Indyshoooter’s Photo of the Year

This year has been an exciting year for me. I’ve had enough photography and video projects to keep my creativity revved up and with a good helping of encouragement and advice from some new online friends like Light Stalking and Prairie Light Images, I launched Indy Shooter with the theme of making Photoshop more approachable for photographers. There is certainly still work to be done, but I’m very grateful and beyond excited to see what the New Year brings!!

My personal photographic addiction is in the realm of fashion and portraiture. That doesn’t stop from shooting anything interesting I come across, but I’ve had the great honor of working with a wonderful Indianapolis-based Fashion magazine, Fashion Wrap Up. Their editorials are gorgeous themed spreads covering some great trends and they offer lots of entertainment and fashion news as well. I’ve had a number of fantastic photoshoots with FWU but took a break for most of this year to attend some classes and work on some other projects (video work for the fantastic Naptown Roller Girls among them!!). Then earlier this month FWU and I  got back together to do a Holiday themed shoot and the results of that effort are some of my favorite images to date.

That said, I am both proud and humbled to announce my personal Photo of the Year:

IndyShooter Photo of the Year (© Fashion Wrap Up)

Many thanks to everyone involved, but especially Christy Pastore – editor of Fashion Wrap Up, Melissa Ingersoll – Allure Salon, our model – Amanda Katherine and our location for the shoot – Cambria Suites in Noblesville, IN.

Putting together each of the looks was a huge undertaking by Melissa and her team from Allure and I would be remiss if I did not say that they did an absolutely amazing and professional job. As a photographer I cannot overstate how valuable good stylists and make-up artists are. Without their hard work none of these shots would be possible. Amanda and all out models for the day were total troopers putting up with all the fussing and posing and running from dressing room to set.

Details of this photo:

I’m fairly certain it was Christy who first had the thought to shoot this pose – looking out of the elevator as though she is searching for her significant other, but once that idea was struck it was a definite “Yes!!” moment. While Amanda was finishing with make-up I set up my lighting in the small hallway that served as the elevator landing. My main light is a 21-inch beauty dish/strobe combination set up just a few feet to camera left. There were two small speedlight flashes gelled to match the color temp of the main strobe. One of these was further down the hall to the left and another was inside the elevator with a small 4-inch dish reflector and grid to give Amanda’s hair and dress a nice back rim-light. These were all triggered with a Pocket Wizard Flex-TT5 system for Canon. I shoot primarily with a Canon 7D and 24-105 F4L lens.

Just rattling it off like that sounds so easy, but this location was quite a struggle for me to figure out how to light it. That’s one thing I love so much about portrait shooting on location – there’s always a new challenge!!  It took me a good half hour of jockeying lights and angles to decide what worked.

One entertaining tidbit…once we had everything set and were shooting, the elevator alarm started going off because of Amanda holding the doors open (she got a good workout from that too, by the way!). So there was extra pressure to work quickly since we didn’t want the hotel management to kick us out after our first set!

Post processing:

This image was a joy to work on because it just kept getting better and better. I tried a couple different approaches to editing the whole series, but here are the steps I went through to finish out this image:

  1. I used Lightroom to do initial exposure adjustments, boosting contrast and noise reduction, cropping and rotation and spot fixing a few spots and fingerprints on the metal surrounding the elevator.
  2. Once the image was imported to Photoshop, I ran a high-pass filter to smooth out the skin tones (see my post for a description of this technique).
  3. After that I used Topaz Adjust on the Strong Details setting to really make the dress and textures pop. Topaz is one of the few external plug-ins that I use.
  4. The result of that process was faded a bit to blend back into the original image
  5. A very slight darkening vignette was aplied around the edges of the image
  6. Finally I used the dodge and burn tools to selectively enhance shadows and highlights such as folds in the dress and details in her hair. A very small brush was used to burn the details around her eyes. 

Look for a future post describing more of these techniques in greater detail. 

See the entire editorial at Fashion Wrap Up. (All images are Copyright Vivid Oranje Consulting, LLC and Fashion Wrap Up magazine). For a behind the scene’s look at this shoot visit AK’s World, a blog written by another of our fantastic models, Adrian Kendrick. 

Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Holiday Season and I’m looking forward to an exciting New Year!!!

Peace and Joy,

-David Van Deman

2 thoughts on “Indyshoooter’s Photo of the Year

  1. Wonderful work, David. It is really great to read about the details of such a successful shoot. Thanks also for the mention. I have enjoyed becoming your friend over the past few months. Looking forward to a fantastic 2012 (despite that whole pesky Mayan calendar thing…) Merry Christmas.

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