Monday, April 27, 2009


This is a photo of Claudius in the play Hamlet, performed by actors from Lee College in Baytown over the weekend. Cindi Barker and I got there a little early on Saturday and took some photos of the characters before the play. It was a learning experience in many ways --- trying to work with strobes off camera in a dark theater in a limited timeframe isn't a real confidence builder. There were lots of fumbles, lots of mysteries, and not a lot of time to recover from any of them. But in the end, I liked this image --- lit with a single SB800 shot through a small softbox; 1/100 of a sec at f/3.2, shot with the Nikon 70-200 VR (which is amazing in sharpness and focusing in such adverse conditions). Now, to be honest there was a fair amount of tweaking of the raw file to get to this point. I had qualms about highlighting the ring as much as I did. I'd like to hear comments: would it be a stronger image (more about the face and eyes) if the red ring was knocked down a little in postprocessing? Like I said, sometimes you can learn from adversity, and Saturday night that sure happened.


  1. This is a really nice portrait Steve.

    It looks to me like you got the lighting just right.

    The stone in the ring looks a little bright compared to the stones in the crown. Any way to even them out (maybe make the stones in the crown brigher)? On the other hand I don't know that I would have noticed the stone much if you hadn't asked.

    Well done!

  2. Amazing! I hope we get to go back. I think the ring adds to the mood and gives more information about the character...but Barry has some good suggestions, maybe try burning in the ring and dodging the jewels in the crown. But since the ring is so close to his face, I think it just causes the eye to go all around the image. What all did you do to the background? Any more good ones of Claudius?


  3. First things first: the lighting is outstanding. I find it very difficult, as we have discussed before, to light dark skinned people. You can get some really had to control "hot spots". You did a really fine job here. The lighting also seems to fit the play--light and dark sides of the royal world.

    The ring does not bother me. In fact, it seems to fit the role of Claudius.

    The diagonal lines of light on the background adds a dynamic nature to the photograph. I wish you would have turned his body about 45 decrees to his right and then turned his head to look straight at the camera. I think that would have made the lighting even more effective and complemented the lines of light on the background.

    Really good job. Hope you had fun.

  4. My eye takes in the whole photography envious of the rembrandt lighting. Very good. Next I see the crown, the face, the clothing and as a final touch my eye rests on the ring. The ring cements the role of the actor. Very nice job "as is" for me.

    In my limited career in portraits, I have found that if you turn the subject 45 degrees as mentioned by Larry and drop one of the shoulders so that you have an angle there too, you don't have so "much squared off" shoulder staring you in the face in your portrait. Try on your next portrait and see for yourself!

  5. Wow. This is just an awesome shot Steve. The lighting is perfect in every way. The mood your subject projects comes through exceptionally well.

    You really nailed the exposure here. I don't think the ring takes anything away, considering the style of clothing he is wearing.


  6. I think the broad shoulder look complements the role of a king. He rules the land far and wide. He's powerful and imposing.

    Larry, I got a good laugh out of your "45 decrees" typo (considering the subject of the photo).

  7. Hello. And Bye.

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