dramatic portrait

Dramatic Portraits in The Garage

Dramatic Portraits in The Garage

Dramatic Portraits on The Road

On a recent road trip out west, to Alberta and British Columbia, I made sure I packed a light, a stand and large soft box.  The soft box being almost six feet but wraps up tightly and takes very little space. 

We spent the day with my wife’s son and doing a family BBQ.  He has a garage where he keeps his motorcycle, a shop where he makes all sorts of interesting tools and a large part that is a studio.  Drums, guitars and the works. 

We were enjoying a cigar I thought it a good opportunity to mix that up with some parts of his life.  We started with him on the bike and then moved to use the music as a backdrop.  I loved how the depth and detail helped tell stories.  Sometimes less in more. But sometimes more is better.

These were all shot with the large soft box behind me and off centre.  Camera Nikon Z6 with a Nikkor 50mm S 1.8 lens.  All very fast and sharp. 

My studio equipment, lights, modifiers all come from Strobepro in Calgary.  Can’t recommend them too highly. 

I did catch a few shots of Spencer’s nephews banging on the drums as well.  I’ll be posting a couple of these at Marty’s Road Trip Blog in the next few days. 

Processing was done with Lightroom Classic on my iMac.  With what this camera catches and Lightroom being such a great tool, gives me a lot to work with to get the photo I want. 

Posted by Martin in Blog, Portraits, 0 comments
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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Selfie – Self Portrait

Selfie – Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Dramatic Portrait

I was getting revved up last Fall to do more portraits.  I had viewed a bunch of videos done by .  Excellent course available on ProEdu.com if you are interested. 

There is no shortage of material on Youtube and elsewhere for learning studio photography and lighting.  My learning process goes a bit like this.  I try and find someone’s photos I like, then figure out the lighting and do exactly what the other photographer did. That’s the first step.  The great thing with someone like Chris Knight is that he guides you through step by step.  I honestly knew a fair bit of the material in his video course but there were definitely some hole that needed filling in.  But more than that, the course showed me how to apply what I knew to what I wanted to do. 

The other thing that continuous learning does, is keep it fresh. 

Once I’ve duplicated exactly the techniques of whatever photographer I’m emulating, and after I’ve done it one or several times, I gain more understanding of what does and doesn’t work for me. 

At that point I can make some decisions of what to add or subtract or alter using other bits of knowledge that I’ve acquired.  Without the first step, I never really get to this third step.  But here I can add other things like some of the techniques of head shot guru Peter Hurley

And studying Dutch masters and how they used chiaroscuro or Leonardo’s “Divine Proportion” and working with these until they become second nature will go a long way to making your photos really communicate.  The way to do this is duplicate whatever process you are trying to learn. Do it over and over and over.  The more this is done the better your understanding and then the better you will be able to put your own create or spin on it. 

All dressed up and no-one to photograph because the world shut down!

So, I took to shooting a few photos of myself.  All the lights I used had modelling lights but that wasn’t a lot of use except for the backlight.  As a result I made more trips back and forth to the camera than I care to count.


The photo here was accomplished with four lights.  Camera right and very near and on the same plane I used a Strobepro 63” Para-Deep Parabolic Umbrella with STROBEPRO 600M Studio Strobe. Camera left, a 4 foot Octabox with grid and StrobePro 400M Studio Strobe.  Camera right behind subject (me) a 4 foot rectangular soft box with grid. Light for this is ProFoto  500. And to shed a little light on the back a small 80MM with a snoot. (StrobePro.com)

The model was very patient while I went through various combinations of power on the lights.  Thank god for the remote firing thingamajig!

Some tweaking in Lightroom and Photoshop and this is the result. 

Never stop learning.

Tastefull Nudes

#portrait #dramaticportrait #headshot #portraiture #studioportrait #chiaroscuro

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Ode To LOR

Ode To LOR

Princess and Swords

Dramatic Portrait 

the lighting

Trying out some new lights with a beautiful young princess and Sting from Lord Of The Rings.  And a sword from the Dark Ages.

Using four and sometimes three lights.  

  • Four foot Octabox with grid to camera left.
  • 63" Umbrella just behind and right of camera with Strobpro 600 (strobepro.com)
  • 12"x 55" Softbox with grid rim light camera right pointing at subjects shoulder and hair
  • Small strobe with snoot pointing at backdrop.

I honestly may have been able to get something similar with fewer lights but love that I was able to do this way.

A bit of editing in Lightroom and Photoshop.

the model

The daughter of a good friend.  She was great.  Likely knew pretty much nothing about Lord of the Rings and the sword was kinda heavy for her but she was a trouper and trusted me.  

A more recent 'manly' photoshoot with a vintage 1956 Packard

#dramaticportrait #portrait #headshot #princess #sword #studiolighting #lightingsetup #LOR #lordoftherings

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Warrior Women

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 know that I’ve not done a perfect job on taking lighting into account and the edges are 'weak' 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

Posted by Martin in Blog, Portraits, 0 comments