so that we could do a portrait of the dog. That was fairly quick & easy. We then swapped out and did a quick still life of a container of chow mein. I wanted to have “hero” shots of all of the key participants, and the Chinese food was definitely one of them!

By the time we wrapped the chow mein shot the Art Dept. guys had the set almost completely struck. The only real task left to do that day was to wrap all of the gear, return all of the rentals and clear out the studio. We didn’t have a ton of time to evaluate what we had done that day, there would be plenty of time for that, the next day. But I was not worried. As we had progressed through the day we had pulled a shot here and a shot there from each set-up, and I was completely confident that we had accomplished my goal.

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 8

One other item that we did before the shoot was to make contact with our retoucher and forward them all of the illustrations and any other scrap material we had for their reference so that they could begin the process of thinking about what they were going to do with and for the final product.

We are scrambling right now to get some materials out to clients and so must put off the final few entries till next week. We will hopefully be able to post an entry on Monday about the shoot itself and follow up with a few notes on post-production.

Have a good weekend and we’ll be back on Monday!

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 7

Monday arrived and the shoot was one day away. The set stylist arrived at the studio and started his magic. The assistants went and picked up all of the rental equipment as well as all of our in-house equipment and we made several trips over to the studio to load in. A better part of the morning was simply organizing everything and setting up the cameras and computers to make sure all was functioning. We set up some preliminary lights and assessed the situation and decided on renting a few more items to fill out our arsenal.

After lunch and another run to pick up the additional rental items we started in earnest on pre-lighting. The individual portraits we would do were fairly straight forward as far as the set was concerned. We would simply be shooting them against a simple wall flat that was to be of the same material as the larger set. We wanted to have this be separate from the large set so as to be able to light each set independently and be able to start shooting while the set stylist was still finishing the main set. We had a tripod on the portrait set and a studio stand for the main set, both with quick release heads so that we could move the camera back and forth between the sets and always be able to snap right back into the exact position.

Dana Hursey Photography - Case Study Portrait Set-up

Above is the Portrait Set-Up with the larger set in the background. Again, these were simply going to be head and shoulder shots so we only needed a small wall segment for them to stand in front of.

Once we had the portrait set dialed in we moved over to the main set which was still very much in progress. We set the camera and and a few of the main set pieces and did some general lighting and around 6pm had to get out of the stylists way so that he and his crew could finish.

Dana Hursey Photography - Case Study - Set in Progress

Dana Hursey Photography - Case Study - Set in progress

Dana Hursey Photography - Case Study - Set in progress

There was still a lot of work to do before we started shooting, so tomorrow would be an early start.

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 6

Shoot day is drawing near and we had the studio reserved for a Monday and Tuesday. Monday was to load in, build sets, and pre-light. Tuesday was for final lighting and of course the shoot and then we needed to strike the sets and wrap out on the same day. But before Monday arrived. A lot of final checks.

We called all of the talent including the animal handler and gave them call times and locations. The schedule was set up something like this; We knew Hair, Make-up & Wardrobe would need some time with the guys as they came in. And we knew that we would still want to finesse the light a bit when we got in on the morning of the shoot, so we planned to shoot individual portraits of each of the models to accompany the main shot and we planned to do those first. That way we could stagger their call times and by the time we were done with the portraits, all of the talent would be there and in costume, and we could proceed to the main shot. It would also give everyone time to get the gist of the shot we were after. So we had the first model come in at 10:00am and then staggered the rest every half hour. We did not have the dog come until mid afternoon, because I thought we would just shoot him separately and drop him in during post production.

Back to our final checks the week before… We called all of the crew and gave them call times and location as well. In addition, the caterers needed the same info and the studio wanted to know what time we were coming in both days. We had a bunch of equipment that we were going to need in addition to all of the stuff we have on hand. A list was developed and we put that equipment on hold about a week before we needed it. So we called to double check that it was all in order and ready to be picked up on Monday morning. We did a once over on the cameras and also took inventory to make sure we had enough “expendables” (i.e. Gaffer’s Tape, FoamCore, etc)

On the Friday before, once we knew everyone had their call times and what was expected of them, there was nothing left to do but sit back, enjoy the weekend and try not to stress about anything. Monday would come soon enough and then the game would be on.

