Hyperrealism In Editorial Photography
Drawing on my previous two sessions with Kara and Karlee – my new found knowledge in fashion-editorial photography was put to the test this week when I had Miss Tara back in the studio.
Our goal was to re-create and expand upon the latest Dior campaigns featuring Jennifer Lawrence – I must admit, these are absolutely fabulous compositions – a truly top-shelf campaign featuring one of the most beautiful women on the planet. No big deal, right?
I have often tried, albeit, unsuccessfully to replicate the hyperrealism of uber-high fashion photography, thinking that it was all facilitated with “nearly impossible to obtain on my budget” Hassleblad and Leica medium-format camera systems.
Indeed, some of these cameras cost upwards of $40,000 just for the body. Lenses? Well, those will set you back another $15,000 a piece. A piece! However, the results – can be, well – simply astonishing. Especially in print. They scream amazingness, and a certain level of “fashion”. Modernity. Coolness. Wowza.
However, I thought to myself: “Self! There has to be another way – surely, you can “fake” your way through a high-fashion, hyperrealistic photoshoot! You can make $10,000 of gear look like $55,000! Can’t you? No harm in trying!”
Here’s are the details:
First, you MUST have the lighting spot on. It was only by chance that one of my strobes misfired before I realized that a one-light setup, and controlled environment is really all you need.
Second, you need to know in absolute terms – the kind of look you want to achieve, both from your model and in the post-processing of the captures. The trick lies in developing an understanding of what your model is capable of, and how it translates in a picture. Every model is different. Light can hit their cheekbones very hard, or very softly. Even the angle and “side” of the face or body you choose to shoot makes all the difference in the end.
Lastly, one must be careful NOT to overdo it – across the board – while at the same time realizing that there really is no one specific way to achieve your goals. Especially when it comes to photography. However good you may be behind the lens – it’s only 1/2 the battle. Post-processing, and proper post-processing is where the gold lies.
Indeed – as I have said many times – so much of what you see in published works, whether it is in Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Playboy, a billboard – virtually everything – is done “in-post”, and without exception. It is why Adobe is such a household name, along with Lightroom and Photoshop.
I’ll walk you through the materials and settings I used to capture the photo you see in this blog post. It is, in my opinion, the first true hyperrealistic, magazine quality, uber-high fashion image I have ever taken that I am completely, and truly satisfied with. Try it out for yourself!
Background + Lighting
- Savage Universal Black #20 Paper Background
- 1x Elinchrom D-Lite 4it Studio Strobe at 5.0 (about 5/6 power)
- 1x Elinchrom Portalite 26”x26” Softbox
- Light was placed 5’ from model at 8’ high, 40 degree down angle
Camera, Lens + Camera Settings
- Canon EOS 6D
- Canon 24-105 F/4 L @ 85mm
- 1/100 Shutter Speed
- F/11 Aperture
- ISO 100
- Spot Focus Metering
- Custom White Balance
Lightroom + Photoshop Processing
Well, some things are best kept under wraps! Don’t you agree? I certainly can tell you that there was a minimal amount of processing required to generate this image, and the others like it in the set. Basic colour correction in Lightroom: lens corrections along with minor exposure and contrast tweaks. The majority of the high impact contrast in fact comes from intelligent use of the “Clarity” slider in Lightroom, which is a sort of an amalgam of clarity, sharpness, moire, and noise/despeckle adjustments. Be careful not to overdo it with the adjustments. It is the most key factor in achieving this type of look. Clean up the image with the clone, heal, dodge and burn tools in Photoshop, export as ProFoto RGB, and blammo!
Overall, I am exceedingly pleased with the results from my latest shoot. I cannot thank enough, my wonderful partner in crime, Miss Tara for all of her hard work and research into making this shoot a reality. Coupled with my eagerness to experiment with lighting, and the 1 in a 1000 chance that my strobe misfired – I think the results speak for themselves.
Want to get hyperrealistic? Here’s the real deal:
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t be afraid of working in Lightroom. And most importantly, use the knowledge you have gained from your previous efforts to step in to the unknown, and get the look and feel you always wanted.
After all, I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.
I hope you enjoy the photography.
View Tara’s Full Set By Clicking Here.