Over the last few months my son Ben has become quite an accomplished guitar player. For his 18th birthday he bought a Charvel Desolation Single Cut DS-1 Floyd Rose guitar in Flat Black. It’s a spectacular guitar and I thought it might be nice to shoot a portrait session with him and the guitar.
I wanted to create the impression that he was being lit by a spotlight whilst maintaining the detail in the guitar. The lighting needed to be subtle but at the same time strong enough to bring out any detail.
I tried several different lighting set ups but finally settled on the one below.
I set up two speedlights. The first was a Nikon SB910 set to manual at ½ power. It was stood on a lighting stand through as 24” shoot-through umbrella. The light was positioned directly in front of him slightly higher than his face.
The second was a Nikon SB600 with a 22.5 degree grid. This was set on a stand and aimed directly at his right hand, set to manual and reduced to ¼ power.
Both speedlights were controlled using the pop-up flash on the D300s in commander mode.
I took a few test shots so that I could establish the optimum position for the lights to create the effect I was after. Shooting in RAW I decided to slightly underexpose the shot so that I’d have some room for movement when I got the image in Adobe Camera RAW.
Below is the start image in ACR. As you can see the effect is almost there. It just needed a few adjustments to bring out the detail.
|Initial Image in Adobe Camera RAW|
I lifted the exposure and also added a little fill light. I increased the blacks slightly and also added some clarity and vibrancy. The final ACR image is below.
|Adjusted Image in Adobe Camera RAW|
After launching it into Photoshop CS5 it was now time to give it an edgy, gritty look. I decided to do this using Nik COLOR EFEX PRO4. There were a few filters I could have chosen but the one that gave me the look I wanted was the Bleach Bypass filter. Using the pre-sets I selected the one that I liked the look of and used it without any further tweaking.
|Color Efes Pro|
Once back in CS5 the one thing I did notice was that the filter had exaggerated some of the defects in the wall behind my subject. I eliminated most of the larger defects using the spot healing brush but I chose to leave some a the smaller ones to add to the gritty look. Lastly I added some Film Grain just to give it a final edge.
|Final image adjustments in Adobe Photoshop CS5|
This is the final image which came out pretty much exactly as I wanted it to. Very Pleased as was my subject.