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I recently put a photo of a makeup shot for my regular Makeup Artist, Samantha Craughwell, on my photography blog: Geisha. While the lighting is straightforward, I thought I’d do a post on it.

For a lot of beauty shots, I favour Butterfly lighting. This is where the light is above the models head, and to the front. It casts a particular shadow under the nose, which is meant to look like a butterfly front on in flight. It’s more visible with harder light. My mate, Gary Hill, calls it ‘idiot lighting’ because anyone can get it right. In this instance I used the Elinchrom 70cm Deep Octa as key light, metered to f8, attached to a BX400. I choose f8 to allow the fabric background to blur. Had I want it in focus, I would’ve gone to at least f16. The light was mounted on an Elinchrom Polystand, a really versatile (albeit expensive) wheeled stand.

I added a silver reflector underneath to kick back light onto the fan, and for under the chin when the fan wasn’t being used. I choose it over white, as I needed more contrast in the shot. If you prefer a softer look, go with white.

Hair lights are a little out of vogue now, but for shots like these, I prefer to accent the hair, and the flowers. For this I used a 2nd BX400. This was on a Incline Arm stand, as reviewed here already, with a grid and barn door set to give me exact control over positioning. Metered to f8 also. For blonde hair, I wouldn’t have it so bright.
Both the stand and grid set are from Bessel.

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The final element in the lighting is a background light. For ease more than anything else, I used a bare Portaflash 336VM. I’ve 2 of these from my first ever kit, and still keep them for accent lights. Set to lowest power. I tend to used BG lights to taste, rather than meter strictly, unless I’m going for a high key look.

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Anyone that’s done even minor amounts of skin retouching will tell you that using a mouse is a great way to get RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Ultimately a Pen and Tablet is a much better way. Generally the barrier to entry is price. Wacom are the king of this brand, with the Intuos Touch hitting almost €500.

That’s not an ideal starting price, but there are other options, and from the same company too. Wacom have a starter series called the ‘Bamboo’ range. I became familiar with them from their older Bamboo Fun. With a mix of speaking arrangements made, I felt that I really needed something for travel, rather than dealing with the frustration of using a trackpad on my older Macbook Pro.

The best option for price and size was the Bamboo Pen, which cost €65 from my local Mac store Galmac. The tablet is reasonably large, but the working area is smaller. The pen can be stored with it too, sliding into a luminous green cloth retainer on the side-perfect for travel. The USB cable is a slightly more obscure variety, so needs looking after though.

In use the Bamboo Pen feels right and is comfortable to use. Bearing in mind that I was doing 4 different talks at Focus on Imaging each day, and setting up and breaking down in 2 minutes, it performed flawlessly. It doesn’t weigh much either, so it doesn’t impact on travel weight, always a concern with low cost airlines.

The sensitivity is not as high as an Intuos, but is still more than enough to get going. You can overcome this a little by zooming in more though. Going from mouse/trackpad to tablet use takes practice. It’s key that you set the tablet to tablet mode in preferences or it can be a struggle to learn properly. In tablet mode the working area represents the whole screen (or multi screen) area. Moving to a point on the tablet corresponds to that part of the screen.

The Bamboo Pen comes with the ‘Bamboo Dock’ app, which has widgets to help you practice using the pen and getting proficient with it. Personally I rarely use a mouse these day and prefer the pen and tablet for everything. Would I recommend the Pen as a starter or travel product? Yes, without hesitation.

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I think that as photographers we can get fixated on the extraordinary. The vision of paradise as it were. Which is ironic, because in the art world, it can be the mundane that is the best seller. I’m not here to argue what makes art, but sometimes we need to see the ordinary in a new way. Being ordinary for us, isn’t ordinary for others. So here’s a shot of the ordinary in my life.

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I love this short video portrait of Juergen Teller over on Nowness.


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I recently made an order with Bessel in the UK. I needed a few bits, and have been hankering for a boom arm to use for hairlights/overhead light. I do have an Enlichrom Polystand, which is pretty amazing. I use that for my main light though. As much as I love it, I couldn’t ever justify buying a 2nd one. Bessel do a boom they call the Incline Arm Stand. There’s no direct link, it’s in the middle of the stands page at a cheap £49.99 plus VAT. Over 1/4 of the price of the Polystand, albeit with no wheels.

