How do you get images to look this good?

Stacylouwho

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This is one of my favorite photographers work from back home. This one was published. The first photo is stunning to me. I was wondering if you well experienced photographers could help me figure out why this looks so amazing? I want all my photos to look this good. :D I am thinking the first might be an HDR. Am I wrong?

A Texas Senior Session | Senior Style Guide
 

tirediron

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Mainly a consistent processing style; I'm guessing a PS or LR action of some sort, which is warming everything slightly. The key points technically are good lighting and a shallow DoF so that the subject 'pops' and backgrounds which contain few or no bright/distracting elements.
 

amolitor

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Notice that the face pops out at you. There are a bunch of things being done here to make that happen.

Obviously there's shallow depth of field in play, most of the girl is out of focus. However, if you look in the background you'll see that the light is pretty flat. She's actually being shot on an overcast day, I think. Her face is brightly/warmly lit. This could have been done with a flash, or a reflector. Looking at the reflections in her eyes I doubt either of those, I think this was a well-exposed somewhat flat picture when it was made.

I think the face area has been somewhat aggressively sharpened, and some burning/dodging and/or contrast adjustments have been made (this are roughly the same, one is done with a burn/dodge tool and the other with a curves tool, but the effects look pretty similar, and indeed look somewhat similar to simply lighting the face up with a suitable lighting setup). This creates a lot of contrast in the face, the eyelashes are BLACK, the skin tones are dramatic.

Her skin has probably been smoothed and tidied up. Her features may even have been subtly adjusted for symmetry. Or, possibly, she's just a very good looking girl.
 

kathyt

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Shallow DOF, makeup artist, proper exposure, selectively enhancing the colors in PP, sharpening the eyes for sure, proper wardrobe selection, awesome locations, perfect lighting, and experience.
 

KmH

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[h=2]How do you get images to look this good?[/h]
Pretty much all of what Kathy covered. In short, become an expert (ie, professional) photographer.
Learn all the aspects related to doing people photography - lighting, exposure, posing, using as long a focal length as you can, composition, location selection, image editing.

It helps if the subject looks like a professional model too.
 

cptkid

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Basically perfect lighting & an hour or so in post.

Most likely the skin has gone through, frequency separation, hue & saturation adjustments along with a load of dodge and burning.

Eye work as well, cleaned up the whites, brought out the colour, and most likely some d&b on the eyes too.

+ teeth.


Basically lots and lots of post lol.
 

DiskoJoe

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Derrel

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Shoot with a high-quality lens on a modern, full-frame camera (this looks like Canon to me) in open shade or against the light, so that the light on the face is very flat, and low in contrast. Then process the daylights out of the resulting flat-lighted images.

Look at her face in the first few shots: the light is utterly flat, zero lighting ratio, because of shooting in open shade, and then processing the flat light heavily. There is no modeling or shaping to her facial features..the shadows are very,very open,and exist in very small amounts. In the backlighted stuff, shot against the sunlight, the foreground is providing some natural fill-in light, and the exposure in the highlights is totally,totally blown...but it's not that noticeable because the shadow-side exposure is solid, and the processing looks appropriate.

It might sound like I am knocking this style, as words like "flat light" and "process the daylights out of" can be assumed to have negative connotations, but this is actually pretty simple: the photographer has sought out the kind of light that allows for the kind of processing the images will be given. The flatter the light at the time the shots are made, the easier it is to crank up the post-processing. This is basically shooting as much as possible, in low-ratio, even lighting.

If the photographer had shot in say, dappled sunlight that hit her face, the way many beginners will do, this set would be anightmare. Instead, it's ALL shot in open shade, white balanced warmer, and juiced up in post. Keeping the highlights from blowing out is not really a concern; the hair is detail-free in some spots, yeah, but...we're looking at her face, which was exposed right for the kind of post processing he had in mind!
 

nycphotography

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Shoot with a high-quality lens on a modern, full-frame camera (this looks like Canon to me) in open shade or against the light, so that the light on the face is very flat, and low in contrast. Then process the daylights out of the resulting flat-lighted images.

Look at her face in the first few shots: the light is utterly flat, zero lighting ratio, because of shooting in open shade, and then processing the flat light heavily. There is no modeling or shaping to her facial features..the shadows are very,very open,and exist in very small amounts. In the backlighted stuff, shot against the sunlight, the foreground is providing some natural fill-in light, and the exposure in the highlights is totally,totally blown...but it's not that noticeable because the shadow-side exposure is solid, and the processing looks appropriate.

It might sound like I am knocking this style, as words like "flat light" and "process the daylights out of" can be assumed to have negative connotations, but this is actually pretty simple: the photographer has sought out the kind of light that allows for the kind of processing the images will be given. The flatter the light at the time the shots are made, the easier it is to crank up the post-processing. This is basically shooting as much as possible, in low-ratio, even lighting.

If the photographer had shot in say, dappled sunlight that hit her face, the way many beginners will do, this set would be anightmare. Instead, it's ALL shot in open shade, white balanced warmer, and juiced up in post. Keeping the highlights from blowing out is not really a concern; the hair is detail-free in some spots, yeah, but...we're looking at her face, which was exposed right for the kind of post processing he had in mind!

It's also because flat light is flattering and a lot of "beauty" photography uses it. IE big huge softboxes places close to the subject.

It's cheap, it's flattering, it's easy, and it works.

The rest is shallow DOF, posing, positioning, composing... and processing.
 

Derrel

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Exactly...flat lighting hides a ton of flaws in skin...wrinkles, odd skin textures, minor blemishes, all sorts of things are made less-obvious by flat lighting. The samples show were from a photographer who shot in Texas, on fairly light-colored ground, in an area where the earth itself forms a sort of giant reflector surface, free of green grass, which is notorious for polluting backlighted shadows with a greenish tinge.

The shallow depth of field sublimates the background a lot. Look at the background areas in one of the early shots; the SUN-lighted area is utterly blown out, and would have that sickly yellow look that blown digital highlights suffer from; but, since it's well out of focus, the blown highlights render as, basically, a light, airy "color-wash".

One of the easiest ways to minimize ugly, blown highlights when shooting in back-lighting or open shade, is to use a long lens length, one that will really blow out the background elements, and turn ugly, overexposed areas into light, airy colored background...135 f/2, 180mm f/2.8, the long end of your 70-200, or a 300mm lens...or even a 50mm fairly wide open like f/2.2 to f/2.8, or 85mm lens fairly wide-open, to make the focus nice and selective.

The photographer who shot those senior portraits used what he or she had around, and used it well. Like nycphotography said, "DOF, posing, positioning, composing... and processing."
 

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