digital painting

Melissa Etheridge Portrait

     In 2012, I was asked to shoot some publicity shots and event coverage of Melissa Etheridge who was rolling out her new radio show on Cumulus Networks. As often is the case with celebrities, your window to shoot is 2-3 minutes so you have to be ready. Melissa, however, was warm and friendly. Standing before me was a woman who had endured many struggles, including a recent breakup, a battle with cancer and new motherhood. You could see it in her eyes, she still had a fire inside her, she was a survivor, a fighter.

     On my first shot, the strobe didn't go off and the image was totally dark. I was mortified! I was afraid she was going to up and leave while I looked stupidly at my flash, but she waited patiently. Once the problem was rectified, we took several pictures until I felt I had "the shot". Afterwards, she went into a reception with a few hundred cell phone selfies waiting for her. I am grateful that I got her first, while she was fresh and in a great mood. Love her.

In recent weeks I have been revisiting some of my earlier works and reimagining them. This was taken with a Canon 5D Mk III w/ 24-70 mm 1/50th @ f 6.3, digitally painted.

One Light Portrait? HAH! Try Six....

Today we are lighting Jon with a six light array, will cut his image out, composite with a new background, make visual adjustments and then digitally paint the final image.

First, we start with a single 22" beauty dish, upper camera left. The light spills onto the backdrop, which is less than desirable.

The light spill on the white backdrop appears to be grey, thanks to the inverse square law.

The light spill on the white backdrop appears to be grey, thanks to the inverse square law.

When we clip on a grid over the beauty dish, the light is focused on our subject in a narrow beam that does not reach the backdrop.

To give separation from the backdrop a pair of strip lights are added at a 45 degree angle from behind the subject. I used 3' Westcott Flex Kit lights mounted in a Scrim Jim with diffuser to accomplish this.

Next, a 2' Flex Kit light was added in the front, lower camera right to light his shadowed side of face.

We could stop here with just the four lights. But no, we can't leave well enough alone...

Now, to make cutting Jon's image out for a composite background easier, we throw two flashes on the backdrop, one on each side.

Jon is beginning to look a little annoyed.

Now we back out for a long shot, mask this image and prepare to send Jon to London.

Using a photograph of Notting Hill Station in West London I shot last September...

I placed the train station on the layer under the cutout mask of Jon.

Time to add some dodging and burning...

The background and subject now have similar qualities that marries the two together that (hopefully) makes the total picture believable.

The final touch is to digitally paint over the image using different textures and brushes, and render this final product.

A closer look~

Finally, it goes to print. Because, it's not a picture until it's a print. That's what we do.

Till next time!

bgw