Getting the Best Colors in Your Portraits

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Rokinon 50mm f1.2 portraits of Asta (4 of 4)ISO 2001-1000 sec at f - 1.0

Portraiture in photography is an art involving not only compelling composition and posing, but an effective use of color. Many photographers shoot in black and white because it makes the photographer rely more on shapes, lines, contrast, etc. But when it comes to color, things get more complicated. For example, have you ever had skin tones that just weren’t really working for you or doing your subject justice?

Chances are that you probably didn’t do these color tweaks that will absolutely work for every portrait you take.

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The Beauty of Fujifilm Natura 1600 Film


All images by Simon Chetrit. Used with permission.

“You’ve got to try this stuff,” says photographer Simon Chetrit to me the other night in his Williamsburg apartment. Then he hands me a small, colorful paper box. It’s Fujifilm Natura 1600–a film I’ve heard about and seen incredible images with, but have never had the pleasure of trying. The film, which is only manufactured and sold in Japan, is legendary for its excellent colors and fairly fine grain when it comes to a high ISO film.

Simon is known for shooting film and usually sticks to a Pentax 67, but when he had the chance to pick this stuff up he was immediately enamored of it.

Considering the images that he produced with them and keeping in mind that he’s working with film, we can totally see why.

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How Color Film Originally Rendered People of Color

Pro Tip: the latest emulsions of Kodak Portra were designed to be scanned. We recommend Portra 400 more than almost anything else out there.

Pro Tip: the latest emulsions of Kodak Portra were designed to be scanned. We recommend Portra 400 more than almost anything else out there.

The image above is from the modern emulsion of Kodak Portra 400. As you can see, it renders the shadows and the highlights pretty darn well. But it took a long time for film to get to this point.

Film, though still in use with some photographers today, wasn’t always so forgiving. The world originally worked with sepia and then black and white. When color film was developed, it didn’t have such a strong dynamic range according to an educational video recently produced by Vox. So in fact, the details in the faces of people of color (black, brown, etc.) were often very muddled. Indeed, Vox says (quite literally) in their video that it was originally developed for white people–and this problem happened between the 1940s and 1990s.

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Review: Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis (Sony FE)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.8 review product extras (6 of 6)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Portrait lenses: these two words can make a photographer’s heart melt when seen together. For years, Zeiss has dominated the portrait realm, though Sigma and Canon have had their share of lenses that sing. So when Zeiss released the first true portrait prime lens for the new Sony FE mount system, we knew that it had to be incredible. Indeed the Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis is a lens that can have that effect on you.

While this all sounds completely wonderful on paper, we needed to see if it really would make our jaws drop. Initially, we really thought it was something special. But did our love affair last? Or was this just another summer fling?

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Review: CineStill 800T film

Cinestill photo

If you had asked me years ago if I would be reviewing film in the year 2015, I probably would have laughed in your face. There is no way that a couple of years ago that any editor would have thought that a company would be making new film products. But indeed, there have been. CineStill, founded by the Brothers Wright photography team, have repacked Kodak cinema film by taking off a layer that makes it safe for typical C-41 processing. For CineStill 800T, the company gave us ISO 800 film that is Tungsten balanced–which means that it’s best used with a flash or daylight.

In my personal experience, ISO 800 film has been very grainy except when it’s Kodak Portra and pushed a stop. But in this case, CineStill has given us the finest grain 800 film I’ve ever seen.

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The Specifics of Editing Skin Tones in Adobe Lightroom

Chris Gampat Artistic Nudes and Tinder profile images (34 of 39)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 4.5

Editing portraits in Adobe Lightroom can be a daunting task sometimes, but the specific color channel tools can help you create a better image than simply just working with the basic adjustments. They can give you much more professional looking results and in reality, they’re very simple to work with. Before we begin to talk more about this though, we also recommend that you work with a calibrated monitor to get even better looking images and also have an easier time with editing.

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COLOR CHECKER: How To Get Perfect Skin Colors With Every Camera

Model: Lulu Geng

Model: Lulu Geng

One of the best kept secrets within the fashion and beauty photography is the way to obtain absolutely perfect and flawless skin colors, brightness and texture. That’s an art, absolutely, and often a quite technical challenge.

In this article I will explain how to obtain perfect skin colors, with the help of a ColorChecker. But not just a simple ColorChecker workflow with the standard, bundled software. No, there’s a neat trick which saves a lot of time and a lot of custom color editing (and desaturating) of skin tones.

It’s a quick, transparent automatic workflow, once set up and created. Your camera needs to shoot in RAW.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Hans van Eijsden’s Blog and has been republished with permission.

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