Forums > Digital Art and Retouching > Agent Provocateur Lighting Technique - How?

Retoucher

Freetoucher

Posts: 9

Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Hey everybody!

First of all let me say that I was really surprised by the level of professionalism I noticed in this forum. I've been an avid reader of many posts over here and I really learned a lot. Above all I am very impressed by the way you people communicate over here - very sharp, very humble, very helpful. So this is my first topic and I hope I am gonna meet these standards by posting a question that helps me and in addition to that people who would like to widen their spectrum of skills.

This is what I am talking about, I am sure some of you have noticed the AP's Spring/Summer 2012 campaign called Daena featuring a "David Hamilton"-like soft focus dreamy look (slightly NSFW):

http://www.agentprovocateur.com/spring-summer-2012.html

I imediately wondered how one could achieve this look and started researching. I stumbled upon a thread on model mayhem explaining that you could achieve the soft focus look by pulling a sheer stocking over your lens while taking pictures. I tried that and it worked. Nonetheless I'd rather work non-destructively and try to achieve this look in post.

Now one particular thing I noticed is that as soon there is a light source in the picture the whites start to "bloom", as if there is a layer mode applied. Watch out for the images "shop mercy", "shop daena", "shop sprinkle", "shop baby and janey" specifically in the overview from the link above.

Apart from that I'd really like to get a clue on how to get this rouge tinted look. The colors are very homogenic in each of these pictures. Do you think there is some sort of curves adjustment applied and if so, how exactly?

I am really looking forward to analyzing this style together with you, since actually this is a major reason why I signed up here.

Best regards!

Dec 28 12 04:01 am Link

Photographer

Photography by Sean

Posts: 145

Atlanta, Georgia, US

That look has more to do with post processing.

Dec 28 12 04:41 am Link

Retoucher

BorderlineBunny

Posts: 2201

Tulsa, Oklahoma, US

Decrease the Offset in Exposure, add a gradient adjustment layer set to Overlay and decrease opacity to taste.

That would be my first guess.

Dec 28 12 05:00 am Link

Photographer

Ex Voto Studio

Posts: 4983

Columbia, Maryland, US

Sean Alexandre wrote:
That look has more to do with post processing.

In the 80's that would have all been done in camera with Cokin or Tiffen filters..... man I am old.

Dec 28 12 05:03 am Link

Photographer

Daniel Norton

Posts: 1745

New York, New York, US

I am 90% sure the blur itself is done in post as working "non- distructively" is pretty standard practice in commercial work.  That being said, in order to get the right feel you need to light the shot in a way that the blur will be most successful. In almost all the shots, you have a large soft light source IN THE FRAME.. That's the source of the blooming, adding a specific blur to the over exposed area creates that wrapping feel. Basically exposing for the "shadow side" of the model and letting the bright source flair, then adding a blur layer etc. I'm far from a photoshop guru so I'm not going to even guess how to do that part of it. If you wanted to nail it in the camera, various degrees of white net diffusion is what I'd use. Though Hamilton would actually breath on the lens to fog it, then wait for the perfect effect (as the fog cleared) and snap the shutter.

-Daniel

Dec 28 12 05:06 am Link

Retoucher

Krunoslav Stifter

Posts: 3883

Santa Cruz, California, US

It's refreshing to see someone actually did the research before poping up with the infamous "How Do I Get This Look" thread. smile

I would say that it depends a lot on your source image, on your starting point. If you have the proper lighting, location and models and styling you should have little trouble adjusting the color and even the defused look if you like.

If you don't have an appropriate starting point you can adjust the image to match in color and tone but the overall product will look off, and that is why certain style of color and tone treatment works with one image but not the other. It's very important in my opinion.

BTW. Examples that you gave are not all exactly the same either, they differ slightly and that is do to the factors I listed above and less do to the post.

Dec 28 12 05:30 am Link

Photographer

Hugh Alison

Posts: 2121

Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

I believe he's still shooting - certainly was a few years ago.

Dec 28 12 06:36 am Link

Photographer

pellepiano

Posts: 2282

Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

I believe the simplest way is to make a copy of the original layer, blur it and set blend mode to screen and adjust opacity. And maybe add a layer mask with a gradient so the effect is more pronounced where the windows are.
I used two separate "light" layer on this one. One for general softness and and aone for the window.
http://www.lutzimages.com/thread_images/mm_snobben_versaille_.jpg

Dec 28 12 07:00 am Link

Photographer

AJ_In_Atlanta

Posts: 12837

Atlanta, Georgia, US

Ex Voto  Studio wrote:

In the 80's that would have all been done in camera with Cokin or Tiffen filters..... man I am old.

