Last weekend I got to help out a friend named Natalia with some updated head shots. She needed pretty traditional New York style headshots for an upcoming audition, which usually means black and white, white border, actor's name on the photo, that kind of thing. We tried some different lighting approaches and even did a couple things outside, and we got a whole lot of really good photos - it was hard to pick just a few. It wasn't difficult to make her look great, of course, but what a fun morning and what a great learning experience.
I posted color versions here because I loved them, but the black and white ones came out really, really well, too. And I sure have a feel for Silver Efex Pro that I didn't have before, it's such a great, powerful, straightforward tool for converting to black and white. As with a lot of my tools, say Aperture, there are other ways to get the same result, but even though I know Photoshop inside out and backwards from using it for almost 20 years, there's something to be said for tools that let me get through 200 images quickly. (And it's great to have tools that let me get super-deep into a single image - love having the right tools for the job!)
Most of the photos were done doing use 2 speedlites, one for key and one for fill, and a small LED lightbank for either catchlights or for additional fill. (Or in a few cases, just to have enough light to focus in the dark studio room we shot in.) I got some great octobox-style umbrellas I'd picked up just for this, and they created nice, somewhat soft and even light with my flashes, and I got to use my new Phottix Strato ii wireless flash setup, very cool - I had the key light on one channel and the fill light on another so I could turn them on and off from the camera. Still kind of a hassle to manually adjust each flash while I was sorting out the light, but overall I'm very happy with the whole setup. Got to test out one of my handpainted canvas backgrounds for the first time too. My Sigma 50mm F1.4 worked well, but I ended up using my Tamron 90mm F2.8 for a lot of it for a little better working distance, I'm still working out what my next portrait lens might be. I'm super interested in Canon's 135L or even their 85 F1.8, I love primes more and more, but I'm also tempted by a fast zoom just because of the way I end up working... I'm super happy with my 2 speedlite setup for the time being too, still thinking about picking up an AlienBees or something before long for recycle time and such.
Anyway, looking forward to working with Natalia more in the future. And if you're interested in headshots or portraits of your own, let's talk!