Hannah – Old Hollywood Style

Hannah – Old Hollywood Style

Portraits with Hannah

These photos were taken New Years Day 1999.  Billy, another photographer and I had been shooting and processing our photos in a darkroom for some time and we were both at a party the night before.  Hannah was attending the event as well.  We approached her, asking if she would allow us to shoot her the next day at our studio.  We thought she had marvellous bone structure and would make for some great photos.

She showed up on time the next day on time and everything.  I told her what I needed as preparation, some simple makeup.  She told me that she’d never used make up!  Although she did have lot of bits and pieces of things that her friends kept giving her.  I’d had been studying some Kevin Aucoin books about the subject and although I’d never attempted it myself decided I would try some of the techniques out that I’d learned.  

Hannah had enough of these stashed away in her small purse allowing me to go to work. It was fairly minimal, some eye makeup and blush, but it worked well for what we were shooting. 

The portrait with the hands against the face is another tribute to the Hollywood photographers of the 1940s such as George Hurrell.

Old Negatives

The negatives have been in storage since that time and I scanned them in a couple of weeks ago.   Pretty messed up.  A lot of work in Lightroom fixing up the photos that you see here. 

Lighting and Film

I don’t remember but likely two lights and possibly a reflector.  I think Billy and I shot a roll of film each.  I would have shot these on an old Nikon FE camera with a marvellous Nikkor 105 mm lens.  Great lens for portraits.  Pretty sure the film was Ilford 400 ISO.

Some more Old Hollywood style photos


#oldhollywood #georgehurrell #nikonfe #portraits #blackandwhite

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Owen’s Graduation Photos

Owen’s Graduation Photos

Geeky and "Ungeeky" Photos for Owen

‘My mom wants me to get graduation photos.”  Owen never got them done last Spring due to all the Covid kerfuffle.  He asked me Saturday evening and we were going to shoot Sunday. Owen plays football on the school team and I wanted a few shots with his gear so we waited till Monday evening.  He was actually supposed to turn his gear in that day but coach was kind enough to allow him to use for the graduation photos. 

This from mama:

“Thanks so much Martin! They are stunning!
Really appreciate you taking those beautiful images for me!

Geeky photos and Serious photos

We first off did the geeky shots with gown etc.  Nice posed shots with the gown and hat, photos for the fireplace mantle.  The one with the cardigan is actually pretty nice.  I’m hoping that even with these that the lighting keeps them from being too, too geeky.  Well, maybe not.

Then we got down to some more interesting stuff.  My first time doing anything like this at all so was a hoot.  I’ve done outdoor, more geeky shots but mostly ladies.  I really love shooting guys, men, boys, as I don’t have to soften the photos I can be a little more ‘extreme’ with the editing. 

Please contact me if you need photos of your family or teen graduation photos - anytime of the year!

Please, if you get this far reading, check out the portraits in the different sections of my website.  I’ll shoot anything but LOVE taking photos of people.


#portraits #gradphotos #graduation #seniorsphotos #seniors 

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Natural Portraits

Natural Portraits

Natural Portraits

The last few weekends, I’ve been taking photos of the actors in costume and make-up at Haunt Manor Niagara Falls.  One more weekend to go, starting this evening.  Great fun.  As I already had the lighting set up, i managed to get a few natural looking portraits of actors before make up and costume.  The line up is long and as taking photos of people in the studio is my happy place...

The whole routine is quite a test for me.  Very little time per person.  I've set up the lights ahead of time of course.  But when the actors come in I have a minute or two maximum with them to get a decent shot.  I started with outside shots when Haunt began a few weeks ago.  Some dynamite  outside sets with creepy lights and amazing backdrops. Had to move indoors as the days got shorter.  Just wasn’t enough light out there.  So, a quick intro, a couple of poses and out you go.  

Posted a few on the blog and lots from the inside studio set up from the last two weekends.  Fortunately I was able to set up some spooky panels as background. 

NO monsters here - just some simple portraits.

A Four Light Setup 

  1. Six foot reflector - 51” Para Deep Umbrella behind the camera
  2. 3’ Octa - camera left - feathered.
  3. 4’ strip light camera right.  Slightly behind the subject.
  4. Small snoot pointed at background

For years I shot with one light and reflectors.  Lots of good material but I do love the flexibility that having four lights gives me.  So much fun.

