Help dissecting this photographers process?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by BrittneyRose, Jan 10, 2020.

  1. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Light sources which can be controlled easily...24×24 inch recessed-face, gridded softboxes. 11.5 inch metal 50 degree reflectors with 10 and 20 and 35 degree grids...snoots. smaller light sources, like 16 and 20 inch beauty dishes...old- school stuff...none of this modern 72- inch umbrella stuff...


     
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  2. Tim Tucker 2

    Tim Tucker 2 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm not drunk, and I'm not trying to define art for anybody. I'm only trying to answer the original question, how do I make my images more moody like these?

    So what mood are you trying to get the viewer to feel, isolation, loneliness, quiet reflection? And what is it in an image that evokes such moodiness in the viewer? The answer, as I tried to communicate in my original post lies along the lines of understanding what you feel and why you feel it.

    A musician has learnt to play all the right notes in the right order and now wants to make his music more moody. The teacher says, "play it with feeling, it can be boredom or laziness if you like only play it with that feeling and see what it sounds like."

    It is a process and not an absolute answer. The whole idea is that you break out of the idea that there is an absolute answer that you need to find to understand. You are trying not only to teach your ear to listen and hear the subtle differences but also make the more abstract connections directly to how you feel without trying to rationalize them to logic or process.

    You can follow a similar process with visual images and a strange thing happens, you change your understanding of how images work and also the language you use to describe them. You begin to see more abstract connections and at some point along the way you will realize that there isn't a logical or technical process with absolute answers that describes why we feel moody when we view an image. Also note the shift in language, I do not talk about images as being moody but the way a viewer feels moody when they look at images.

    The fact we search for a logical and absolute answer is hard wired into our thought process and evolution, we see the world as an absolute place and for an absolute understanding because we find it far easier to navigate and survive in, not because everything has an absolute and logical answer. We see an image as being moody and therefore assume the moodiness must be in the image because we view what we see as absolute it rarely occurs to us to think in terms of the image being inert and the mood as just in your head. If you accept that human emotion is irrational, then so to is our desire for moodiness to be in absolute property of an image that can then further be described in technical terms. It's also been proved beyond doubt that the very language we use to rationalize and categorize changes not only the way we view the world, but actually also alters the way we see it. Vision is not absolute, if you feel moody when you view an image it doesn't mean the image is moody, it means that you as a human feel. This all makes perfect and logical sense to me.

    And this is half the problem, my language is now so different as to make my ramblings seem as idiotic and incorrect as the technical explanation does to me. Buying a certain kind of light and shooting raw doesn't move me any closer to understanding how to make moody images. But then I've deliberately sought to dismiss and ignore such a way of thinking, so that's no surprise. I can tell you that a technical understanding and equipment never helped me to do anything other than technically competent shots. To understand mood I had to break out of that way of thinking and hence the answer.

    Just looking at the first of Tania's shots, it looks like a set as in arranged rather than processed, including the TV which was on and showing the picture. I don't think that there is a lot of equipment used, that it was all a lot more basic than the result suggests, (but then you may be looking for a complex result because you link moody to technical and so think in terms of more moody/better technical where no such relationship exists, who knows...). I notice that the light is very red and as Dan indicated quite bold as is the cyan on the TV, so try exactly what he suggests with the WB and see how it makes you feel. But I also look more to the detail, and not just to the absolute as in what is in the image. I compare it to my memory, my experience and so look to see how it differs, to what is missing and how that affects how I feel. The lack of personal items for instance. Also she is half dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed, but only on the TV screen. How does this change the way you interpret the meaning of what this represents, how does it change if she was in the room sitting on the bed.

    How do you apply this to your images?

    Personally I don't think the answer lies in buying a new light. But it's your photo...

    This is nothing personal but I do find that my language is becoming so different from the technical and absolute preferred on forums, I also sense a resistance of many to let go of the technical and absolute and so seem to provoke more confrontation than understanding. So shall keep my thoughts to myself and just post the odd image from now on. Being honest this is not due to my overwhelming humility and respect for your feelings... But actually has more to do with it not helping me, just as my posts are often just about me understanding what I wish to explore. I have chosen this and I find having to justify it in online conversations tiring. It's as though the search for an absolute scientific/technical answer automatically seems to provoke the assumption that there is a right and wrong way, that if there is an absolute answer it simply can't be to do with the abstract relationships that evoke emotion.