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 5

Once we have had an initial discussion about creative, a lot of things start to happen simultaneously. One would be casting, which we have already talked about. Once casting is done and talent is locked in, it is time to get all of the model info to the wardrobe stylist so that they can start shopping. Certainly a discussion with the stylist will be necessary so that they are clear on what is needed. It is often a good idea to have the various stylists talk to each other to ensure that there is no cross over or nothing forgotten as a result of one stylist thinking the other was taking care of something.

A longer process is props and sets. As all of these items usually have to be approved by the client. For this particular shoot, since I was the client it was easier to spend an afternoon going around town with the stylist to go over things rather than him e mailing hundreds of photos of what is out there. It also spawned conversation about alternatives which was great.

At this time if we were doing this production for a client we would also start building the production book. This book contains everything pertaining to the shoot. Every person involved would be listed with phone and e mail contacts. Locations and maps. List and photos of talent with agency contacts. A breakdown of the shoot and schedule. Photos of all of the props to be used etc.

And lastly, one of the most important things to coordinate… The Food! Find a great caterer. It makes all of the difference. I would share the info of mine, but I don’t want them to get so busy that I cannot get them anymore!! On this shoot, everyone was pitching in and doing things for as little as possible, so for me it was important to feed them really well!!

Adobe Lightroom v2.0 Public Beta Available

Another quick segue from the Case Study. My assistant Dylan pointed me to the new public beta for Lightroom 2.0 that Adobe is running. Right now our system is operating smoothly, and while I am the first to want to try the latest thing, I am going to exercise restraint in this instance and opt for stability. It is sounding like the full version might be available late summer or early fall. But check it out here. Download and have fun!

Photo Shoot Production Case Study – Part 4

Continuing with the Case Study… After we would do the estimate and make any adjustments required by the client or agency to secure the project, we would get some kind of commitment from the agency, whether it would be a P.O., a signed copy of the estimate or an advance check, we would just want to make sure to have something in hand before we proceeded.

But once we got the official okay, the next step would be to lock in the dates. So, that would mean putting a “hold” on the studio, assistants, all of the various stylists, and any talent that may have already been decided, although it is more likely that that would still be yet to come.

If one was using a producer, most of this would fall under their responsibility. We haven’t talked much about producers, but if your budget can afford one, they make your life infinitely easier as it is up to them to worry about most of these details and up to them to make sure it all comes together seamlessly. The majority of the stuff we will be talking about in the next series of posts would most likely be handled by a producer.

Once dates are locked in, it is time to get with the art director to start talking about “creative” .. or in other words, what this shot is actually going to look like. For shots like this I would usually bring the set stylist in on that conversation so that I am not having to repeat anything and it also reduces the chances of any misunderstandings or alternate interpretations.

Hasselblad Phocus Beta Released

A quick break from the Production Case Study we have been sharing the past few days to mention that Hasselblad has FINALLY released a beta of their new software “Phocus” for capturing and processing files taken with their cameras. We downloaded it yesterday and played around with it a bit.

They have been promising this software since December and we have been anxiously awaiting it, despite the fact that it is still only a beta (test) version.

The software takes on the look and workflow similar to Lightroom and Aperture although certainly not as extensive. But it also offers the ability to capture directly into it, which is still lacking in the other pieces of software.

While this software is a VAST improvement over its predecessor FlexColor I have to say that after doing side by side comparisons I still prefer Lightroom despite its inability to tether to cameras.

The workaround we use for the Canon’s is to enable Lightroom’s Auto Import Feature from a “watched” folder and then shoot tethered to the camera with Canon’s capture software and direct the images to that folder.

There really is no workaround for the Hasselblad at this time so we generally shoot a few frames export them as DNG’s and then look at them in Lightroom to make sure we are happy, and then just do the balance of the shoot with Hasselblad’s software. Then at the end of the shoot we bring the entire project into Lightroom.

It is worth noting that going outside the Hasselblad software, you loose a few features that have the potential of being vital to your shot, namely all of the DAC features which automatically corrects for lens distortion, and chromatic aberration and vignetting.

Another item of note from Hasselblad is that the latest version of Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.2) now supports all of the Hasselblad RAW File Formats, so you can see previews and thumbnails of Hasselblad files right in the finder as well as Aperture!

You can find out more about the latest from Hasselblad at their web site.

And you can download the Beta version of Hasselblad’s Phocus here.