Hallowe’en, originally uploaded by Sbmoot.

One of the great things about Fred and Linda’s Hallowe’en parties is that they always cover the walls in black cloth – meaning someone like me can take some great low-key portraits of people in cool costumes, if the people in question decide to cooperate. And hey, they’re wearing costumes. Of course they’re going to cooperate with someone holding a camera!

So I took a bunch of portraits, some of which are on my flickr page. This is the most recent one I posted, and one of the ones I like best. The composition seems to work for me, and the minimal bit of Photoshop I did on it just brings out its strengths. At least, that is what I hope.

I am starting this blog to give myself the chance to think about my passion for photography and to share my progress as I strive to get better at the art and craft of making pictures. In the process I hope to also show off some photos, naturally, and to receive comments on them if people feel so inclined. Feel free to be critical and to make suggestions about how I could have done better. As I said, one of my goals is to learn!

For those who care, here are some technical details: this shot was taken with a Canon EOS 400D (“Digital Rebel xti”), and a Canon EF-S 17-85mm lens. The f-stop was 5.6 and the focal length was 68mm. I had a Speedlite 430 ex II mounted in the hotshoe on the camera pointed up and camera-left to bounce the light back down onto the subject.

In Photoshop, I set the white balance and did some curves work on the skin tones. I also masked her out and darkened the background. Other touch-ups were minimal (she is beautiful and didn’t need the help). I am usually doing more Photoshop than I need to these days, because I am studying it – so I have a tendency, occasionally, to take photos with some Photoshop technique in mind, so that I can try out the latest thing I learned on whatever photo I most recently took! In this case, I masked out my subject so that I could deepen the background black (it was a kind of muslin and some light showed through. Also, there was an object in the background that I removed.

By the way, I am learning how to do all this partly by trial-and-error, but mainly through a subscription to Lynda.com‘s online training library. I’m a big fan, and no … they’re not sponsoring me or anything. In fact, I’m paying them!

…and as your reward for getting to the end of this post, here is another image from the same series:



– till next time.