    But then the original question was how to make an image more moody...

    ;);););)

    Ciao until I have an interesting image to post, which might be some time the rate I'm going.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  3. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    no it wasn't.
     
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  4. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    After considering the responses and looking at the link again, the common threads in producing her images are 1) as @Tim Tucker 2 alluudes to an artistry image actually begins in the mind, with an idea. 2) As you develop that idea you make decisicions on composition and lighting and 3) You execute. If you've planned accordingly then the image represents your vision.

    Scrolling through the images in her link as others have pointed out she has used WB creatively. WB doesn't have to be an absolute, when used creatively either in camera setting, gelled flash, a combination of both, and post it can change the overall feel of the image. IE: By adding a half-strength green gel to your main light and adjusting your camera’s White Balance setting to the Fluorescent Light option, anything lit with the flash will appear neutral, while the ambient light will shift to a magenta tone.

    It appears that at least the few I checked were shot wide open, and likely shot at a slower shutter (shutter info was deleted from metadata). Doing so would have allowed her to use a wide range of simple lighting options from ambient, reflectors, off camera speedlights, even little LED flashlights. When used with a slow shutter LED flashlights can be used like a spotlight or a brush to paint light.

    IMO she knew what she wanted and how she would go about achieving the look before she picked up the camera.
     
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  5. Tim Tucker 2

    Tim Tucker 2 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The question can be condensed to:

    "Please help me understand what I need to do to achieve this moody tone with lighting either through my metering process or editing process."

    As I said I don't wish to try to justify why I have reached this answer, only state my opinion after looking at the shots in the link. If you wish there to be a technical answer defined by lighting/metering/editing all well and good and you can explain it in those terms.

    But you could also surrender control by not post processing, using auto modes even illogical ones, and just one single angle-poise light with different wattage bulbs and perhaps a sheet of red cellophane placed in random positions, then just seeing if any of the images *grab you*, a process and learning continued over many years. It's a perfectly valid approach, and in such a process the actual settings, which of course exist, become a random element rather than the rational one and you simply cease to define the image in those terms because they fail to describe how you create and understand mood in photographs.

    Do what works for you. I don't wish to debate it and have no interest in justifying why I think this way.
     
  6. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The question is literally asking for a technical answer...

    WTF.

    A valid approach to learning how to create moody tones/light in an image, like the photographer linked in the first thread is to:
    1. surrender control,
    2. use randomly set the dial on your camera,
    3. randomly point a desktop lamp in various directions,
    4. hope an image works out?

    Riveting.



    My suggestion stands at metering for highlights as technical suggestion to help achieve the look. I'd also add to get up early and shoot during sunrise, and again at sunset -- learning how to deal with and expose for the low directional light -- which many of the Klien's shots are done in front of window lights with various modifiers on them (70s curtains and blackout shades).

    I'm absolutely aware these following images do not match the mood, but they get you into the right direction of what Klein is doing with the light.

    [​IMG]
    Pookie on Table Looking Outside
    by Braineack, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Belle in Sunlight
    by Braineack, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Pookie Lazy Sunday Morning
    by Braineack, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Pookie in Sun
    by Braineack, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Connie in window Light
    by Braineack, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Sonny under curtain
    by Braineack, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Hobbes Nap
    by Braineack, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    This is why we can't have fake trees.
    by Braineack, on Flickr

    All these were natural window light images, where I expose for the direct light. Very much like @Designer was suggesting about selective light, not overall light. You can see in many of them, the plantation shutters and panes provide interesting shadows. I believe Klein is shooting in a similar manner, using natural light in many shots, and playing with the drapes/shades in order to light the scene "selectively". It's really important you expose for the highlights here, making sure to control blow-outs, and then since im shooting RAW I can selectively recovery any shadow detail as needed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
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  7. Tim Tucker 2

    Tim Tucker 2 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    See what I mean?

    It becomes a confrontation where you believe your ideas and viewpoint are challenged and you feel obliged to defend them. I do not ridicule you, only offer a different viewpoint.

