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White Background for Business Head Shots

I’ve decided that the white background is my favorite for business head shots. This is mainly because they are so easy to produce consistently, but also because a pure white background is so versatile.

Slightly blown-out highlights on the background, 40-inch umbrella to the right, reflector on the left.To create these, I use a simple two-light setup. First I place a 7-foot umbrella with diffuser behind the subject and, paying close attention to the camera histogram, set the flash so that the light from the umbrella is just slightly blown out. I place a smaller umbrella up and to the right of the subject – as close as possible. (I place it so close that it’s often visible in the shots, but that’s OK, it’s easy to remove it.) I find a willing assistant to hold a white or silver 5-in-1 reflector down and to the left. (A bit lower for the girls.) I shoot handheld, and very fast. Being so close to the subject, the flash units are on very low settings, so they recycle in a fraction of a second. I also use a smaller aperture (f8-f10) on the amazing 56mm Fuji lens. I do not want a shallow depth-of-focus in these shots. I want a clean, easy-to-mask image. If it’s even slightly soft at the back, this is much harder to do.

Post-processing is minimal. Often a simple tweak on the highlight setting in Lightroom turns the background to pure white. After a little cropping I can export an image with a pure white or even transparent background. Perfect!

Our Fastest Sequencer Ever!

A fun project for this special day.

From the e-mail sent to the whole company:

Finished with subtle touches from the impenetrable genius of industrial design guru Jim Pire, the new system’s speed will leave the competition in the dust.

Have I ever told you how much I love my job?

Isleton and Locke

I visited a part of California I never knew existed with the Johnstone Clan. What a great day it was…

Built by the Chinese early in the 20th century, Locke, California is 14 acres of quaintness. The main drag – about three blocks long – is a hodgepodge of rotting and twisty woodwork – an exquisite state of decay. The few remaining inhabitants operate a couple of museums and galleries filled with curiosities. If you ever visit Locke, you can find a decent steak or burger at Al the Wop’s.

On a side note, this was an excellent opportunity to put the new Fuji X100F through its paces. I am amazed at how much of an improvement this version is over its predecessor. If you must, check out a few reviews, and then buy it.

Alex

Next door neighbor Alex also paints. Seems I know a lot of artists. Lucky me!

I think I have this whole Brenizer thing worked out. I purchased a proper VR rig from Really Right Stuff, and now making these is a breeze. I can shoot a whole 49 image series in less than two minutes. Setup is pretty easy. With the lens wide open, I can work with a lot of different types of lighting. And the resulting panorama stitches flawlessly in AutoPano Pro.

A comment I’ve heard a couple times now is, “Wow, this looks like it’s out of a magazine!” That’s what this special focus trick does. Makes it all seem larger than life.

Get a taste of a 5,000 pixel wide version below. The full-resolution render is 4 times larger and sorta mind-boggling.

Two questions remain. Should I try to shoot these in HDR, and who’s next?

Andrew

The first of what I hope will be several shots of my favorite genius in one of his many workspaces.

I didn’t realize when I shot it, but at 70 images, this is the highest resolution image I ever made. It would print beautifully ten feet wide. I’d like to see that.

The featured image above has one of Lightroom’s Split Tone filters applied. I like the look. I’m very tempted to apply some worn edges to the image and beat it up a little.

The full-color image looks like this.

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