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What Is An Editorial Nude?

As I transition more to authoring new books, blogging and participating more on GarageGlamour.com, many photographers have noticed that as part of my “Farewell Photo Workshop Tour,” that we’ve included our editorial nude photography workshops in some locations. This has brought a few emails asking for some clarification.

Simply put, there are various forms (genres) of nude photography, including fine-art nudes (which others fall into also), implied nudes, glamour nude, Playboy nudes, editorial nudes, and just about anything you can add the word “nude” to at the end of it.  You name it, someone is teaching it—the problem lies not in nude photography, but many so-called glamour and nude photography workshops are just gang-bang shooting of cheesecake nude photos—and you wonder why there are some photographers labeled GWC’s, guys with cameras?

Unfortunately nude photography is being diluted daily, so I decided that I’d add editorial nude photography years ago as a different workshop than my “Glamour, Beauty and the Nude” themed workshops—and after conducting almost 500 photography workshops, seminars and lectures around the world in the past 12-years, I think I’ve got a good hand on what is what when it comes to photography.

In the case of editorial nude photography, it’s basically nude images that help convey some meaning, not sex, not porn, but true meaning including sometimes the mood of the subject.  These types of images often tell a story, and sometimes have a great story behind them. It’s about mood, emotion, storytelling, lighting, shadows, and sometimes even controversial, though I tend to avoid the latter.

At my Editorial Nude photography workshops, we work with simple lighting modified normally with 7-inch metal reflectors and metal grids.  The concept is to use shadows in your favor, tell the story, and to get away from marking the treasure map “X” on the floor—in other words, we don’t want you just standing there, we want you moving around the subject so you can see how the “Angle of Incidence Equals the Angle of Reflection” physics law come to play in photography.  We also ask you to turn your camera, not just plain horizontal or vertical images.

These types of images you could sell in art galleries, these are not cheesecake glamour nudes, these photos help you create are artistic but more important, solid and worthy of hanging in art galleries.

Now when we do your “Glamour, Beauty and the Nude” themed workshops, we use larger light modifiers, like 7-foot Chimera Octaboxes, 4-foot by 6-foot softboxes, beauty dishes, ringflash, California Sunbounce Pro reflectors and the list goes on—normally lighting used for editorial nudes is not the type we’d use in glamour photography.  Still not sure, well please visit EditorialNudes.com, my editorial nude photoblog that I just launched—it’s expanding with more images, so please be patient.  For now, since we don’t want to upset Google advertising, we can’t post images here, but you can find them at EditorialNudes.com.  Thanks, Rolando

The Angle of Incidence Equals the Angle of Reflection

Often the Law of Incidence Equals the Law of Reflection is used to fill the "micro pores" of the face using this over/under lighting technique.  In this case, the ringflash fills the pores of the face since the camera is mounted on it.  The main light is slightly higher in power output above the ring flash.

Often the Law of Incidence Equals the Law of Reflection is used to fill the “micro pores” of the face using this over/under lighting technique. In this case, the ringflash fills the pores of the face since the camera is mounted on it.

The main light is slightly higher in power output above the ring flash.  The beauty dish is directly underneath to provide a “kicker” light, or softening of the shadows.  The photographer is shooting through a ring flash between the beauty dish and the main light above.

In physics, the law of reflection states that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. This tenet is fundamental to the understanding of light and can be summarized thusly: if light strikes an object at angle A, it will be reflected in the opposite direction, also at angle A, similar to the way a ball bounces off a brick wall. In photography, the law of reflection is rarely discussed; one typically hears more about the Inverse Square Law or that white reflects and black absorbs. While these are indeed important aspects of light, the angle of incidence and the angle of reflection are two components of physics that, once understood, can help photographers improve their images they create in both artificial and natural light.

The easiest way to comprehend this concept is to go into a place that has hard, shiny floors and overhead lighting (grocery stores work great!). Look down while you walk and you’ll see hot spots of light on the floor move with you as you walk. These hot spots are the direct reflection of the overhead lighting, and they evidence the law of reflection. These equal angles of incidence and reflection can cause hot spots on your subject too. Understanding the law of reflection will help you avoid hot spots on your subjects, whether you are photographing models, cars, food, or landscapes. In fact, managing these equal angles of reflection in your photographs allows you to add or eliminate texture and color in your images.

The white spots or highlights in this image of candles is where the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, thus the hot spots.

The white spots or highlights in this image of candles is where the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, thus the hot spots.

The law of reflection is also responsible for the red-eye effect that plagues ring flash users when shooting through the ring. Because the camera’s lens is at the same angle to the subject as the flash, the reflection of light against blood vessels in the retina at the rear of the eye produces red-eye. An easy way to eliminate red-eye is to brighten the room; this causes the subject’s pupils to contract, thus greatly reducing any reflection. Another method is to take a monolight with a 7-inch 20 degree grid and point it at your subject’s face with only the modeling lamp powered on (not the flash unit itself). Many flash units, including the Broncolor, Hensel, and Profoto brands have separate switches for the modeling lamp and electronic flashtube, allowing them to be powered separately.