    I'm fed up with this, I don't wish to participate, you can win. It applies to all photography at all levels, there is no other way to think or do. I'm an idiot and my gallery just proves this.

    I will post when I have an image I feel worth posting, but have no desire to be involved in further discussion because I simply find this destructive.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I think you need to dramatically increase the drama in your lighting. Her photos are more about lighting than they are about editing. She uses a variety of lighting techniques and I think that you will have the most Improvement in your pictures by lighting in a more dramatic style.

    Her success is not just about metering or editing.
     
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  9. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    @Tim Tucker 2 I find your posts quite valuable, myself. It is difficult but rewarding to separate the technical from the emotional. I also offer a point for consideration:
    Musicians and photographers and all artists are trying to emote through a fixed or otherwise limited form. One can't see or hear "feeling" in an image or piece of music, though. So the musician expresses emotion with technical skill in the use of their instrument. Techniques like subtle vibrato, slight or apparent variations in time and tone, and most obviously the exploitation and expressive use of dynamic range. Technical, quantifiable, shareable skills to enhance the emotive value within the limitations of the medium.

    Suggestion or direction to play a certain passage "pianissimo" is a technical direction equivalent to a metering suggestion, and it can make things moody.
     
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  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I just spent quite a while at Tania's Instagram, which has over 270 posts.

    She is an accomplished art and fashion photographer and it appears to me that a lot of her photos are lighted with artificial light. It also appears to me that she uses large white reflector Flats for a number of her photos. If I were to direct you I would say to get some gels for warming light : not all of us have the luxury of working in New Mexico or the American southwest where they have gorgeous light. Where I live we only have two or three months a year where the natural light is sweet ,and warm.

    I would characterize her style as being mostly sweet,warm light. I would shoot with my white balance set to warm, or as Dan stated above, to Shade. There is a subtle difference between shooting in raw in Auto white balance and shooting in a set white balance.


    I would urge you to buy some studio strobes and some large sheets of gel to warm your light substantially. A large percentage of the photos I saw on her Instagram were quite orangey or yellow, or warm. She is not going for technical accuracy, but rather a mood evoked by the warmth of the light.

    I can see the obvious influence of Cindy Sherman in her work,as shown by the number of tableau self portraits that she does, but she is also an accomplished fashion photographer, most recently being featured in Vogue magazine.

    In quite a few of her photos I see what looks to me like a large amount white reflector fill. Not silver reflective fill, not gold reflector fill,but neutral white. I would say in one word or two that you need to learn how to light. Her work is not so much about processing as it is about using soft and warm light and lighting for dramatic effect.

    These are technical observations and technical recommendations. Her degree of artistry and her mastery of ennui and irony are quite amazing. She has a master's degree in photography, and it is clear that she knows her way around a camera.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
  11. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It's not about winning, I just don't think you're being helpful to someone looking technical answers.

    Take your musician analogy, that would be like if I asked: hey guys I'm really into rolling Stones right now, how can I acquire Kieth Richards twangy sound. And you tell me: first learn to master the guitar, then take cocaine.

    I absolutely couldn't do what Klein has done, mostly the subject you touch on, but I do think I have an insight into how the images were created from a technical side.

    I'm not judging your work, im just thinking if I was in the OP's shoes I would have hated a reply like your initial.

    I'll try to play nicer.
     
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  12. JBPhotog

    JBPhotog No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    @BrittneyRose, FWIW, I'd start with a setup you want to shoot then eliminate all the light, start with one at a time and build from there. Tania's style is 'low key' 'warm' and there are a number of ways to achieve this.

    Analyze the photos carefully and you will see the photographer wants them to look like they were lit by one source for the most part, in fact I'd say she was attempting to mimic the sun. Three options are the sun, a tungsten fresnel or a strobe, don't rule out the use of flags to act as cutters to shape your pools of light for a shaft of light look as opposed to a spot of light, grids will control spill too. This will give you the control to have the shadows go dark and pools of light will create the 'low key' narrative. However, more than one light source may be needed depending on your subject and setting but it has to evoke a sense of believability otherwise it will look false.

    Depending on the source, manipulation of the WB and/or gelling the source or lens will get you the 'warm' part, there are many ways to accomplish this.

    And of course, shoot in Raw which gives you the WB, DR and contrast control you will want in post processing.
     
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