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Friday Theme-Actor Headshot Portrait

Friday Theme-Actor Headshot Portrait
Photo Information
Copyright: Larry A Brechner (brech) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 539 W: 135 N: 1111] (3045)
Genre: People
Medium: Black & White
Date Taken: 2011-01-10
Categories: HPP [Heavily Post-Processed], Portrait
Camera: Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS
Exposure: f/11, 1/60 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Friday Theme 2012/02/17 'Portraits' [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2012-02-17 9:51
Viewed: 1839
Points: 28
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
My contribution to the Friday Portrait theme is a headshot of one of our young actors, Megan. Anyone who has seen my TL postings has no doubt seen her in various Theater Publicity images and a special portrait of her used as a 20 x 30” (50 x 76cm) portrait on stage during our last production. Megan will appear in her final role this spring as the female lead, Rosemary in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying before heading off to college. Megan really lights up on stage and is very confident, easy to direct, with a beautiful singing voice – plus she is very photogenic.

My style for these shots is a bit closer to the Chicago style with a bust shot and relaxed expression. These final images will be printed on 8 ½ x 11” stock as an 8 x 10 image with the actor’s name below the image for use as a lobby display. This headshot is cropped to an 8x10 format. Especially for young actors I use a fairly uniform lighting ratio of no more than 1:2 for a headshot. As I have written before Black & White dominated theatrical headshots and largely are being replaced by color, but B&W still are used in programs, lobby displays, and for a more artistic effect.

The lighting set-up I have described before in previous TL posts. Lighting is fairly soft using approximately a 1:2 ratio Key to Fill with all flashes using soft modifiers.
I used four monolights:
160ws reflected in a 60” Umbrella reflector from the right as a Key light
160ws through a 24x24” softbox at 1/2 power as a front fill
160ws through an 86” white umbrella at 1/4 power as a left side fill
100ws through a 12x12” softbox above and to the right as a hair/backlight

The original image was shot in RAW and PP in PS5 RAW with slight basic adjustments to clarity, color balance, exposure, etc. Like most PS purists, I like to carefully make my own painstaking corrections to remove skin issues like removing blemishes, correcting tones, and all the other properties that go into creating a final image (still called “airbrushing” by some in the media).

I am experimenting with a new PS plug-in, Portrait Professional, that shortcuts the touch up work on portraits. This type of PP can consume a great deal of time so I was skeptical of a product that shortcuts this process. However, when I must produce images on a short time schedule, I am discovering that this new plug-in produces an edited image with most of the corrections I would make within PS. Nevertheless, I still make some final adjustments back in PS as another layer but this plug-in considerably short cuts my workflow time from maybe 45min to 1 hour, down to 5-10 min per face. I modified this shot a bit from our “standard lobby display” headshot format in PP using PS5’s Black & White conversion, darkening the BG to bring out Megan’s face.

In workshops I am placing a tighter crop of this portrait that is generally associated with the New York style theater headshot, and a color version of the original.

sela, chrisJ, yanm, KurtPop, andrzej, Saba, mamcg, CAROL50, gaillarde, jan515, what has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • sela Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 633 W: 11 N: 1379] (8213)
  • [2012-02-17 10:19]

HI Larry, my TL neighbour:-)))I think, this is a very good portrait.Black and white is very well chosen, though I love it in colour, too.Very good light management.Very good result of your PP work.
Regards Rose

Dear Larry,

This is a well executed shot from a beautiful artist!
She has lovely eyes and a friendly and cheerful face make this work even more stronger.
A B/W treatment to the picture worked well here.

A well thought contribution to today's theme.

Have a nice WE!

Kind regards,

  • Great 
  • fransx Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2938 W: 134 N: 7397] (41704)
  • [2012-02-17 12:43]

HI Larry,
A beautiful actress/model. A very sharp portrait converted to B&W. Perfect details and a stunning contrast while the gray tones are excellent. Light is just marvelous and beautiful highlights in here hair.
A gorgeous smile. These ingredients produce an excellent portrait!
My best regards,

Francis Xavier

  • Great 
  • chrisJ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4430 W: 637 N: 9632] (55124)
  • [2012-02-17 13:31]

Hi Larry

Thx for finding a few spare minutes to upload + note, & join in the Friday theme of portraits. A superb b&w portrait too, with good sharpness, light contrasts & tonal range. The slight tilt of her heads adds dynamism. I like the punchy high contrast. Tfs!

wow such a pro looking shot, wonderful sharpness and composition and light too, very pretty model tyo work with,

She is beautiful and you did a wonderful job! Great lighting and good details. Very well done, tfs.

Hi Larry..nice light and fine details in this portrait. Well done.


  • CMJC Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 154 W: 193 N: 124] (1191)
  • [2012-02-18 0:44]

merci Larry pour ce portrait très soigné;
pas de doute pour avoir un tel résultat il faut de la préparation, du travail, de l'application...
la gestion de l'éclairage semble être la principale porte de la réussite (en plus du sujet souriant évidement ☺!)

  • Great 
  • yanm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 818 W: 84 N: 1189] (10601)
  • [2012-02-18 2:21]

I don't really understand about models, or lighting set up, but glad to read the description. For me, i think i like the crop version better.

Pretty girl, good smile and confident eye contact ... but for me personally the burned out patch at the top of her head detracts. Looking at the colour version there is detail there, so this must have happened in the bw conversion, and would be dead easy to fix in photoshop using paint brush and layers. I think I would have moved the left side fill light round a bit more, and turned it down a little, to avoid the 3rd catchlight and also to tidy up some of the shadows around her nose. Try looking up "Butterfly Lighting" on Google. Just an idea...

Ciao Larry, great portrait of lovely girl with fantastic eyes and splendid smile, wonderful light and excellent clarity, very well done my friend, have a good Sunday, ciao Silvio

Hi Larry
Great portrait of this beautiful actress,perfect lighting ,good contrast and sharpness.

  • Great 
  • Saba Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1474 W: 0 N: 4177] (21534)
  • [2012-02-20 7:32]

Hello Larry :)

The woman pretty face nicely by You showed, I
like the realization in black and white.
Fantastic composition and excellent realization!

Best wishes.

I know this lady from previous photos Larry , Chicago style and photogenic make this one an exceptional portrait my friend , nothing to find fault with this photograph , it is great in b&w , the color version is just as good ,love her bright smile and she is as confident in front of the lens as in the other images of her .
This plug-in was meant for you , time consumption alone in your case begged to be addressed if only to accelerate processing your photos efficiently and swiftly so you can deliver in less time , you did well in getting the program and it seems to work superbly .
Excellent description of your workflow in the note , you are the best in that department Larry , keep it up and tfs ,
My best regards,

Beautiful portrait. The B&W is very clear and attractive. Your dof really helps her to stand out and gives a nice 3d effect. Excellent work

  • Great 
  • jan515 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2792 W: 58 N: 4702] (20934)
  • [2012-03-25 13:53]

hello Larry,
A very sharp portrait converted to B&W. Perfect details.Very good light and clarity Excellent quality of photography. Compliment.
Best regards.

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