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Subject: "Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone" Previous topic | Next topic
bluefeather505 Registered since 10th Apr 2013Wed 17-Apr-13 05:56 PM
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"Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
Wed 17-Apr-13 06:02 PM by bluefeather505

Albuquerque, US
          

Hi Folks,
First let me say that during the brief period of time that I have been a member of Nikonians, I have found so much useful and enjoyable information. This has to be the best photography site anywhere.
Now, let ask a question.
In mid September, my wife's, who is a Vietnamese person, entire family will be flying in for a the wedding of one of her nieces. The wedding itself will be shot and video'd by a pro, so I am off the hook there. I will take my Nikon D7100, of course and concentrate on getting some good candids and such, no real pressure there.
My real work will begin when everyone is back at my Sister-in-Laws and my folks will be looking for a few nice group shots and individual family portrait style photos (incandesant light).
Because, by blind luck, I have managed to get a few decent shots of some of them outdoors, they think I know what I am doing(NOT).
So anyway, I want to do a very good job for them, as a get together like this is a rare occasion.
What I am concerned with is setting up to get a nice skintone. Mostly their complexions range from just off white to full nut brown, medium brown to almost black eyes and jet black hair. Even in the magazines and photography forums I have viewed, the asian skin tone seems to be elusive.I am looking for soft and natural, with a decent dynamic range.
I have test shot my wife and some of her friends and ended up with orangish-brownish tint that did not do justice.
I will be using a Nikon D7100 (I have 35mm f/1.8 and 18-300mm Nikkors at hand) and a SB700 speedlight. I have several diffusers and a softbox for the speedlight,I can use it on or off camera, and I have till September to sort this out. I don't mind doing homework
If anyone has any suggestions as to a good starting point or guideline,
I would truly appreciate it.
I am but a humble shutterbumbler but I will do what I can to give something back to this fine site.
Thanks in advance,
Mike

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
mkbee1 Silver Member
17th Apr 2013
1
Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
bluefeather505
17th Apr 2013
2
     Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
mkbee1 Silver Member
17th Apr 2013
3
          Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
bluefeather505
18th Apr 2013
4
Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
Arkayem Moderator
20th Apr 2013
5
Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
barrywesthead Silver Member
20th Apr 2013
6
Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
Arkayem Moderator
20th Apr 2013
7
     Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
bluefeather505
21st Apr 2013
8
Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
blw Moderator
26th Apr 2013
9
Reply message RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone
bluefeather505
26th Apr 2013
10

mkbee1 Silver Member Nikonian since 26th Nov 2012Wed 17-Apr-13 08:25 PM
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#1. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 0


West Valley, US
          

Hi, Mike. You have yourself a real challenge, there.(No pressure, or nothin', right? hee hee)

Like my flight instructor said: "We'll start with straight and level flight." Set everything you can beforehand,but be ready for surprises.

1. Keep it simple...matrix metering or center weighted. Test! Use your family members. Perhaps not all ranges of skin tone will be represented, but you can get a really good idea of how things should go. How large of a group(s) do you anticipate? Use your soft bos, bouncers, etc. to tell you what you like best. Do it a couple of times. "Gee, hon, I'm not really satisfied with the last set of photos we took...and I want to do a really good job for you and your family."

2. Incandescent lighting? Studio-type or general household bulbs? Electronic flash? Adjust your white balance to what looks better to you.

3. Write down the settings/equipment you like best, so you can repeat them. You will forget by September!

4. If you can get them together outside, in the shade, or with their backs to the sun, expose for the faces, and fill flash the heck out of them!

5. Remember the ooooold rule of thumb: "If not the Sun, light 45 degrees between camera and subject,and at a 45 degree downward angle, which is close enough to ol'Sol.

6. Keep the group as compact as you can, to reduce flash fall-off between the first and last rows.

I hope this hasn't added to the confusion and natural anxiety...so, good luck! You'll do well!