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It’s always a nice surprise when someone you’ve been following on Twitter launches an eBook. And even better when it’s with Craft and Vision. Martin Bailey (@martinbailey), who’s just got an all clear from surgery, is obviously getting on with his life. Today marks the launch of ‘Making The Print‘, his ebook on the print process. As one begins to read the book, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s a beginner only book. Martin starts the book really easy, introducing the process of home printing to the new user. It doesn’t end there though and extends all the way into print calibration, large format printing, and even creating, laminating and mounting gallery wrap canvas prints.


This 65 page book is beautifully laid out. Martin’s photographs don many of the page backgrounds as well as being visible in the photos of the printing process. They’re simply wonderful and prove Martin the master printer. He breaks the print process down in steps that you take, each one bringing you closer to a great print. From explaining how to preview prints vs monitors, monitor brightness, paper selection, to sharpening your prints, Martin covers the software process to getting good prints in Lightroom, Aperture and Photoshop. Other software choices covered include Perfect Resize from onOne Software and Sharpener Pro from Nik.

Stepping it up, Martin takes use through both monitor and print calibration, and talks about the variety of tools to do it, in every price bracket. He also covers camera calibration, to give you entire control of the colour process right through from capture to print. Soft proofing gets explained in detail for Photoshop (Lightroom 4 Beta’s soft proof gets a mention in-blog posts will fill in the detail).

The final sections of the book cover large format printing, how to make your own gallery wraps, and printing for exhibition. With the gallery wraps, we get a detailed look at cleaning, laminating, stretching mounting canvas. The photos of the laminating process are worth the price of the book for those that have never done it. The final section on printing for exhibition is interesting. I like the advice and will try it myself next time I exhibit.

All in all, the book is well written and surprisingly comprehensive for its size. At less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee, it’s a no brainer for those interested in improving printing at home. In fact Martin even suggests at times that if you don’t want to go through the process, to seek out a lab to work with. That can be worth the price too!

As always with Craft and Vision books, there’s an intro promo. For the next five days only, use the promotional code PRINT4 when you checkout so you can have the PDF version of Making the Print for only $4 OR use the code PRINT20 to get 20% off when you buy 5+ PDF eBooks from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm PST January 21, 2012.

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I preordered Art & Soul, photographed by Brian Smith, ages ago. I’ve had it a while and intended on posting about it, but of course, life gets in the way of plans. Anyhow, I’ve really enjoyed both the photography and the messages from the artists and celebrities involved.

I think I first became aware of Brians work through his connection with X-Rite. They’ve a wonderful video of Brian working with Burlesque performers, and I really liked his final photos. You can follow Brian on Twitter as @briansmithphoto or check out his website at

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Even though my only Medium Format camera is a film only Mamiya, I still love seeing the work of those better able to afford these quality cameras. One of the features this month is on Perou, whom I first saw on Channel 4′s ‘Dirty Sexy Things’. I thought he was thoroughly obnoxious throughout the series, but I’m pretty sure that’s how the editors wanted it. There’s no question that the final images from the exhibition are stunning, and I enjoyed the series in general.
His portfolio site is equally as enthralling, so I was glad for the excuse to go back and look over it. If you haven’t already seen it, go have a look at the latest Hasselblad Bulletin.

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I simply love the work of Charles Yeh, better known as LUCIMA. As a regular on the front page of Model Mayhem, he’s an easy find, but the work is both wonderful and inspiring. As you can imagine, I was delighted to see him post a video detailing how he retouches. He even use the frequency split methods I’ve linked to before.

L U C I M A | Beauty Retouch Tutorial from Charles LUCIMA on Vimeo.

Make sure you go to the original blog post where he talks about the video itself. You can also view his work on Flickr.

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Being the 3rd November, everyone is waiting with baited breath to see what Canon will be announcing in Hollywood today at 3pm PST.


Of course this post is actually nothing to do with that, but people probably think it is! Nope.. it’s far more retro than that. I’m a Holga owner, and my first one was bought through the Lomography website. That means I paid over the odds for it, but I did get a nice photo book with it.

Today, they’ve a big announcement about the Lomokino. It’s a hand cranked movie camera that uses 35mm film. Not as 35mm, but rather 144 frames on a 36 shot film roll. There’s also a kit with a KinoScope, that lets you play back the developed film, again a hand cranked device.

Pricewise, you’re looking at €65 for the camera, or €89 for a kit with the camera and KinoScope. Not bad for a little retro movie making.

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