The law of reflection is especially troublesome when glass or mirrors are present in the image. The equal angles of incidence and reflection cause hot spots in glass and mirrors when using a flash. The simple solution is to move the flash away from the camera so that the angles are not identical.

In the studio, you can use the monolight red-eye reduction technique described above in a darkened room. This will allow you to show more of your subject’s iris and less of their dark pupils. The technique works well with light-colored eyes, especially green and blue. Don’t be alarmed by the appearance of harsh shadows on one side of the nose, as the power of the artificial flash will knock this out when it fires

The stars created in the crystal flower are because the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

The stars created in the crystal flower are because the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

By moving the camera and light source(s) independently, you can use the law of reflection in your favor, almost like an added layer of makeup to smooth your subject’s skin. As you walk around your subject, you will notice that hot and washed out spots will appear and disappear based on the angle of reflection. You may also notice that your model’s face appears smoother from one angle and rougher from another angle, as the valleys of the pores are filled in with shadows. Through positioning your camera and light sources independently, you can eliminate hot spots and create the appearance of a smoother skin texture.

Because the vast majority of what we see is reflected light (as opposed to incidental light), we as photographers live in an illuminated world. Without light, we would have no images to capture, and humans would see nothing but perpetual blackness. Understanding the law of reflection will allow you to outshine your competitors, as your photographs will take advantage of one of the fundamental laws of the universe and stand out from those created by your peers.  Well that’s it for now, please don’t forget our military troops, their families and friends, as they all sacrifice to keep our nation strong and free–God Bless! Rolando

RAW verses JPG is Not The Problem

Fourth photography book, available for order at Amazon.com. 

 

Fourth photography book, available for order at Amazon.com.

Like most photography forums, the questions always arises, “RAW or JPG?”  Problem is, many participating in the forum threads don’t understand the “RAW” concept itself—but the arguments follow like MAC verses Windows (Notice I didn’t say PC, PC stands for Personal Computer, every home computer is a PC).  If people would first familiarize themselves with what RAW really is, as there is no “single” or “standard” RAW format, (See Wiki def.) then they would understand, RAW has it’s pros and cons.  One of those cons is that there are hundreds of RAW formats, even within camera models made by the same camera company, not all RAW formats are created equal–most use compression, encryption and almost all are proprietary to the camera manufacturer.

I personally shoot what is appropriate for what I’m doing–it all goes back to using the right tool for the right job.  While I’ll shoot the RAW format on my Canon 5D Mark II, most of the time, I shoot JPG, unless the client needs RAW or I feel the image has “evergreen” value.  You only run into problems with JPG’s if you open the original file, make a change, then save it, then open it again, make a change then save it.  That is why workflow is so important.  So if you shoot JPG, it’s always best to open the file and save out as a TIFF original, make your back-ups, then make your working copy as a TIFF too, then you can final out into the format your client prefers. Heck, most people don’t even understand the difference between the “save as JPG” and “save for web JPG” in Adobe Photoshop.

Let’s not forget that the acronym JPEG means Joint Photographic “Experts” Group and it’s a “standard” format that has been around long before RAW. RAW has no standard format, though many have been trying to adopt the DNG (Digital Negative) RAW format, but most camera companies, since they like to sell their own RAW “converter” software ($$$), don’t want to adopt this standard. My advice, do not get caught up in the marketing hype when it comes to RAW.  JPG will be around, just like TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) for a long, long time, though RAW formats change everyday and some RAW formats, may not be supported in the future. I can name at least three camera companies long gone, Minolta, Contax, Bronica and I’m sure others will follow along with their “proprietary” RAW formats.  FYI–a few companies, like Leica, use DNG and DNG is what was started, supported and still pushed by Adobe.  Problem is, camera companies cannot make money off the DNG format anymore than the JPG or TIFF formats.  RAW formats are derivatives of the old workhorse TIFF format.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with private clients at Playboy Studio West this year with their top photographer Arny Freytag (Ken Marcus’s former assistant) and when Arny pulls out “perfect” 8×10 transparencies, not retouched, and shows them to our clients, that says it all.  (Read more here.)  And today, Arny shoots with the Canon 5D Mark II while the 1DS and the HD-39 sits on the shelf along with his wooden 8×10 camera. And for the record he shoots tethered and the files are dropped into Phase One, Capture One software instantly, for minimal post-production–because it’s done right with lighting! (Make-up, styling, posing, the angle of incidence to reflection and a great model help too!)

