Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Series: Karate Girl

As the number of photos featuring model #1 in her gi grows, we've hit the point where it made sense to group them in a lightbox, with a link to the lightbox in each image's description. I described how I built these links in an earlier post, and others have described similar procedures as well. (Search the iStockphoto forums or google for more help.)

These images are selling slowly, but I consider the set a personal project, with the following benefits:

1) I am learning a lot, trying to light a fair-skinned blonde girl in a white suit against a white background. Right out of the camera, some images are slightly too dark for my taste. In such images, the gi separates clearly from the background but the skin tones are too dark. And underexposed skin can be brought back up in post, but it looks noisy and wrong. In other images, the skin looks great and the face is crisp and sharp, but the right-side edge of the uniform fades right in to the background. Eventually, I'll get skin tones and razor-sharp facial features, while still separating the white gi from the background, all the way around. I can't put a light right on her face, she'll move out of it as she jumps around kicking and punching... Maybe I can partially block off a second light, so that it's neck-level and above...

2) I've learned my lesson about isolating the subject completely. Every time I cut her out, feet and all, I get rejections. If I leave the white floor slightly less than pure white, and leave some shadow, I have far better luck with the inspectors. 

3) I continue to refine my lighting setup. Currently it is: White seamless paper background, lit by 2 AB-400's metered to f:15. Large parabolic Paul Buff umbrella/lightbox on an AB-400 camera right, feathered across the front of the subject, metered to f:8. Reflector camera left for fill. The floor is painted white epoxy, with some grit to make it less slippery that also textures it just a bit. Minimal post processing is required, unless she moves way off her mark. Occasionaly, she'll be way out of position, but give me such a great look that I'll spend whatever time I need to cleaning up the image in post. Maybe I shouldn't fall too much in love with an image that's way off in-camera, but sometimes I just can't help myself. I tell myself I'm learning better editing skills in the hours of cutting-out, clone stamping, and level and color adjusting.

4) As my model earns each new belt, we shoot a new session or two. She learns Karate, I learn to shoot and process images, and mom gets lots of great pictures of her kid. Win/Win/Win. Oh and we get paid (a little).

Friday, June 4, 2010

iStockphoto 200th Download

Karate Girl Kicks

I hit 200 downloads at iStockphoto this morning, moving a bit closer to eligibility for their exclusive contributor program. I'm thinking of opting in, for the following reasons:

  1. Relatively easy uploading and release management with DeepMeta.
  2. The appeal of only having to manage one image collection.
  3. More than half of my earnings come from iStockphoto already.
  4. More allowed uploads per week.
  5. Increased royalties as cannister level increases.
  6. Faster inspections.
I still have 50 more downloads before I'd be eligible, but I'm currently leaning towards exclusivity.