It was a gorgeous sunny Sunday morning. Not a cloud in the sky or a hint of Bay Area morning fog. Sounds fabulous right? Well it's fabulous if you're grabbing your sweetheart and heading over to Capitola for a day of play. For a photographer who has a portrait session scheduled this is not the ideal weather forecast for a mid-day shoot. This was however the best, worst case scenario for our 6 eager Aperture Academy students. They arrived bright and early on this Sunday morning to take our Perfect Portraits and Processing class, at our Aperture Academy Gallery, located in the Pruneyard shopping center, in Campbell, CA.
Ajay and I met the students in our computer classroom and we spent a little time getting to know one another, before I went over some review on the exposure triangle and compositional foundations, as well. Our beautiful model, Sonja, arrived just in time, as I was just wrapping up my presentation. We took Sonja just outside the Gallery doors, and placed her amongst a lovely large Hibiscus tree. The tree or large shrub is loaded with really pretty purple flowers. The curve ball we throw right off the bat is that this area is highly backlit. Backlighting almost always requires exposure compensation, depending on your metering mode. There was also a compositional challenge of background clutter. There were a few points of view that could be captured without the inclusion of background distractions.
Next up was another challenging location. Across the parking lot and in between The Sports Basement and Paxti's, is a cool Grey textured wall. It was late in the morning and the harsh sun was blasting the wall. My first inclination was to move on and go to a different spot, with better light. Then I changed my mind. Let's work this difficult light and make it work. Ajay held up a 5-in-one reflector, utilizing the diffusor aspect. Light still passes through, but now it's much softer and workable. We encouraged the students to work many different angles and points of view. Working from one side of the model, around the other. Meanwhile noticing what the different angles do to the light on Sonja's face. Learning which angle is best and why, is a valuable tool.
Our next spot we referred to as "the Beach". The beach has light, bright sand, and bright sunlight. In this case our beach was the top of the parking garage. Light colored cement and a wide-open space with no shade, and lot's of overpowering bright light. Ajay put Sonja's in the middle of the lot and had her spin around in the breeze, with her lightly flowing top. She looked gorgeous, with windblown hair and her floral top flying in the wind. Again we made sure the students worked all angles, while shooting mostly into the sun, so the light on Sonja's face would not be harsh, yet it would be soft and even. We continued to work some different posses and areas on top of the parking garage. We had a fun Fashion Magazine mojo going, with our lovely model. The morning really seemed to fly by, and it was now time for the students to take a short break to grab some lunch, while Ajay and I uploaded their memory cards into Lightroom, and our iMac workstations.
After our quick lunch break, everyone was eager to learn how to process his or her stunning images. First I had them narrow the collection down to their top 10 favorites. I ran through my process for editing portraits in Adobe Lightrooom. Starting from the top in the basic develop module and running through my workflow, including the HSL channels. Lastly I went over the adjustment brush and how easy it is to whiten teeth, brighten eyes, and even soften skin. In just a short period of time, it's really exciting to see the before and after portrait image.
The students really caught on and processed some fantastic looking images. Ajay and I really enjoying our time with the budding photographers, as we wished them well, and bid them adieu.
Until next time,
Ellie, Ajay and the rest of the Aperture Academy team!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.