Even before the aftermarket filters it was a stocking, at least according to Ken M the man who invented it. A regular here and a great source of information to us all.

Dec 28 12 07:05 am Link

Photographer

Avalos Photography

Posts: 1002

Woodland, California, US

This is a question of tools, use the right tool for the job.

As a photographer and decent retoucher.  I will say hire a photographer for the effect before looking to retouch.  you have photographic techniques with light being used that is probably cheaper to shoot than retouch.  Soft box in the rear, hard light or beauty dishes up front. f11 to f4 probably. the filter is also a technique similar to something you mentioned.  This makes post production much easier.

Dec 28 12 07:47 am Link

Retoucher

Peano

Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

Just as a side item, I noticed that there's a lot of combing in the histograms of all of these images. Not sure why that is. I don't think it's a result of the glow effect, nor of the cross-processing.

http://img824.imageshack.us/img824/6527/histok.jpg

Dec 28 12 08:01 am Link

Retoucher

Krunoslav Stifter

Posts: 3883

Santa Cruz, California, US

Peano wrote:
Just as a side item, I noticed that there's a lot of combing in the histograms of all of these images. Not sure why that is. I don't think it's a result of the glow effect, nor of the cross-processing.

Aren't they GIF's?

Dec 28 12 08:11 am Link

Photographer

Dan K Photography

Posts: 5466

STATEN ISLAND, New York, US

pellepiano wrote:
I believe the simplest way is to make a copy of the original layer, blur it and set blend mode to screen and adjust opacity. And maybe add a layer mask with a gradient so the effect is more pronounced where the windows are.
I used two separate "light" layer on this one. One for general softness and and aone for the window.

I have been meaning to do something like this. Thanks Pellepiano.

Dec 28 12 08:38 am Link

Retoucher

Peano

Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

Krunoslav-Stifter wrote:
Aren't they GIF's?

Yikes, yes!! How on earth did I miss that?

I copied from the web and pasted into PS. It never occurred to me that they would use gifs in an online catalog. Everything else on the site appears to be jpegs.

Thanks!

Dec 28 12 09:13 am Link

Photographer

Hugh Alison

Posts: 2121

Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

"I was just reading an interview with him in an old (1993) issue of "Amateur Photographer" (UK photo magazine). Hamilton claimed he never used any filters, shot everything by diffused (indoor) natural light (never using any reflectors or artifical fill) and used only Ektachrome 200 film."

http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=000JCe


He used a Minolta with the 58mm f1.2 lens - the lenses still fetch between $500 and $1,000 in good condition for adaption to DSLRs for movie making. Characteristic lens flare and Bokeh.

Dec 28 12 09:29 am Link

Retoucher

Freetoucher

Posts: 9

Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

wow! so many replies and guesses over the course of a day - thanks a lot so far! i've just been reading your approaches and there are some helpful tips among them.

@BorderlineBunny: what exactly do you mean by "decreasing the offset in exposure"?

@Daniel Norton: sure! it looks like I really need to shoot with available light and a lightbouncer/reflector from the opposite direction. there IS a light source in each of the mentioned shots and it doesnt look like there is a lot of flash/strobist work going on. nice tip with breathing on the lens, by the way. never heard of that. will try to avoid creating the effect in camera, anyway.

@Krunoslav-Stifter: thanks! :-) thought so, too: it seems mandatory to use furniture, garment, curtains and stuff like that ranging in the same colour family in order to get that monochrome look.

@pellepiano: thank you very much for even trying to recreate that effect with a given shot. it really helps to see a before and after. obviously a blurred duplicate plus some brush work seems to work quite accurately! can you tell me about how you got that rouge tint in your shot?

