One camera, one light and 2 minutes of editing…

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: August 10, 2010

Category: General

It doesn’t get much easier than this; one camera, one light and no more than 2 minutes of editing…

Step 1: Expose for the sky (Set the scene)
You have to start somewhere so: Camera in Manual, iso 100, Shutter Speed set to 1/250th second and an initial Aperture of f/5.6. The result of these settings was that the sky was just a little too bright and more detail in the clouds was needed. So, to allow less light into the scene and consequently bring out more detail in the sky the Aperture was changed to f/8.0 so reducing the light by 1 stop. The option to increase the Shutter Speed wasn’t there as I was already at the maximum sync speed of 1/250th second which in Laymen’s Terms is the optimum speed that the camera and flash can talk to each other and all the light coming from the flash head fills the camera’s sensor.

Step 2: Light the subject
Now that the camera has been used to ‘set the scene’ all that remains is to light the subject. For this I used an Elinchrom Quadra fitted into a 1m square softbox on a monopod and being held by a V.A.L. (Voice Activated Light stand) positioned camera right with a final power setting of 5.

The actual rock was no more than about 3ft high so to give the impression of it being higher than it was meant shooting low to the floor (or as David Hobby say ‘pressing your chest into the Rabbit droppings’) and around 4ft from the base with the dog (Bella) owner stood to my right hand side doing their best ‘Dog Whisperer’ impression so she looked in the right direction.

Step 3: Editing in Photoshop
Editing time was minimal with just a few quick and simple steps being required to achieve the final look:

  • One pass of the Burn Tool over the sky set to Midtones at a value of about 20%
  • Paint with Dodge Tool set to Shadows at a strength of 15% on the right side of the jaw to bring out a little more detail.
  • Signs of dog collar removed using CS5’s ‘Content Aware Fill’.
  • Make a selection of the rocks using the lasso tool with a slight ‘feather’ and apply a Contrast Adjustment Layer using the pre installed ‘Medium Contrast’ setting. The Blend mode of this Contrast Layer was then changed to ‘Luminosity’ so as to cancel out any changes to colour tone/saturation.
  • Detail in eyes enhanced by painting over once with the ‘Sharpen Tool’ set to a strength of 20%
  • Greyscale version created on layer above and opacity reduced to 25%
  • Darken down bottom left and right hand corners using the Burn Tool.

Of course photographing an animal such as a dog means working fast so prior to Bella getting into place a few minutes were spend beforehand getting both camera and flash settings as good as ready so that if any adjustments were needed they would have been minimal (and quick).

As always if you have any questions, comments or suggestions about this post then please feel free to make use of the comments section below,
Enjoy 🙂

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  1. Scot Baston

    Hi Glyn,

    it is good to see this technique being used with a model that may not have been as patient as Danny was.

    loving the composition here, especially as the model might not have been too responsive to your ‘look left, now look right… no look left’

    have a good one my friend and catch up soon


    • Glyn

      @Scot…Definitely one to get set up and ready to go in advance due to the very narrow window of opportunity…lol

  2. neal

    Nice work mate and a good little tutorial 🙂 Thats a great piccie of the doggie 🙂

    • Glyn

      @Neal…Cheers Buddy

  3. Tim Skipper

    Great looking image. Your right about dogs, they are hard to photograph so you got to work fast. Drag your feet and you will lose that look your hoping for.

    As always your work looks fantastic.

    • Glyn

      @Tim…Absolutely mate; speed is definitely called for…lol 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words; very good of you.

  4. Ilan (@ilanbr)

    Always a great pleasure to read about ‘behind the scenes’ process. One can learn much from others experience that way 🙂
    Thanks for sharing, glad to find your blog! 🙂

    • Glyn

      @Ilan…Thanks for dropping by and for commenting; very kind of you. It’s great to hear that the content is useful.



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