Rikke Grubb Carlsen - Post processing

I'm processing the photographs I took of Rikke Grubb Carlsen the other day. When selecting photos for post processing I try to find those that I feel expresses the personality of the model best. Hopefully she will pick some of my work to be part of her portfolio.

Here are two post processed photos from the same source. The third is the original. Which do you like the most?


And here is another photo I post processed yesterday.

Shadows - Day 31

I've always been fascinated by shadows. This time of the year the sun is low on the horisont most of the day and hence casting long shadows. Photographed today at 13.03 pm in Lyngby. I've added a heavy grain.

Later this afternoon I passed this group og pigeons trying to get warm by the up flow of warm air form the underground. The Siberian cold is hitting Denmark in the coming days.


It's Cold - Day 30

A snapshot from "Strandvejen" driving from Copenhagen up north towards where I live. Today was a fantastic beautiful day with blue sky, sunshine and wind - which made the minus 1 degree feel like minus 10 degrees (C).

Nikon D300 with AF 20mm f/2.8. ISO 200. Exposure: 1/320 af f/11.

Rikke Grubb Carlsen - Day 29

Today was an exiting as my friend Frederiks Bisbjerg and I had rented a photo studio and agreed with a couple of models to do a shoot. Eventhough we rented a photo studio we did also bring a lot of flash equipment our self - and we ended up using all the stuff we brought.

We took several hundred photos and I will be posting more of those over the coming days. But it is late now and I'll just post the lovely high key portrait of Rikke Grubb Carlsen.

We use a flash to get the high ley back drop and an Elinchrom Beauty Dish with Diffuser from above her face and an Elinchrom Strip Light with Diffuser from beneath to create the traditional clamshell setup - as you also can see from the catch light in her eyes.

Peter Vilsøe - Day 28

Saturday evening I visited my friend Peter Vilsøe and together with another friend - Robert Erichsen - we prepared a nice dinner and drank a lot of very good wine.

The photo is a "snap shot" taken with my Nikon D300 and a AF 50mm f/1.4 lens. I used a Lightscoop Standard flash bouncer and thereby soften the harsh flash light by bouncing it to the ceiling and back again. The flash EV was +1.0 and camera exposure was 1/60 sec at f/1.8.

The photo is SOOC - Straight Out of Camera. With this I hope to prove the soft light and pleasing skin tones a flash bouncer like Lightscoop can produce.


Knife & Chili - Day 27

A boring still life photo.

I needed to test a reverse mounting of my camera on a tripod - so instead of the camera hovering above the three legs of the tripod, it was now hanging between the legs (that sounds as something else) enabling a clean and plan photo of the subject placed on the floor directly under the main axis of the tripod.
I was handholding two Speedlights (SB-600 and SB-900) controlled with PWs. The power of the flash units was managed by the PocketWizard AC3 unit (SB-900 = Group A / SB-600 = Group B). The camera was set to time lapse release of 5 sec and I used my cable release Nikon MC-36 to focus and release the camera which gave me time to drop the cable release a grab the flash units before they went of.

Nikon D300, AF 50mm f/1.4D - ISO 200
Exposure: 1/125 at f/11 with 0 EV


Histogram Magic - Day 26

It is no secret that I'm a huge fan of LR3. I estimate that 85% of all my photo editing is done in LR3, whereas Photoshop CS5 is used in situations where I have to work with layers or specific portrait enhancement.

When we sometimes (or often) has to capture a scene in a haste then it is not always possible to optimize the shooting settings. But as long as we shoot in RAW then we retain the possibility to optimize on-site shooting conditions at our desk back home.

Here is a good example. This photo was captured on the way home from a meeting today and while driving my car I noticed this sky with those nice cloud formations and colors. So I pulled the car of the road, rolled down the window and stabilized my camera on the door frame. I didn't have time to think much about the correct shooting settings, but just dialed in a suitable shutter speed and aperture value in Manual mode. 

As you can see the white balance is wrong and the exposure is not correct. The corresponding histogram looks like this:

Clearly the exposure is distorted to the dark side and lacking more dynamic area in the middle tones.

After some tweeking in LR3 I came up with this photo. It is evident that the white balance has been corrected (using the White Balance Selector tool). The histogram also displays a much more balanced distribution between dark and light areas.


Self Portrait - Day 25

Today I couldn't find any inspiration or ideas for the daily photograph. I'm tired after 2 hours of spinning and I have a cold. Hmfffff.

So I Chose to test the Lightscoop Warm flash bouncer unit together with a Nikon MC-36 remote cable release unit attached to my Nikon D300. In this way I could position my self in front of the camera and auto focus by pressing the "release" botton on the MC-36 and take the photo by pressing full. A very smart little cable release unit this Nikon MC-36.

This photo was captured with my iPhone 4 - hence the bad quality due to difficult light situation. As you can see the Lightscoop Warm is placed in the flash hotshoe and the harsh flash light is reflected to the left where is bounced on a white book shelf. This will ofcourse result in lesser light than if the flash light had bounced from the white ceiling. The only way to show the Nikon MC-36 was to wrap it around the flash head :-)

This is the photograph - I must apologize for my appearance but here we go. In LR3 I dropped the saturation a bit and made a few other small corrections (needed :-) )-


Art & Architecture - Day 24

Another day with interesting meetings. While visiting central Copenhagen for a meeting I walked to the nearby Skuespilhus - (House of Acting) - an architectural master piece placed alongside the harbour front and just opposite the even more impressive Opera building. The sun was shining from a blue sky and the temperature was minus 1 degree C. Perfekt weather for photographing.

Shooting against the sun is often difficult, but by watching the histogram for highlight clippings and dialing in the right amount of EV I managed to get a decent photograph where it was only necessary to add some light to the shadow areas. Otherwise only sharpening has been applied.

Nikon D300 with AF 20mm f/2.8D. ISO 200.
Exposure: 1/800 af f/11 - 1/3 EV


Art on Display - Day 23

Another day where I'm testing an old lens. This time it is a ELICAR Automatic MC f=135mm 1:2.8 with serial number 800649 - Nikon F-mount. I can't find much information about this lens other that is was manufactured by Komine - a Japanese lens maker - and it should be extremely sharp. The build quality is very good and the lens comes with a built in lens hood.

My Nikon D300 with the lens was mounted on a tripod and the Nikon cable release MC-36 was connected to the D300. Again I used "Mirror Up" mode for optimal sharpness. To the right of the subject I placed a SB-900 with a 1/2 CTB (I just love this gel) and a narrow beam honeycomb from Honl Photo. The flash was fired with a PW's. In manual mode I chose a shutter of /125 sec and then played around with the aperture ring on the lens while gazing at the display for clippings. WB was set to Cloudy (warm in contrast to the blue gel) and ISO to 200. After some experimenting I dialed in -2/3 EV and hit the right exposure.

I must say I find this lens generates a very sharp photo and there is no vignetting at all. It could become a perfect portrait lens!


Dyrehaven - Day 22

When buying old Nikon SLR's you also have a chance to get an interesting lens as part of the kit. One such lens is the Nikon Series E 100 f/2.8. It's a manual focus lens.

I mounted the lens on my Nikon D300 and went out shooting with tripod to test the Mirror Up (MU) function together with the Nikon MC-36 cable release. Shooting with MU should in theory give sharper photos because the shutter is not introducing any vibration when moving up. I must admit when studying a photo taken without MU and a photo with MU - I can't see the difference. Maybe its the lens - maybe its me?! 

My subject was a tree that still had a lot of apples eventhough it's winter. It's as if the tree wont realize winter has come.

My next subject was "Dyrehaven" - a park close to my home. Again the D300 with the 100mm f/2.8 Series E lens and the Nikon MC-36 cable release was mounted on a tripod. 

Both photos received some post processing in LR3 and the latter also a 6:18 Tone Blue Seim Effect.

Here is my setup :-)


Winter has finally arrived - Day 21

It's my daughters birthday today and we are going into town to have a nice dinner at restaurant Le Le. The photo of the day is yet again a local scenery from the area close to my home. Winter has finally arrived and we experienced the first snow fall today.

Earlier today we visited a fantastic photo exhibition at the Louisiana Museum. The artist the world famous photographer Andreas Gursky. Recently one of Andreas Gursky's photograph - Rhein II - was sold as the most expensive ever - I think the price was $5 mio. Seeing this photo on a web page or in a book just doesn't give it the needed justification. In real life it is a HUGE photo and then you just "see" the photo in a different way. I'm impressed with how Andreas Gursky's large color photographs encapsulate our world.

Frederik Bisbjerg portrait - Day 20

The best way to learn how to shoot with small flash is to experiment in the field. My good friend Frederik and I share a passion for shooting with Nikon Speedlight with various light modifiers and PocketWizards.

I won't go to much into details but just recommend that you team up with a friend and then start to play with light setup, modifiers, gels and positioning of the model in the surroundings you have chosen. It's lot of fun.

Nikon D300 with Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. Exposure: 1/40 sec at f/2.8 (ISO 400)

The first photo is SOOF - Straight Our Of Camera - no post processing in LR! It just shows how well a photo can be done "in camera" if all settings are correct. And light plays a major role in getting a photo sharp also. I have added no sharpening at all. And this is captured with a Nikon D300 - (12 MP sensor!) at ISO 400.

Nikon D300 with Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm f/4. Exposure: 1/60 sec at f/8.0 (ISO 400)

The second photo has been post processed a bit in LR3. I've added sharping and noise reduction together with some clarity. That's all.
With both photos I find that the light is falling just right (SB-900 with a 1/2 CTO reflected from an umbrella) adding nice shadows and the 1/2 CTO is adding a nice warmth to the skin.

Crash - Day 19

It's kind of symbolic. After my "reset" from professional work life, both my iPhone and now also my MacBook Pro chose to malfunction to a degree that a 100% system installation was necessary.

One thing is an Iphone - but a total different issue is when your computer is experiencing a total system melt down. The blue screen you see on the photo is the one thing you don't wont to see when starting your PC. I even tried re-installing from a week old Time Machine back up, but that didn't work either (the full backup including applications and data was transfered but still - blue screen after reboot. So I had to find my original OS DVD - insert it and press and hold "c" down to initiate a reboot from the DVD and then go through the hassle of first installing OS X Leopard and then OS X Lion (3 hours). Now finally I have re-installed all applications, presets in LR, etc. Unfortunately I lost one week of work including a lot of photos. I grabbed my Nikon D300 with shaking hands at turned it on to check the content of the flash card. Luckily I hadn't erased the app. 200 portrait photos I took of a friend of mine for her website. They where still in the camera flash card. Normally I delete photos on the flash card right after I've imported them to LR. Lesson learned = Time Machine back up every day! I'm even doubling my photo backup now, so I do it every day on two external hard drives.

By the way - if you are in the need of an external hard drive - I have a great offer on a 2 TB WD external hard drive here in my little web shop (Danish customers only).


Portrait Shoot for a website - Day 18

Today I was on a photo assignment. One of my friends has asked me to photograph a portrait for a website. Hence we need a green back drop to make all but the person transparent. I made the green back drop out of 9 pieces af A3 sized paper (total cost $14). In Photoshop I will then erase the green back drop. More about this technique in another article - I'm currently improving my skills for this process in CS5.

Here you can see my home studio set-up:

I use two Elinchrom D-Lite flash units - one with a rim light softbox (200w) and one with a beauty dish with diffuser (400w). At some point I had even a SB-900 and a SB-600 included in the set-up and controlled through PocketWizards. In the camera hot shoe the remote tricker for both the Elinchrom flash units and the PocketWizards where mounted.

For this photo I removed the green back drop and used a platin colored back drop.

I'm satisfied with the light distribution. There are two catch lights in her eyes - one from the softbox and one from the beauty dish. I placed the beauty dish above her head to create shadows on one side of her face.


PELI Hard Case - Day 17

When you are feeling blue then buy something :-) I just bought this fantastic hard case model 1450 from PELI so I can carry my photo equipment in a protective manner and even ship it with air as the case can be locked.

The PELI 1450 hard case is medium size and it is sold in two versions - one with foam and one with padded dividers (as the one in the photo). So how much equipment did I manage to put into this hard case:

1 x AF-S 18-70mm f/3.4-4.5G ED DX
1 x AF-S 12-24mm f/4G ED DX
1 x AF-S 60mm f/2.8G ED
1 x AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX
1 x AF 50mm f/1.4D
2 x PocketWizard FlexTT5
1 x PocketWizard MiniTT1
1 x SB-600
1 x SB-900 with Diffuser and Gels
1 x Nikon GP-1 GPS 
1 x Nikon MS-D10 (battery unit for MB-D10)
3 x Lens Hoods
1 x SC29 TTL Sync cable
1 x MH-18a Quick Charger with power cable
1 x Sekonic Flasmate L-308S
1 x Eclipse Optic Cleaning System 
1 x Dust Blower
3 x Compact Flash Cards

Pretty impressive!
The market price for such a hard case is app. $300. I need another one for my cameras :-)

I know this was not a very artistic photograph, but I thought is was a nice new piece of hardware.


An Old Tree - Day 16

Walking with my dog Lucca today I passed this old tree. I just felt that this photograph would fit this Blue Monday - the worst day in a year according to a scientist.

Nikon D300, AF-S 18-70mm f/3.4-4.5G ED, 800 ISO, 65mm, 1/30 sec at f/4.5, hand held.


Color Gels - Day 15

Today I've made a test of all the color gels that was delivered with the HONL kit of light modifies for Nikon Speedlight. Here is the set I bought:

All items fit into a small black bag. It contains two large modifies in gold, silver and black that can be shaped like a snoot or a bounce card, a smaller light modified in silver, two barn doors in white and gold, two honeycomb grids, two speedstraps and a set of color gels - two of each color. 

Lovely Ladies - Day 14

Yesterday we celebrated Vivi's 46th birthday. Three couples came and made this an unforgettable evening and night. The party ended at 04.00AM in the morning and I will not publish photo from the evening as it progressed from intelligent conversation at the dinner table to tribal dances and beer drinking competition between the male participants of the party.

The photo of the day is three lovely ladies ready to celebrate and party.

Nikon D300 with AF-S 18-80mm f/3.5-4.5G ED DX lens, ISO 200, Flash, Manual, SB-900 mounted in the hot shoe with diffuser.


Nikon F3 - Day 13

May I present my beloved Nikon F3. My ambition today was to create a kind of advertising look using only one light source - a Nikon SB-900 - and using a narrow beam to highlight the product and making the surroundings visible but not distracting for the viewer. Fot that purpose I used a honey comb Speed Grid from and had to take a lot of shots to hit the right angle and distance of the flash beam (Photo 1 + 2). In photo 3 i removed the grid and used the SB-900 w/o any light modified thereby enhancing the surroundings and making the books part of the story.

My favorite is photo 2 - but what do you think?

Nikon D300 w. 50mm f/1.4D, ISO 200, Flash WB, 1/60 sec at f/9.0, 0EV, SB-900 w. Nikon SC-29 TTL cord, TTL BL mode.


Soft Light - Day 12

Many phone calls, sms's, email's and FB messages today after my exit from Strålfors has become public. I'm especially happy that many of my colleagues has shown their sympathy towards my situation.

My mood has been switching between high and low during the day - resulting in a headache. So the photo of the day is nothing special - not that my wife isn't a special person - from a photographic point of view. I took one Elinchrom D-Lite 4, set it to power 5.0 and mounted a white umbrella diffuser. In manual mode I chose a shutter speed of 1/125 and the light meter told me to use f/22 (at ISO 200). I'm satisfied with the soft spread of the light and the soft shadow behind Vivi. In LR3 I just added +30 clarity and some sharpening.

Let's see what tomorrow will bring.


Goodbye Strålfors - Day 11

Today is a sad day for me. After a little over 3 years as managing director for Strålfors Information Logistics A/S in Denmark my tenure is coming to an end. End January I'll leave the company and look for new challenges. I won't elaborate on this decision right now, but just say that it has been three fantastic years where we took an ailing company in a industry facing a tough time and turned it all around into a profitable company with a bright future. 

Yesterday I signed the biggest contract ever for Strålfors in Denmark and with that contract on board many exiting opportunities will arise for Strålfors and all the good and competent people working there. 

The role as country manager has been redefined as of January 2012 and my task has been completed. The ailing patient is doing well and a very capable management team can manage Strålfors in Denmark from this point. Good luck to all of my dear Strålfors Denmark colleagues. It has been a privilege working together with you and I'm proud of what we have achieved.

The photo I took with my iPhone today. It is an old building called "Templet" in Lyngby. I took the liberty and exchanged the word "Templet" with "EXIT.  Strålfors has been my temple for the past 3 years - now it is time to look for a new temple.


A hidden message - Day 10

My photo today is hiding a secret message. I can't reveal is today, but maybe tomorrow.

Anyhow - it is the Danish business newspaper Børsen and an iPad with a dark screen. A Elinchrom D-Lite it 4 with a beauty dish (power 3) is the sole light source and you can see part of the beauty dish reflected in the ipad.

I used a grey card to set the correct white balance and a light meter to set the correct exposure (f/14 at 1/200 - ISO 200), but found that I could enhance the beauty dish reflection by stepping down by to stops to f/11.


Beauty Dish Exercise - Day 9

Now here is a man who need serious help from a beauty dish :-) In the need of a model (normally my daughter - but she is with her boyfriend - not to be disturbed) I had to step in myself. 