@avalos photography: thanks for your thoughts from the photographers POV. maybe I should make clear what this is all about for me: actually I really am trying to improve my eye when it comes to colour handling, framing, composition, grading and retouching in general. I am not a photographer, nor am I a retoucher. I have been in the graphic design industry for more than ten years now starting as an online screen designer. a few years ago I decided to change my direction and make a move into the motion graphics industry. a few months ago I quit my job and now I am a freelance motion designer. ever since I am a little kid I have been taking pictures. I constantly try to get better shooting everything, from landscapes to portraits. and now that I am a freelance motion designer, being a semi-professional photographer really helps me. I just bought a Nikon D800, which lets me film as well. So combining all of these techniques makes me able to create image films, music videos etc. recently I have finished a set of station IDs for german television as a creative director for my former company. so, making a long story short: I WILL try using flashes and apperture settings like you suggested! hopefully some friend or my girlfriend will be my model :-)

Dec 28 12 11:59 am Link

Photographer

M K

Posts: 251

Athens, Attikí, Greece

pellepiano wrote:
I believe the simplest way is to make a copy of the original layer, blur it and set blend mode to screen and adjust opacity. And maybe add a layer mask with a gradient so the effect is more pronounced where the windows are.
I used two separate "light" layer on this one. One for general softness and and aone for the window.
http://www.lutzimages.com/thread_images/mm_snobben_versaille_.jpg

I m sorry, what do you mean by- I used two separate "light" layer on this one. One for general softness and and aone for the window.-?
Which gradient did you use in this picture?

Dec 28 12 02:08 pm Link

Retoucher

BorderlineBunny

Posts: 2201

Tulsa, Oklahoma, US

Freetoucher wrote:
@BorderlineBunny: what exactly do you mean by "decreasing the offset in exposure"?

Oh, for Photoshop there is an option to adjust the exposure, and "offset" is one of the things you can tweak.

Dec 28 12 02:23 pm Link

Photographer

JustTheDarkness

Posts: 59

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Black scarf over the lens gets a similar effect to this ..

Dec 28 12 02:33 pm Link

Retoucher

Peano

Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

MaL kap wrote:
I m sorry, what do you mean by- I used two separate "light" layer on this one.

I think he just means you duplicate the first screen/blur layer, mask it and apply it to the window. Took me three screen layers to get his result, but I believe this is how he did it:

http://img577.imageshack.us/img577/6702/flareh.jpg

For the gradient I used a large, soft brush on the mask.

Dec 28 12 02:59 pm Link

Photographer

Hikari Tech Photography

Posts: 791

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Ex Voto  Studio wrote:

In the 80's that would have all been done in camera with Cokin or Tiffen filters..... man I am old.

I was thinking the same thing and sometimes I still might as post work can't solve every need.

I am only reminded that I am 'older' when someone requests passport or other ID info. hmm

Dec 28 12 03:11 pm Link

Retoucher

Peano

Posts: 4106

Lynchburg, Virginia, US

Another way, one that doesn't require duplicating image pixels ...

http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/6306/flare3a.jpg

Dec 28 12 05:32 pm Link

Photographer

pellepiano

Posts: 2282

Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

Yes, like Peano said.
My original was not as efficient pixelwise. It just had the Blurred and Window layers set to Screen and a Solid color layer set to Color ( low opacity ).

http://www.lutzimages.com/thread_images/mm_layers.jpg

Oh, I now see that on my version I also colored the window gradient light with a little yellow ( I did not save my example .psd )

Dec 29 12 01:14 am Link

Retoucher

Sofia Zasheva

Posts: 154

Sofia, Sofija grad, Bulgaria

This looks like pink "filter"  to get the uniformity and the slight tint plus halation.
If you load the blue channel, increase the contrast and fill the white parts with white, blur it and mask what you don't need, you'll get a similar effect.

Dec 29 12 01:23 am Link

Retoucher

Freetoucher

Posts: 9

Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

ok, now i think i got your approaches regarding the "blooming" effect from the light source. i am still not very sure how to get the rouge tint, but anyway. are there any ideas regarding the general soft focus? i found one more shooting, that incorporates that technique very well (slightly NSFW):

http://www.fashionising.com/pictures/s- … 454-1.html

is it really just a duplicated gaussian blur layer with decreased opacity? i find it hard to recreate that way...

Dec 29 12 09:06 am Link

Photographer

PhotoEclat

Posts: 195

Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Ex Voto  Studio wrote:
In the 80's that would have all been done in camera with Cokin or Tiffen filters..... man I am old.

yeaaaah, thinking exactly the same

Dec 29 12 09:14 am Link

Photographer

pellepiano

Posts: 2282

Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

Freetoucher wrote:
is it really just a duplicated gaussian blur layer with decreased opacity? i find it hard to recreate that way...

If you refer to my image test ...

I used a blurred layer of the original layer, with Screen as blendmode and then lowered opacity.
The rouge tint is just a solid color layer set to Color Blend mode with very low opacity.

Dec 29 12 03:01 pm Link