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Archive for the ‘Photo Editing’ Category

Dodging and Burning Julia


Recently I did a model shoot with Julia, a native of Ukraine who has just moved to our country. Regular readers will be familiar with the style of “beauty” headshots that I take, with the model looking straight ahead at the camera and soft, flattering light.

Sometimes the lighting is – well – too soft.  Then, in Photoshop, I’ll do some dodging (lightening) and burning (darkening). The terms “dodging and burning” come from the good old days of film and refer to making contrast adjustments to certain areas of a print in the development process in the darkroom.

Look at these too versions of the same image. In the first one, above, I did the dodging and burning. The version below is without those changes. The difference is pretty subtle – you can see it around her eyes and cheeks.


Be sure to click on each image to view it in a LARGER and CLEARER size. The colors are truer in the larger size as well.

The idea is to add a little depth and drama. As with most retouching, a little bit goes a long way. Which of these versions do you like better? I’d love to hear from you!


Here’s another image, with the dodging and burning applied.

My technique for this, which I learned from Scott Kelby of kelbyone.com, involves using two curves layers, one greatly darkened and one lightened. Then, with a soft “brush” at low opacity, on fully masked layers, gently adding light to highlight areas and darkening the shadow areas.

Thanks, Julia, for a great shoot!  Here’s one last photograph, the fashion image below, showing Julia’s great smile.

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”


Deal Toys

CMM cover image.-1100px-jpg

Recently, I did some photography for Carter Morse & Mathias, a boutique investment bank based in Southport, Connecticut. Part of that project was creating the image above.  (Click on the image to see it in a LARGER size.)

You may be familiar with “tombstone” ads that appear in the financial press – announcements of deals such as mergers, acquisitions and stock offerings. A “deal toy” is a Lucite block of a tombstone ad – the ones pictured here are about 5 x 7 inches. The client wanted to represent as many of the deal toys as possible, in order to project the breadth of their experience over nearly 30 years in business.


This shows how I set up the shot. I used light blue paper as the background. The camera was set fairly close to deal toys – more about that below – fitted with a very wide angle lens. The lighting was all from one “strip box”  placed over the camera – a long, skinny softbox which produced the dramatic lighting.

This all seems pretty simple, right? But it took about 2 hours to set this image up. I’d take a test shot, then see that one of the Lucites had to be moved a fraction of an inch in one direction. I’d move it, then take another test shot.

There were two interesting challenges here.

First, the deal toys were shiny, so I had to figure out how to light them in such a way that we could see their reflective nature but not hide the lettering on each deal toy with reflections from the light source. Having the strip light set up high achieved this and also provided the dramatic lighting the client desired.

Second, we wanted to feature the main deal toy in a large size and have the others taper off on each side to much smaller sizes. To achieve this, I used a very wide angle lens, set quite close (about 18 inches)  to central deal toy. It is a 12-24mm Sigma zoom lens, set here at 13mm. This is very wide, almost in the “fisheye” range, which causes a fair amount of distortion on the sides of the frame. The Lucites were bending sharply at the edges – not good! I straightened them all out in Photoshop so everything lined up vertically.


Here’s the view from behind the camera. The sturdy tripod kept the image sharp. The little gizmo on top of the camera triggered the flash.

341 Studios, a marketing and graphic design firm based in Darien, Connecticut, did the website design for Carter Morse & Mathias. To match the image to the home page of the firm’s website, 341 Studios made some further refinements to the photograph. See how the final image looks on the firm’s website at Carter Morse & Mathias.

This was a challenging but fun learning experience – I’m now ready to shoot more deal toys!

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”


iPhone Picture Quality

by Blake Robinson

October 20th, 2014    0 Comments     Add Comment
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This photo was taken on my new iPhone 6 on Sunday, in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The cameras in smartphones are getting better and better, and it’s easy to take this for granted. But I continue to marvel at the quality of the pictures that can be taken by phones.

See some of the whizzbang specs on the new iPhone here.

Please click on the picture to see it in a LARGER size. And even in the larger size, my blog provider still shrinks the size of the image (number of pixels). The actual image is much sharper and clearer than you see here.

For client work, I’ll continue to use my heavy Nikon cameras and lenses – and phones will never be able to compete with DSLR cameras. But as the old saying goes, “the best camera is the one you have with you.”  We  mostly always have our phones with us.

I liked the composition in this image – some of which was unintentional – or perhaps serendipitous. For example, I didn’t notice the blue plastic chair in the lower left, but it provides a nice contrast in scale to the tree – and a place to sit to enjoy a beautiful Fall day.

Working both in the studio and on location, photographer Blake Robinson serves the Connecticut communities of Darien, New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport and Greenwich.

“Individual, Indelible, Iconic Images”