The Black Widow (B&W Portrait)

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Michael A. Sewell
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This portrait was always going to be black and white. Hard hitting, and pretty much influenced by “Sin City” and the like.

Rebecca has quite arresting eyes and pronounced cheek bones. Features I really wanted to emphasise. I also wanted to ensure her dark hair didn't disappear into the background either.

Rebecca has a good complexion which would allow me to use quite a contrasty light setup. I placed a 300Ws head frame left slightly above head height, angled down towards Rebecca. This was mated to a gridded white beauty dish. This created the texture in her hair and provided the highlight along her cheek frame left, nicely separating her skin from her hair. It also add a touch of light around the edge of her lips and the corner of her mouth, giving it shape. You will also notice the gentle accenting on her fingers. It fired at ¼ output.

A second accent light was placed frame right. Another 300Ws head firing through a white beauty dish with a grid fitted. Again it was at a height little higher than Rebecca's head and angled downward. You can clearly see the texture of her hair and shoulder as the light skims across it. The output was again at ¼.

If you look closely, you will notice a very subtle shift in the background around Rebecca. It was a black background, but I wanted to provide just enough difference in saturation around her to ensure her hair wasn't lost to the black background. Rather than simply put a gridded standard reflector onto the background, which would still be fairly bright on its lowest setting,; I chose to use a red gel'd light with barn doors fitted. Yes, one of those ten a penny jobs we see day in and day out on ebay. One of them.

Anyway, the idea of using the red gel is that a black and white conversion would cause the lit area to be less contrasty with the black background. This was a 200Ws head at 1/16th output

The key light is a 600Ws head firing through a 70cm white beauty dish with a grid fitted. It was pretty much alongside me and as high as the stand would go. You can see the reflection in Rebecca's eyes. It was set to be straight on to her face, as she is ever so slightly turned away from me. This ensured her cheek bones, nose and lips would cast the shadow I wanted, to enhance the shape of her face. Output was set to 1/8th

And that's pretty much it.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 mkII 1/125th sec ISO200 12-40mm f2.8 @f11
 

m4/3boy

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Jul 21, 2013
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I infer that you like and use gridded beauty dishes because of the control of light spill while maintaining a broad source of light. What size dishes do you use? I use Elinchrom equipment and use the Elinchrom beauty dishes but I've also adapted a Speedotron BD to save $$$. Unfortunately I don't have grids for any of them.

Thanks,

Don Bryant

PS: For some reason I thought you were located in Australia instead of the UK. :)
 
Joined
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Bootle, Cumbria, UK
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Michael A. Sewell
I infer that you like and use gridded beauty dishes because of the control of light spill while maintaining a broad source of light. What size dishes do you use? I use Elinchrom equipment and use the Elinchrom beauty dishes but I've also adapted a Speedotron BD to save $$$. Unfortunately I don't have grids for any of them.
To be honest, I tend to use honeycombed stripboxes mostly, due to a greater coverage of light in a narrow strip, as opposed to a smaller circular area afforded by beauty dishes. But you are right, it's all down to the amount of control I prefer to have, and how I want to place the light.
Keep your eyes open on ebay for compatible sized grids. I use the 18cm ELB400 standard reflectors, but I bought a set of grids covering a good range of control for less than half the price of the Elinchrom ones. I am intending to buy the EL ones though, but had my set for a good few years for use with 7" bowens reflectors, and they just so happen to fit the EL stuff.

PS: For some reason I thought you were located in Australia instead of the UK. :)
That'll be down to my accent, I suppose.
 
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oldracer

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Toy gun, I think. Removing the mold parting lines on the trigger guard and the dust cover would help. Fussy, fussy, I know.
 

ionian

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I don't know how I missed this the first time around but I love this shot - and what a perfect model for a beauty dish with that skin and those cheekbones.
 

Carbonman

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The only change I would make with this shot has nothing to do with your excellent work; I would remove the broad eyebrow shadow that seems to be in vogue right now. It's a little distracting in this image. Gorgeous woman, though.
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2015
Messages
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Location
Bootle, Cumbria, UK
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Michael A. Sewell
The only change I would make with this shot has nothing to do with your excellent work; I would remove the broad eyebrow shadow that seems to be in vogue right now. It's a little distracting in this image. Gorgeous woman, though.
I'm not gonna lie. I dislike this current trend in makeup. I find it looks strange under well lit conditions.
Unfortunately, it's the current trend, and a lot of the Pro MUAs seem to be following the hoard too.
The daft thing is, she has really nicely shaped and defined eyebrows anyway.

If the shoot is for the model or MUA, such as this one, I won't comment on makeup, props or any other creative input. It's not my show.
If it's a client shoot, that's a whole different ball game.
 

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