Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout Black Chicks

My shoot last night had a brown sugar theme. My victim certainly personified the adage, "long tall drink of water."

And I told her so.

Before we shot, in fact before she climbed into the makeup chair, she informed me she's very "photogenic." Okay. No offense, sweetie, but I'll be the judge of that. (I didn't actually say that but I was thinking it, dammit!)

As it turned out...

She was right.

And I told her as much.

New-ish photographers have occasionally asked me if I make lighting adjustments when shooting black chicks. I don't. Not really. If or when I do, it's not, as a rule, because they're black. I might make some adjustments but not any more so than I would for shooting most any model: black, white, brown, or yellow.

All people are, basically, 18% gray in terms of exposure. Leastwise, regarding their skin's mid-tones. (That "people" classification, BTW, includes all models even if some of them sometimes act otherwise. Un-people-like, I mean.) You've heard the phrase we're all pink on the inside? Well, we're all 18% gray on the outside. It's a convenient truth from a photography and lighting and exposure point-of-view.

Sure, if a model has very VERY dark skin, I might make some adjustments to enhance detail or change the contrast but, basically, exposure doesn't change much, if at all. Conversely, I'll also make adjustments if the model's skin is very VERY white. BTW, I'm not bringing up "very VERY white or dark" as if those are bad things. We're photographers. We deal with what's in front of us. Obviously, we sometimes have to adjust things: our lights, our exposure, even our attitudes. It's like hair. I certainly make adjustments to compensate for hair color. Platinum blond versus jet black call for differences in accenting and highlighting.

The long tall drink of water at the top is Marie. I shot her last night. Used three lights and a Lumopro Lite Panel to illuminate her.


Barbu M said...

Jimmy, I saw this in other pictures from you but this time it really stands out: the color is unnatural, like reddish accents all over plus a full cup of oversaturation.
Is this by your (vision) choice or...?

jimmyd said...

@Barbu: The colors don't look saturated or too red on my 4 yr-old laptop's LCD screen. (LOL) That would be the same laptop I processed the image on. Maybe it's time for a new computer? Or a color-calibrator or something? :-)

Tom Nguyen said...

wow, a model with pubic hair! Seems like a rare treat these days (at least for me hehe)

mark said...

Yeah Jimmy, I agree with Barbu, Color is definitely off on this one.

jimmyd said...

@Mark-- Like I said to Barbu, it might be the screen on my old laptop. I desaturated the image and replaced it. Hope that's better cuz, at the moment, my aging laptop is all I have up and running to do any processing on.

RandJ-Photo said...

Laptops and LCDs in general can be a pain. I calibrate all of mine but they still wind up looking overly bright.

I get the balance OK though. And this one seems a bit red. Not bad as I think I'm seeing the replacement.

On the skin tone issue, we have a lot of Haitians around this area. Along with some others they have very dark, very black skin. I do open up a tad so their features reproduce well. But that's due more to the dynamic range of the cameras.

Anonymous said...

How do you get an evenly exposed white background using three lights?

Rick D.

jimmyd said...

@RickD: Simple. I don't. My two kickers in the back, both with shoot-thru umbrellas, are angled so their light is kind of feathered between the model and the seamless. This helps light the BG altho not in an overly bright and uniform way. But in post, when I adjust the luma levels, a lot of that BG gets white or whiter. The pics I'm shooting for this client don't need to have the BG uniform and completely white. They will be cutting all the models out of the images for use on their website.

Fusion Photo said...

Thanks Jimmy, once again you answered a few questions that had been bouncing around in my head for awhile.

Fusion Photo