It is a Fine and Pleasant Madness

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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bluefeather505 Registered since 10th Apr 2013Wed 17-Apr-13 08:47 PM
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#2. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 1
Wed 17-Apr-13 08:48 PM by bluefeather505

Albuquerque, US
          

Thanks mkbee,
That is good solid advice and you have given me some idea of how to put some order to my mess.
Most of the shots that I am really concerned with will be indoors, probably in the evening, under plain old generic household incandesant.
So, do you say I should set my WB to something other than flash. even though I am using flash? That is something I probably wouldn't have thought of. Why not try it though?
I thank you again for your thoughts and advice.
This is the reason I like this website so much!
I will try to take some shots of the missus indoors and attach them here for critique and target practice.
Thanks again,
Mike

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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mkbee1 Silver Member Nikonian since 26th Nov 2012Wed 17-Apr-13 10:45 PM
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#3. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 2
Wed 17-Apr-13 10:48 PM by mkbee1

West Valley, US
          

Mike;
I presume your flash will be the primary light source. Flash has a color temprature of ~5500 Kelvin...bluish. Incandescent lighting is generaly 2700-3200 K..."warmer" and rather orangish. For household incandescent lighting, if your flash is primary, it may overcome the incan lights.

BUT! Incandescent White Balance tends to neutralize the orangish cast of incan lights,and portray flesh and other tones as we see them, as does AUTO White Balance,to a degree.

So...In the True Spirit of Never Leaving Well-Enough Alone, (Something my wife says I have developed to a Fine art, although I'm sure I don't know what she is referring to! ) I have mounted a Color Temparature Orange CTO 1/4 gel on my flash, to warm it up a tad. It seems to work fine, with Auto Color balance, and Caucasian skin tones.

Experiment to see what you like, and keep it as simple as you can. By September,you'll be ready!

One little hint: Set your AE-L AF-L button function to AF-L. That way, you will eliminate the preflash that guarantees 50% closed eyes and causes much frustration! Get folks settled/posed, then press the AF-L button...it will set the flash off, and the camera will read the exposure. As long as the distance remains the same, every subsequent exposure will be good. A tripod amd the marvelous little ML-L3 remote release will help a lot.

Just remember: portraits; no "football shoulders", even for the men! have them turn slightly to the right or left of the camera. Eyes in focus Always! Use enough DOF to cover the head front to back...that will cover any slight misalignments. F/8 comes to mind. Photography is somewhat like debate: Be Brief, Be Brilliant, BEGONE! Your subjects will thank you!

Woe! I do rattle on, don't I? Apologies! Just don't get me started. I LOVE this magical pastime called photography!

Carl

It is a Fine and Pleasant Madness

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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bluefeather505 Registered since 10th Apr 2013Thu 18-Apr-13 01:03 AM
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#4. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 3


Albuquerque, US
          

Carl,
Please "rattle on" all you want to. I am a sponge and I really value your wisdom and thoughts.
I will experiment with the WB more now that you have given me some new insight. This is probably a good scenario for some bracketing work.
That tip concerning the AE-L AF-L button is a very good one. You can bet I will be using it.
Like I said, I really want to make the most of this oppurtunity. A few of these folks are making the trip from Vietnam, most of the rest are coming from California or the South East. Your analogy about debating is a good one. I want to get these folks some nice pics to take home and then just let them enjoy their stay.
Thanks again,
I will try out some different techniques and let you know how they are working.
Take care,
Mike

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 20-Apr-13 04:37 PM
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#5. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

The key to accurate skin tones is to completely control the light you are using for the exposure.

The SB700 flash makes very accurate light and will work exceptionally well to reproduce skin tones as long as you make sure there is no other light of a different temperature adding to the image.

If you are shooting in unknown artificial light, it is very difficult to achieve proper skin tones unless you use your flash to completely overpower the ambient light. You need to make sure the camera is in manual mode and set to underexpose the ambient by at least two stops, and then turn on the flash. That way the flash provides the primary light on the subject and controls the white balance.

I have found the Nikon Auto White Balance to work so well with the Nikon flashes, that I never use anything else when shooting flash pictures.