#portraits #studiolighting #studioportraits #portraiture #blackandwhite #headshots

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Music at Canalside Restaurant

Music at Canalside Restaurant

Mark Clout

Most weekends you will find some easy, mellow music at The Canalside Restaurant in Port Colborne.  The  town sits on Lake Erie and the restaurant views

More Portraits here

#music #guitar #canalside #markclout #portcolborne #streetphotography #portrait #wellandcanal

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Photographing Men

I find there is quite a difference photographing men to photographing portraits of women.  The way I shoot and approach my subjects anyway.  Perhaps I’ve changed over the years and become a bit seasoned with age.  Don’t know for sure. 

Posing, editing, lighting, all these I do a little differently.  It has been said that one should first learn the rules extremely well, and only then one can or should be able, if one wants, to break them.

Female Artistic Nudes here

#headshot #portrait #blackandwhite #portraiture #serious

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Lightroom Workflow


This is my workflow for portraits/headshots. I’m sure that I do other stuff than this but here is a general outline:

  1. If needed, lighten exposure to see enough detail
  2. Crop to desired shape.  Use the Golden Rectangle.  Use Command-O  to change overlay.  Place a key element at ‘cross lines’.Or have one of the vertical lines go up through centre of face, for example in a portrait.
  3. Overall: I play with Exposure/Contrast/Clarity/Saturation to get the balance the way I like.  If I up the Clarity and Contrast almost always drop the Saturation. 
  4. I’ll also play with the Highlights/Shadows/Whites/Blacks.  This can open up shadows and tone down the highlights if necessary.
  5. Eyes: Adjustment Brush (I bought Sean Archer’s Lens Lab add ons  for the Adjustment Brush.  They are really handy.  https://lenslab.com/products/sean-archer-collection)
  6. Iris enhancement: If the eyes are pretty much evenly lit, I do both with same overlay.  If they have different amounts of light, I click ‘new’ for each iris.  Don’t overdo them but bring them up so that they can be seen.  If you are shooting outside and there is no ‘glint’ in the eye from a reflector, this will help with that. 
  7. Dark edge of iris: Click ‘New’ on Adjustment Brush and go to ‘Darken’.  Use your mouse to make circle small.  (You can also use the square brackets for this [ ] to make bigger or smaller.  Sometimes better control of the size this way.) Go around the very edge of the iris, not going onto the white of the eye. 
  8. Whiten eyes: Click ‘New’ on Adjustment Brush and click on ‘Lighten’.  Go over the white parts of the eyes.
  9. Click ‘New’ again and use ‘Lash and Brow Sharpen’ 
  10. Now but often later when I have done some other stuff, I may use ‘Lighten’, ‘Sharpen’ or ‘Clarity’ or a combination of more than on using a larger ‘circle’ over the whole eye/lid/brow area. 
  11. Whiten Teeth with Adjustment Brush.  You can customize.
  12. Lips: Use the LensLab colour of your choice.  Or just use Sharpen or Clarity
  13. Spot removal brush to get rid of blemishes.  This can be done in PS as well but pretty easy to do in LR
  14. Adjustment Brush: Soften skin or Soften Skin (light).  Depends on the skin.  Often ‘light’ is plenty.
  15. Adjustment brush: Lighten - use this to highlight/accent hair.  Don’t over do.
  16. Adjustment brush: Darken - Usually darken the background on portraits. Gradiently darker as it gets to the edges.  Do the whole background then hit ‘new’ leaving it on Darken and do further out in steps toward the edge.  You can also use Post-Crop Vignetting but using Darken Bruch gives you more control.
  17. Detail: For sharpening the image.  Hold the Option button down on your Mac keyboard.  Then slide the ‘Masking’ slider to the right.  This will sharpen just the edges.  Once you have got that over to 60-70 or so, you can slide the ‘Amount’ over to the right.  You may not want to use this on all photos but it’s a good tool to have.
  18. Make any other adjustments to Exposure/Clarity/etc like you did in step #3 and #4.
  19. I will then sometimes use Clarity/Sharpen/Lighten in Adjustment Brush for some piece of clothing or something in the background I may want to bring out a bit. 
  20. Photoshop: Go from LR to PS.  Use Liquify Tool to billow out the hair a bit on some of the ladies photos.
  21. PhotoShop: Get rid of any background items that are distracting.

Some more samples at my Portrait Page

#lightroom #lightroomedits #portraits #headshots #workflow #lightroomworkflow

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Portrait of Gerry

My Friend Gerry

I asked my friend Gerry a while back if I could do some photos with him.  He has a great look.  Setting it up last week, he said that we’d better hurry up; who knows how long he will be around. 

