Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but I think this old dog will hunt!

I spent most of last Saturday attending a portraiture workshop in Austin put on by well known commercial photographer, Kirk Tuck. Now I haven’t shot a portrait in nearly 20 years so it took a while for my rattled old brain to engage again and begin to remember those lessons I learned in the mid 70’s. Kirk’s teaching style was relaxed but organized as he ran us through the basics of a good two light headshot using different lighting modifiers like a diffusion panel, shoot through umbrella and a huge 6′ tall softbox.

Lena

Lena – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held using a Profoto strobe and 6′ soft-box. The exposure was taken at 100mm, f/5.6 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Next he brought in an incredibly talented makeup artist, Patrica de la Garza to teach us the finer points of why we really do need a good makeup artist for commercial headshots. Patricia did an incredible job with Lena (above) and her presentation really got me thinking.

Next Kirk brought in the renowned photojournalist and commercial photographer Will van Overbeek, to show us a completely different style of portrait work using nothing more than a single softbox and a seamless white background. Next Will demonstrated some very simple fill-flash techniques for environmental portraits done using a single speedlight.

Barbara

Barbara – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on manual (M) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens hand-held using a Profoto strobe and shoot-through umbrella for fill flash. The exposure was taken at 102mm, f/7.1 for 1/200th of a second at ISO 100. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 3 Beta and Photoshop CS4. Click on the image above for a larger version.

After the demonstrations it was time to put our newly acquired knowledge to the test. Honestly, I could have gotten a great shot of either Lena or Barbara using my old Argus C-4 (google it youngsters). Kirk, Will and Park Street had the lighting setup perfectly and all we had to do was “point & shoot” and not get in our own way. These two college kids (the Talent) were real troopers, standing patiently while we blasted them with enough photons from those Profoto strobes to cause mild sunburn.

It was a great workshop and a real nice change of pace for me personally. After teaching the Texas Landscape Safari for the past couple years it was nice just to sit back and enjoy a great refresher course in classic portraiture from some incredibly talented folks like Kirk, Patricia, Will and Park.

Kudos folks!

10 thoughts on “Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

  1. Pingback: Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program « Serious Amateur Photography

    • Hey Mark,

      I think I drove over Barton Creek on the way to the workshop. Does that count?

      It’s definitely harder than it looks. I shot Lena at 100mm f/5.6 and only her right eye was sharp. I honestly don’t remember ever having this shallow DOF back in the days of film.

      Jeff

  2. Very nice portraits of patient models. A change of pace keeps our brains active and young, too. 🙂

    Now you can take this knowledge with you out in the field for some more environmental portraits. You did say you wanted to have more people in your shots, right? I know Joe McNally does this with the landscape/nature tours he is on.

    • Thanks Scott but I’m not sure the world is ready for another crazy Irishman shooting portraits (or Laurie Excell’s hair for that matter) during a landscape seminar. There is only one Joe McNally.

      Jeff

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