Friday, 20 September 2013

Colours into tones 2

1. Original colour version
Well, I chose to use the 'lightening of human skin in a portrait - without affecting the rest of the image' option for the second exercise concerning converting colour into tone and I'm very glad I did. Not only did I further enhance my insight into how much more malleable black-and-white was than colour in terms of alterations made, I also managed to take a photograph that inspired me with confidence for what I had planned for the upcoming assignment and I felt it coincidentally led very well into that assignment.

   My main discovery was window lighting. Here I found it to work extremely well, with a strong and yet subtle quality, which highlighted parts of the face and left other parts in shadow. The end result looked a lot like I had used some sort of flash lighting to give form to the model's face but it was purely natural.

2. Grayscale version with the skin not lightened
   The reason I came across this type of lighting was through looking at Vermeer's paintings. Most of them used window lighting and I felt using one of Vermeer's most famous portraits - 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' (c. 1665-1667), as an inspiration for this exercise would be ideal for two reasons. Firstly, it was a quite simple shot to reconstruct, which meant I could concentrate on the task of lightening the skin, without affecting the rest of the image. This meant using differing colours from my models' clothes that contrasted with her skin, so blue, green or purple would be fine.

   Secondly, I thought it would set me up for the upcoming assignment because I intended to be heavily influenced by Vermeer in the assignment by reconstructing some of his paintings so this would prepare me well in terms of lighting used and clothing worn for my own photographs.

   My workflow in terms of post processing was basically to make my subject the clear focal point in the final photograph. This conveniently consisted of lightening my subject's skin, which was the whole point of the exercise but in this case it helped to make her stand out from the dark background. In fact I decided to use the adjustment brush in Adobe Lightroom to burn the shadows even more until they became solid black. This helped to keep the image minimal and focus the viewer's attention.

3. Final 'skin-lightened' version
   One area I tried to highlight was for me a certain important part in Vermeer's original work: 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' - namely the earring itself. I added a radial filter with an inverted mask in Adobe Lightroom inside the earring and raised the exposure slightly so only the earring was lightened. I only increased the exposure a small amount so the effect was subtle and didn't look fake.

   Overall I was very pleased with the final, processed photograph because I thought it was a faithful recreation of probably Vermeer's most famous painting, with the way the light fell on the subject's face  closely mirroring that of Vermeer's.

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