Some Hollywood style photos here

#blackandwhiteportrait #portrait #gerry #portraiture #headshot #blackandwhitephoto #streetphotography

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Some ‘Dark’ Photos with Owen

Dramatic Portraiture

The world, if not exactly getting back to normal, is at least to the point where one can function more naturally.  With that I’m taking portraits again. 

My happy place.

Perfect lighting here most evenings and lots of space.  Last couple of photo shoots, I’ve been using an old Nikon 50mm 1.8 ‘E’ series lens.  This lens is likely about 50 years old.  I’ve had it for years and often when shooting I default to zoom lenses, even for portraits.  Zoom lenses are so easy.  Definitely great for candid shots but one does lose some quality/sharpness. 

#streetphoto #streetphotography #portrait #portraiture #headshot #headshots

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Warrior Women

My Foray into Photoshop

Warrior Women

I’ve been taking photos for years.  I always kinda wanted to learn Photoshop but I’m quite competent with Lightroom and have made do pretty well with that.  I could always find a way to do most of what I needed with Lightroom.  And silly as it sounds I always had difficulty understanding ‘layers’.  Fairly recently, having the need or desire to actually change a background and do a couple of other things that I couldn’t do well with Lightroom, I figured it out.

I was searching videos on how to emulate Sean Archer’s techniques.  I didn’t necessarily want to take the same photos but there were a few things that I liked about his photos, one being how he installed his backgrounds.  On Youtube, I came across Irene Rudnyk.  One simple video of hers helped everything fall into place.  I’m by no means an expert yet, ‘the devil is in the details’ and I need a lot of practice with those details but here are a few photos that where I changed the background to fit what I had envisioned when I took the original photo. 

There are certainly a number of factors that have to be taken into consideration when combining a couple of photos and I don’t know that I’ve done a perfect job on taking lighting into account with these but for me it was a blast.  I’m totally excited that I was able to get these three photos to the stage they are.

Boudoir Photos

#warriorwomen #warriorwoman #dramaticportrait #portrait #portraiture #photoshop #studioportrait #swords #nude #bowandarrow

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Portrait or Landscape for Headshots?

Studio Headshots and Senior Portraits - Portrait or Landscape?

The standard for years for individual portrait photos is vertical.  Particularly headshots for actors and actresses.  With the advent of the internet and the wide computer screen, it is often more attractive to go with a horizontal exposure.  

There are other factors that can make this equally or even more appealing such as the use of negative space.  Negative space is part of the picture that is not your subject.  For example, if you were taking a photo of a tree or a couple of trees, then the space around and between the trees would be ‘negative’ space.  

Shooting wide or using a landscape or horizontal image can give you more of this negative space which can be quite effective if used wisely.  

I've included a few examples shooting in a landscape or horizontal mode.

This is a Senior shot for graduation.  The railway tracks add some dimension or depth to the photo without distracting from the main subject.


Here, in this next photo, the girl in the hat is turned ever so slightly to her right, so giving extra space in that direction makes it all look more natural.  And that space is used with light/shadow add some dynamic to the photo.







This next is from a series.  A studio headshot for an marvellous opera singer.  A series of simple headshot but using the wide frame.  Again, the body is turned, to the left this time, and giving space there, makes sense again.  The same with Mikayla in the outdoor shot (right). (We agreed that was the coldest of that type of photoshoot ever!)







The use of ‘Landscape’ layout allows for more creativity in many instances.  You can give more depth and focus to your image without in any way detracting from your main subject.   Use this negative space to take advantage of eye trail, perspective, colour and host of other techniques the will help focus on the person you are photographing.  Or some aspect of the person that you want to accentuate.

A ‘wide’ photo like this will actually look just fine and often better on websites and enlarged fit a computer screen almost perfectly.  If you do an image search for example for real estate agents, almost all of them are using the Landscape format.  Same for insurance agent.  And doctors.  These photos fit better on the screen.  And they can communicate much more.  That little bit of extra space can give dimension that is otherwise very difficult to create.

I also find, doing portraits using this wide frame aspect, allows for a more relaxed subject.  The person you are shooting has a bit more flexibility in movement and can appear to being ‘doing’ something instead of looking so static.  The wide frame portrait, if done reasonably well, will draw the viewer in.  And that’s always a good thing. 

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