My top 7 images in the last 10 years.
#7 “Forgive Me”
Taken November of 2011.
In studio with 7D 70-200 2.8L
Number seven of my top seven photographs that I’ve taken in the last ten years will begin with the image: “Forgive Me.”
I met the subject at a wedding reception that I was photographing in 2011. I was sitting next to him at the table and thought he looked very similar to Russell Crowe or Bruce Springsteen. After the wedding, I kicked myself for not asking him to stop by the studio so I can photograph him. Probably an odd request for a first meeting, but to quote Brooks Jensen, “When you see it, photograph it.” Later, I emailed the bride with a formal image of the family and circled his face and asked her is he lives in the area or nearby, hoping it was not a very far destination. The bride let me know that he lives in Wahpeton; which is only around a 45-minute drive. She let me know that he is kind of camera shy.
I contacted him and asked that the next time he would be in Fargo, he should stop by my studio for a quick photoshoot. He mentioned that he would probably be back up around Thanksgiving. I told him to wear exactly what he did for the wedding (black vest and a white shirt). I got the call a month later telling me he was available. I set up the studio for a dark backdrop and some dramatic lighting. I knew I wanted some low-key moments. He seemed so much like a musician, that I wanted to include a guitar, but nothing was going to top a close up of the man’s face.
After the session was done, I remember uploading the files onto my computer immediately to find the best ones. Being selective is very important in the process of photography. You should only pick out the best photographs and spend your time on those few images. While Photoshop is an important and powerful tool, I try to spend as little time using the program as possible. Although I know Photoshop well, I don’t use it to fix technical photography problems. Instead, I use it to draw out the natural strengths of the photograph.
Now, for the technical side of the photoshop process:
This image was the one that I knew I would be working on. I started to work on the lighter shirt (shoulder area) as it took your attention away from his face. There are a few ways to correctly dodge and burn an image. As long as it’s non-destructive, you’re fine. One way is with separate curve adjustment layers and another way is to duplicate a layer using D/B.
I tend to do it a different non-destructive way. I use a medium size, soft edge brush in Photoshop to dodge and burn. By simply creating a new layer titled: “Dodge_Burn” and setting it to Overlay for the layer blend mode, I’m almost ready to lighten (dodge) or darken (burn) the image non-destructively. One last thing I do is fill in that layer with 50% gray. With Overlay chosen, 50% gray is ignored and will seem like nothing is over the image. Then I set my Foreground color to black, and paint over the areas in the photo that need to be darkened. If you try this method, and you accidentally paint over areas you didn’t mean to you can choose the color picker icon and type a value of 128 for the R, G and B options in the Color Picker panel or #808080 which will give you the 50% gray color.
I decided to extend his vest and that way the attention again doesn’t go where it is unwanted. I dodged and burned his face, and hair to my liking and finally went through Silver Efex Pro 2 (a program you’ll hear many times in the next 7 weeks) to give it an overall deep feeling falling upon his face.
I printed it on true black and white paper and it has hung on the walls of a downtown Fargo art gallery and has been shown at the PPA Imaging USA Convention Center in Atlanta, GA.
- This received a Merit in the PPA District competition in 2012
- It was also an Editors choice for NAPP in Feb. of 2012.
Alternative image below: