Four Winds Photography's Blog

Adriene Then

Considering this shoot is over a year old I am the first to admit that it is really outdated.  But, hopefully, combined with the page about Adrienne now, you will consider it helpful, if not timely.  About a year ago I received a call from this delightful young lady that wanted a Senior shoot and she wanted it with her horse, Beau, that “was a big part of her life”.

The shoot was to be at Five Star Stables , where she boarded. It you want to look at the link to that stable you can see the trees at the top of the photo of their facility. If you don’t want to, just understand there is a creek with a lot of trees to the west of the barn. I scheduled the shoot for 5 PM in the afternoon to get great low late-afternoon light from the west.

Here is what we started with: This is looking west into the sun.  I metered the light with my hand held incident meter and set up my Qbox 24 for my main light.  Right here is a perfect example of why I use a hand held incident meter. I have talked about this before. With this dark of a background, had I used my in-camera meter, I would have had horribly overexposed images.  I, of course, could have taken a shot, looked at the image and histogram and “chimped”.  And do this repeatedly until I got a proper exposure.  And then repeated with my flash.  But why?

As you can tell from the opening image, above,  I set up my softbox camera left.  This entire photoshoot was done with my Canon 5D and most of it with my Canon 24-105 F/4L IS.  Some of it was with my 100 F/2.  My softbox was fitted with a Metz 58AF.

As I said, I metered the gorgeous light coming through the trees and got, at ISO 200 and sync speed (1/200th second) about F/2.  I wanted about 2 stops difference between the background light and my main light so I wanted to set up my flash/softbox for F/4.  Fortunately, when I metered my flash at full power about as close as I could get my light that is the reading I got.  Whew!  Actually, if you were to see a lot of the images from this shoot to get the power I needed from my flash I had the light stand too close and it had to either be cropped or cloned out of the image!  Like this (in this one, obviously, my VAL (voice activated lightstand (wife)) was positioning the softbox to the right:

A quick plug for the Qbox 24.  It is just a great, reasonably priced, portable softbox with gorgeous soft light for outdoor shoots such as this.  It folds up to almost nothing.  And what really sealed the deal for me is the rare (nowadays) customer service that the company’s owner, Edward, provides.  I can’t remember what issue I had with my softbox when I first got it but Edward resolved it immediately.  And when I first contacted him about his product I  needed it for some shoot coming up.  Not this one.  Of course, I waited until the last minute but didn’t want to pay for expedited shipping.  It seems that I had just clicked “Confirm Payment” on Paypal and UPS was at my door.  Edward made a point of getting it out same day to make sure that I had it.

But back to the shoot.  Here are a bunch of images from the shoot, all using the same lighting system, just metering and adjusting as the evening went on.














This is the one that she used for her Senior billfolds:







These two, obviously, were with just available light:








Kind of strange for a horse shooter to favorite a couple without a horse but these are two of my favorites from the shoot:



A few comments about the post processing on these.  I really haven’t spoken about post processing before except as it relates to shooting high ISO and with LR.  So here is just brief synopsis about my work with Photoshop.  I am NOT a Photoshop expert by any stretch of the imagination.  As with any portrait (especially with a young girl!) some post processing had to be done.  And I shoot in RAW.  So my files are, by definition, pretty flat and require post processing.  But here is a screen shot of Photoshop CS4 with my opening file and you can see the layers that I used.

As we go through this I will refer you to the layers panel above.  Here is what we stated with.  For this particular photo I wanted to have it bridle-less.  Pretty girl but I wanted to reduce the “squinting” creases under her eyes and whiten her teeth.  I have told you how I rely on my hand held meter but I think her skin and dress are just a little “hot”.  I want to tone that down ever so slightly.  And lastly I just want to increase the overall contrast ever so slightly.

So here is what we started with:

The first thing that I wanted to do was “clone out” the bridle. If you look at the layers panel above you can see the first copy that I made of the background layer and then named it to reflect this.

Next thing I did was clone the “No bridle” layer and then smoothed out the lines under her eyes. I, of course, didn’t want them completely gone so I gave this an opacity of 73 or so %.

Next thing I did was just “tone down” a little bit her dress and skin.

Then I whitened her teeth. I used a saturation layer and took it all the way to B&W. You will see that there is a layer mask with this layer. I made the entire image B&W making her teeth very white. Then I masked out the entire image except her teeth. Then I adjusted the opacity to where her teeth were an appropriate “whiteness” with out looking fake.

Finally, a curves adjustment and we have the “final product”:

Again, this was such a fun shoot. Some months afterward I got the following very sad email from Adrienne.

“Hey Ron!

I just thought I should let you know that I had to put Beau down recently. She stopped eating one night and when the test results came back a few days later, we found that her kidneys were failing. So the only sensible choice was to put her down and allow her to die peacefully and in a dignified manner

I didn’t tell you this to darken your day, but rather to thank you. Everyone remarked, when they heard of Beau’s death, how lucky I was to have beautiful photos taken of her and I. I just wanted to thank you once more for working so hard to make the photos as fabulous as they are. I don’t have any photos of Beau like the ones you took for my senior photos. Thank you so much for giving me a visual so I can continue to remember and cherish the memories of Beau and I together. I truly do appreciate all the time and effort you put in to making my senior pictures an amazing success!

Thanks again,

Just glad I was able to do this and she so enjoyed them.

As you saw from the opening blog Adrienne acquired a mustang and asked me to shoot her with him.  Go here to see what Adrienne is up to this year.


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