Russ
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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barrywesthead Silver Member Awareded for his continued support of the Nikonians community, freely sharing his expertise, particularly in the areas of digital post processing and printing. Nikonian since 07th Nov 2006Sat 20-Apr-13 07:29 PM
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#6. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 0
Sat 20-Apr-13 07:50 PM by barrywesthead

Kleinburg, CA
          

A couple of suggestions:

1-- Download this National Geographic multinational skin tone reference image and keep it handy when you white balance your shots in post processing (unless you are shooting JPEG’s, in which case you can resort to whatever color balance tools your software offers).



http://science.nationalgeographic.com/staticfiles/NGS/Shared/StaticFiles/Science/Images/Content/skin-colors-711079-xl.jpg- (you will have to delete the dash off the end of this URL name in your browser address bar -- there seems to be a new behavior I haven't masterd when dragging links into a forum message.)


2-- As an alternative approach to overpowering the ambient incandescent light with your flash (which in inexperienced hands can result in the “deer in the headlights” look) you can use your camera’s excellent low light capability and let your flash work with the incandescent lights rather than against them.

To accomplish this you use a Nikon amber gel (or a full CTO gel) on your flash so the flash color matches the ambient light. Then set your ISO to 1600, angle your flash up one click forward from straight up and use the built-in bounce card.

I have shot a multitude of events this way. One caveat – if you are shooting JPEG’s (with which I have no experience) the ISO 1600 may not be good advice. Shooting RAW gives you all kinds of flexibility to tune skin tones and noise after-the-fact and the less experience you have the more important processing flexibility becomes.

Of all the suggestions above I most strongly recommend using the amber gel (which now that I think about it may be a hard plastic filter on the 910) whenever you are shooting under incandescent lighting.

Barry
http://art2printimages.com

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 20-Apr-13 08:15 PM
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#7. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 6


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

The reason I didn't mention gels is that with all the CFL's in use today, it is very difficult to find a gel to match them. Back when the ambient was either tungsten or standard fluorescent, it was easy. Now, there are CFL's that go from tungsten yellow to daylight and everything in between.

And, if you gel incorrectly, you end up with two colors of light illuminating your subject, and if that happens, it becomes impossible to make the image totally correct. You might be able to make the face right, but then the background is wrong or vice versa.

When I mentioned overpowering the ambient with the flash, I should have also mentioned that you must use proper diffusion (umbrella, soft box, Gary Fong Light Sphere, even flash pointed backwards, etc), just to avoid the deer in the headlight look.

Russ
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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bluefeather505 Registered since 10th Apr 2013Sun 21-Apr-13 12:58 AM
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#8. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 7


Albuquerque, US
          

Thanks Russ.
That all sounds like good advice.
Fortunately, I have several months to experiment
I will probably shoot the portraits with RAW and JPEG and then see what I can sort out.
Thanks for the skin tone pic. It looks like a very good starting point.
Thanks again,
Mike

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004Fri 26-Apr-13 08:53 AM
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#9. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond, US
          

I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned the following:

1) shoot raw, so that the white balance is not baked into the shot. Raw allows far more flexibility later if you need to work on the colors.

2) I take a white card and either put it in the edge of the frame (a tiny bit is sufficient as long as you don't blow it out) or shoot it by itself in the same light. That allows me to go into LR or Photoshop later and have it auto correct white balance. It's particularly easy in LR where the eye dropper makes this a one-click operation.

3) my experience has been that if I do these two things, the auto white balance in the more recent cameras is good enough that I rarely have to mess with color balance unless the scene itself has very complex and contradictory lighting. An example of that would be a scene indoors with overhead florescent lights, near a window with cool evening shadow light, with a roaring fire on the other end of the image. That's three very different light sources, and a situation practically guaranteed to yield really weird results.

------

> I am looking for soft and natural

I think that's not so much a matter of color as getting the lighting right. Strong and direct lighting tends not to do that, whether that is natural or man-made. Diffusers and to some degree reflectors help this a lot, often including bounce flash.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

  

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bluefeather505 Registered since 10th Apr 2013Fri 26-Apr-13 03:41 PM
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#10. "RE: Indoor portrait lighting for Asian skin tone"
In response to Reply # 9


Albuquerque, US
          

Thanks Brian,
That is good advice. The white paper suggestion is good.
I have been doing that, in a round-about way. If I am shooting indoors I try to place a white styrofoam cup in the compositio, where it will be getting cropped out anyway.Then using the photoshop levels adjustment, I sample the cup with the white eyedropper.
Thanks again,
Mike

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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