Shooting a Vampire ‘On Location’ with Lastolite & Nik Software

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: September 30, 2011

Category: General

Hi Folks,
Just sorting through some  images for the portfolio the other day and I realised there was one in particular that I’d been meaning to talk about here on the blog…

This particular shot is one from the very first TipSquirrel Workshop [Link] held at Peterborough Cathedral that I instructed on along with Gavin Hoey; where I had 2, 1 hour segments on location portrait shoots and Gavin teaching a HDR segment.

Ok so first of all let’s take a look at the lighting and then touch on some of the editing that was done in Photoshop…

Now not everyone has big powerful lighting for use on location but most people who have more then average interest in photography do have one or 2 small battery powered strobes. So, with that in mind that is all I limited myself to using during the Workshop…Nikon SB800 Speedlights, but in addition some fairly new modifiers from Lastolite: Two Hotrod Strip Softboxes.

Regular readers of the blog will know that I’m a big fan of using Stripboxes in the studio so seeing that Lastolite introduced this new range of modifiers I just had to give them a go; in fact this workshop was the very first time I’d put them to use…

So with two(2) of the Lastolite Hot Rod Strip Boxes behind and to the side of our model, the light to the front was yet another SB800 Speedlight but this one being in an Ezybox.

Ideally I would have had this light on a boom to the front of the model but because of time restraints and also wanting to make this whole shoot repeatable for those  attending, I just had it on a straight forward light stand and positioned just out of frame.

Anyway despite it being a bright sunny day, the Speedlights coped just fine allowing me to end up with an image I was happy to then take through and spend some time editing…

Now I’m not going to go into depth covering exactly what was done in Photoshop with this image and there’s a couple of reasons for that i.e. the time it took means there’s quite a few steps involved and also I can’t actually recall everything that I did 🙂

Of course at the start I spent time removing any imperfections, sharpening, enhancing details, whitening the skin, focusing where the main light falls in the picture, adding some fog/mist and so on, and that covers about 80% or so of what was done; the last 20% or so though is where I kind of lose track as it’s here that the main ‘look’ of the picture comes in.

This 80/20 is something that Calvin Hollywood talks about meaning that the remaining 20% of the editing takes about 80% of the entire editing time, oh and incidentally it’s here that I’ve added something into my editing workflow…

I used to have a big hang up about using plug ins and this goes back to a time when I first started out. You see I’d studied and studied to a point that I started to feel quite confident in Photoshop but then at the same time, more and more work was coming in which meant more and more editing. So, to speed up the editing process I started using plug ins but because of the way I was using them i.e. one click fixes I found I was actually doing less techniques in photoshop and instead using the Plugins exclusively and as a consequence began to deskill myself. I actually started to feel a bit of a fraud when people would ask how I’d edited an image and I couldn’t really give an answer…because it was down to the Plugin.

Long story short, I removed every single Plugin I had and took everything back to basics; studying and playing in Photoshop to bring my skill level and confidence back up and this remains the same today as I’m continually studying and playing to keep improving and learning new tips and techniques.

However, it’s been Calvin Hollyowood and Gabor Richter that have recently turned me back on to using Plugins, in particular Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Complete and Topaz Details, but using them correctly i.e. to finish off an image and using them in conjunction with Photoshop and not as a replacement…does that make sense?

I guess what I’m getting here is that if you’re going to use plugins don’t rely 100% on them and race through your editing adding effect after effect and having no real idea as to what you’re doing.

Right, time to go and make sure everything is ready for tomorrow’s Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk in Oxford, but in the meantime, as always if you have any questions or comments please feel free to make use of the comments section below.

Oh one last thing…here’s a list of the plug ins I have installed and make use of on a day to day basis:
Nik Color Efex Pro 4.0 Complete [Link]
Nik Silver Efex Pro [Link]
Topaz Details [Link]

Enjoy 🙂

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  1. Andrew Keane

    Great post. I agree with what you say about plugins, though I am a big fan of Colour Efex 3.0. I am also a HUGE admirer of Calvin’s work, which is how I found your work. I love both your styles, it has certainly inspired and shaped the direction of my photography.

    • Glyn

      Andrew that’s so good to hear. Calvin ROCKS huh 🙂

  2. DaveT

    Hi Glyn,

    Impressive shot and those strip lightboxes look good.

    I understand your point about Photoshop skills and plug ins, the advantage you have got is that you know exactly what is going to happen to the image when applying the plugin adjustment. That, I think, is a good thing because you can make a considered decision rather than…… I wonder what will happen if I just apply this?

    One of the great advantages of plugins though, is that they can speed your workflow up, and if you have a lot of images to work with, must be an advantage.

    BTW is this a sign you have just turned the big 40 – “……..also I can’t actually recall everything that I did” . It’s a slippery slope form her on mate 😉


  3. Photography by Jef

    I’d like a shot at editing that image myself. Do you mind sending me the RAW file?

    • Glyn

      I’m afraid that’s not possible Jef as this was a commissioned shoot, but thanks for looking in and for asking.



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