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Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to: Real Estate Agent Photography Red Deer

Canon 5D Mk II @ 200mm zoom, F2.8, ISO 200, 1/200th sec
 I worked with Bridget, a real estate agent, starting a new career with Century 21 in Red Deer.  Bridget needed some "headshots" for business cards, newspaper advertising, and online use.  Before we met I had no idea that she needed a white background for newspaper print and a black background for display online.  Luckily I have a white cyclic seamless backdrop in my home but had to get creative for the black.  Did I have a black backdrop? No.  Will I get one soon? Probably, because it makes things a little easier.  Black soaks up light and avoids reflecting into the ambient room.

Here is what I did,.....
.....and you can to if you find yourself in a jam without a black backdrop.  First off, if you are using artificial lighting  you will have to know your limits for syncing the flash with your camera. Usually it is a max of 1/250th sec.  My camera, a downfall to the 5D, only syncs at 1/200th.  Set your shutter speed here and drop your ISO down in the lower range 100 -200? depending.  I also knew I wanted to shoot with a shallow depth of field so I set my camera to F 2.8 and took a shot without any lighting.  What came back was a pure black underexposed frame.  Perfect!  That is your black backdrop ;)  Now with a little tinkering, you can turn on your lights and slowly increase them to light your subject independently of the ambient room.  Be careful not to place your subject with anything behind them or else the light will find it and your black backdrop will be gone.  This can be difficult but can be mastered with a little practice.  We settled for a faint pattern behind Bridget since we thought it made her "pop" in the picture and give her some separation instead of the appearance of floating in space ;)  Finally edit with some heavy blacks and vignette and your on your way to creating your own false background.

same settings were used as the first photograph.  Canon 580 Ex strobes where used camera left and right with umbrella's to soften the light.

In this photo, we shot Bridget in front of a white seamless but settled for a slight grey since this picture was headed for newsprint which will never display a true white anyways.  This made the photo a lot easier since we adjusted our exposure for Bridget only and had her stand right in front of the cyc.  Normally to obtain a pure white, she would have to stand far in front and be lit independently of the backdrop.  You would then hit the backdrop with strong lights to "Nuke" it completely white :)


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