Setting the camera on a 10 second timer allowed me to jump into place before the shot. Again I'm using a white wall in my home as a back drop. A rim light (Elinchrom D-Lite it 2 (power 1.5) with a Elinchrom Rotalux EL-strip 33 x 175 cm) is used to light up the back of my arm and shoulder and my neck and hair on the left side. A beauty dish (Elinchrom D-Lite it 4 (power 2.0) with a Elinchrom Minisoft-44 Beauty Dish with diffuser is adding a catch light in my eyes and a soft light on my face and body fronting the light.

The Nikon D300 was on 1/125 f/13 (ISO 200) as the digital light meter told me it should be (you can see it hanging around my neck - very much like a pro photographer :o) ). I was hoping for a darker wall as I'm placed 1.5 meter from the wall and the meter reading here was f/9. Two stops should be enough to turn the wall darker - or what? Anyone have input here?


Lightscoop Warm test - Day 8

Today I wanted to play with a Lightscoop Warm flash bouncer, which is a simple divice placed in the camera's flash hot shoe so that the harsh (cold) light from the flash is directed away from the model towards either the ceiling or a wall - preferably white - so that the returning light is much softer (warm).

I placed my model Camilla on a chair beside a white wall. I'm holding my camera vertical so the flash light is bounced into the wall and then reflected back onto Camilla's left side.



Photo 1: Using only the built in flash of my Nikon D300. As you can see the light is harsh and blue (cold). 

Photo 2: Mounting the Lightscoop Warm flash bouncer and using the same settings is clearly warming up the photo. The effect is big here as Camilla is only 30 cm from the wall. The normal distance to the reflecting surface would be 1.5 - 2.0  meters which would remove the orange color cast from the wall. 

Photo 3: Make a few adjustments in LR3 improved the photo but it is still the original warming of the photo that dominates the look and feel.

Photo 4: Here I have just added a preset called "Mocca" and I like this version a lot, so this is my "Day 8" photo.

Please remember this is just me playing around with my equipment. This is the only way to learn how to use all of your equipment in the best way in different situations. I really like how the Lightscoop Warm turns cold blue flash light into a warm light that is much more suited for skin tones.


Vivi & Christian - Day 7

Saturday is a perfect day to play with photo equipment. Today I wanted to use my newly acquired Elichrome D-Lite it kit and my son Christian and wife Vivi was happy to pose as models.

Here is the basic set-up. I used a white wall as back drop and lit it with a 200w D-Lite it 2 (power 2.5). A 400w D-Lite it 4 (power 2.7) was mounted with a Elinchrom Minisoft 44 beauty dish with diffuser. On my D300 I mounted the ELS Transmitter ECO to remotely control the flash units. A Sekonic Flashmate L-308S was used to set the correct exposure data. I chose a shutter speed of 1/125 and the resulting aperture was f/14.

On the first test photo Vivi has holding a grey card and I used this to set the correct white balance and then sync all other photos with that WB setting in LR3.

My D300 was set to RAW at ISO 200 and mounted with AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D. The resulting file size was 13 MB and I cropped it slightly which reduced the size to 12 MB. The camera was hand held. In Lightroom I only added Clarity (+44) and sharpening. 

Using a digital light meter is a new experience for me, but I'm stunned by the result. No use to adjust exposure in LR3 at all!

Two more photos from the same shoot.



it 87 - Day 6

Again I'm focusing on geometrical symmetry, signs, symbols and color. This is part of a container situated close to my  work. At lunch time I crapped my D300 and went outside as an image has started to appear in my mind after passing this container every day for a long period. I like the mono color look with variant of green and rust in between. The letters "it" and number "87" is a nice geometrical breaker making the photo more appealing.

Technical stuff: Nikon D300 with AF-S 20mm f/2.8D - 1/160 sec at f/4.0 - 0EV- ISO 200- no flash. Lines has been straightened in CS5, where I also added a Multiply layer (70%) and a High Pass filter (strength 5).


Go to Copenhagen - Day 5

This photo was captured with my iPhone 4s. Post processing in Snapseed for iPad.

I was on my way to two hours of indoor cycling (BodyBike) and passed this sign in a gang way under the train tracks. It's funny how people start to look when the see someone taking picture of something utterly uninteresting - in their view. But I "see" the potential looking at the various elements and seeing that they do form a geometrical symmetry that I find pleasing for the mind.