I recently conducted a glamour photography workshop in Las Vegas (Dec.) and in Los Angeles (Feb.) and Arny was our guest instructor and he demonstrated some great “over and under lighting” to keep the face clean, the eyes bright, but more important, in the LA workshop, we tethered the attendees camera into his assistant’s laptop.  Arny proved to the attendees how to get it right in the camera, RAW vs JPG was not the issue. Getting it right in the camera was the focal point. (Arny will join us at the Phoenix Mansion workshop if you want the experience.)

Bottom line–Get it done right at the shoot, capture it in the right format for your needs (right tool for the right job) with the right white balance, lighting, lens, pose, model, make-up, etc., but more important, it doesn’t matter how you capture it if you can’t capture it correctly the first time.  Don’t use formats, Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, or whatever as your crutch–get it right the first time and “spraying and praying” in RAW or JPG is not the answer. Well that’s it, don’t forget our military men and women, their families and friends–God Bless them all!  Thanks, Rolando

The Aperture is Forgotten

As an instructor of over 400 photography workshops, lectures and seminars for almost eleven years, I’ve witnessed a practically unanimous change from film photography to digital photography as the choice of the image capture medium. Rarely do I see a roll of film or film cameras in the hands of my many attendees.  It’s practically nonexistent and the debate once associated over the fate of film at the hands of digital is dead too.  

© 2009 Rolando Gomez, My Daughter and Son-in-Law

© 2009 Rolando Gomez, My Daughter and Son-in-Law

Photographers have come to accept digital is here to stay, it’s an evolution, not a revolution and in that acceptance, most photographers lost focus of how equipment has evolved with this now common medium of capture.  As an example, a new photographer will never know that an aperture ring with numbered aperture values (F/stops) once existed on lenses.  Most of the more veteran photographers haven’t noticed the ring is missing and if they have, they just take it for granted as they’ve become accustomed to all the values and settings along with “chimping” and viewing the histograms on their LCD displays and the LCD panels on the camera tops for verification of those settings.

The irony of all the displays, from the rear LCD screen to the top of the camera screen and even the screen in the viewfinder is that the effect it’s had on photographers parallels how society tends to lose its customs, values and traditions as new family generations adapt to their surroundings—similar to a sociological pattern change, humans adapt.

This adaptation has caused photographers to forget the meaning of that aperture ring and why the ring had values like 1.4, 2.8, 5.6 and even 8 and eleven.  That ring, and the actual numerical values are all based on the Inverse Square Law.

Now it’s not uncommon if you ask any photographer, even top professionals, on the spot, to explain the Inverse Square Law that they will stop to think and most of the time tap dance their way out of the conversation though they truly understand and practice that physics law we apply to photography.  I myself stumble when unexpectedly asked to cite the Inverse Square Law verbatim, but I have a method that always bails me out—the aperture ring on my lens.  The problem is all my new lenses have no aperture rings except the lenses for my Leica M-8 digital rangefinder.

Regardless whether you own a Leica lens or a lens with an aperture ring, the concept is simple, aperture values are based on the Inverse Square Law and that is why a lens has a few numbers with decimal point values like 1.8, 2.8, and 5.6 and not 2, 3, 5 as whole number values.

In the old film days, we’d look at our lenses and always understand that the difference between F/2.8 and F/4 is one stop of more light (50-percent brighter) in one direction and 50-percent less light in another direction (darker).   While those aperture values helped us understand light passing through a lenses and striking the film plane, we also understood that the higher the aperture value the more depth-of-field we’d gain in our images and smaller the aperture value, the less depth-of-field we’d gain from the focus point.

Yet there was another purpose of that aperture value ring on our lenses, it could actually help you calculate the effects of the Inverse Square Law simply by looking at the dial and understanding the correlation of those numbers with the subject to light distance or the light to background distance.  As an example, if I had my model four feet from the main light source illuminating her for my photograph and decided she was one stop too dark in the exposure, I’d merely move the light in so that the distance between my model and the light source was two-feet, eight inches (think F/2.8).  If the condition was in reverse where my model was too bright by one aperture value at four feet, I’d simply move my subject from the light source so the distance would equal five-feet, six-inches (think F/5.6).  This in fact is the Inverse Square Law.  In fact if my subject was two full aperture values too bright, I’d ensure the distance between my subject would change from the original value of four-feet to eight-feet (F/8.0).

The same holds true for controlling our backgrounds, if we have our model four-feet from the main light source and the model is four-feet from the background, and expose correctly for the model, the background is then receiving two stops or aperture values less of light to illuminate it as it’s eight feet from the light source in total distance.  If I decided I wanted to brighten the background one F/stop, I’d simply keep the same distance from the main light source to my subject, four-feet in this case, but ensure that the background is now five-feet, six-inches from my main light source and of course if I wanted the background another F/stop darker from the original eight-foot distance, I’d make sure my background was eleven-feet from my main light source.

Now that aperture rings are almost gone from lenses, we see on our digital camera LCD screens aperture values like 5, 6.3, 7.1, 9, 10, etc. and unfortunately the correlation of those numerical values and the Inverse Square Law seems forgotten.