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Experimental Portraiture

Lesson 3 of 14

Experimenting with Foreground Elements

Jeremy Cowart

Experimental Portraiture

Jeremy Cowart

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Lesson Info

3. Experimenting with Foreground Elements

Lesson Info

Experimenting with Foreground Elements

Why did they introduce my classroom quick? I forgot to do that earlier. Apologised with each creativelive class. They do. They allow, um an in person in person, audience. And so we have. I'm not Remember the last time that we remember the first name's Jeremy. Where you from again? Came all the way in front from New Mexico for this. Christie, Were you from again? Monroe, Washington, Monroe, Washington. Nice. Stephen. Where you see out the at home. Local cool, local get can end season, of course. Roseanne. Yes. I'm Seattle. She's a local to see. I don't get Alan Matthews. Where you from? Him, Birmingham and Christian. It's from Seattle local. Very cool. Got several locals here. So these guys were here to hang out. Um, and be awesome, which clearly they are achieving. Achieving that, uh, so happy to have them here. And you'll feel free again to fire any questions directly at me. I think it would be good for everybody to hear as well. So we're gonna get started. Spend just a little brief s...

egment here on four grounds. That sounds probably very vague and whatever, but I never a lot of I've had a lot of luck and especially doing band shoots again. Just experiencing, like, crazy. What could I possibly put in front of my camera? That might add to this image. And so we know we're actually gonna start out trying something I've never done before. One it Which is kind of a goal. My goal for creative lives. To take those words literally and to be creative live. So you're about to see something I haven't done before. I get the get the side any of the day, we're going back to our glitter, which is really funny. If he knew I use quit or so much So who is ready with our models? Is everybody ready? I'm going to start with one in a minute. We're gonna use all four of you are five whoever's for right now. Okay, we will start with you again. You ready? Yes. Dig in the outfit, Rico. So, um, I have tape on my neck, which is really interesting toe. Have all the hairs on my neck being yanked as I talk. I wanted to talk about John Couey. Bring that that portable kit over. This is an amazing little light kit that I use, especially. I was talking about earlier when I travel the world and and do all this more photojournalism at a two World Tours A toured to Basically two of the entire country is Britney Spears, official tour photographer. And then I went on another tour to 20 countries. I'm sorry, 17 countries with the Passion World two. And my job on that trip was to document events document. The cities were in shoot Portrait's literally. I was kind of every photographer once I was a concert photographer, a portrait photographer, a landscape photographer, and for 17 countries, this was all I had. In fact, I didn't even have a light stand. All I had was Molly Stand was a person, my assistant, Daniel. So he had a mono pod, and he carried this soft box with this pack everywhere we went on. So it's very heavy, but I wanted to start with only this light and some glitter eso That's what we're gonna try. And I like this like is its lower wattage pack, which means I can use that to give just a kiss of light when low light settings. And so that's what we're gonna try to real quick. So you'll give me a second. Going to have a seat right there on the yellow, and then I might need a camera again. Maybe get one. Let's get Ah, don't know my camera. Because I need my 50 millimeter other school. So I'm gonna switch from 24 to 70 here to my 50 millimeter. 12 obviously a much lower deficits. Ill, this lenses brilliant in low light. Um, to change it out. It's got fingerprints on It's always good. Um, again, there's the kinds of things that bother a lot of people don't really care a lot of times unless it's obvious eso I'm gonna shoot natural light. In fact, can we Let's do this. Let's open up these bonds just a little bit. Give me a little more light and let's kill the overheads. But that's okay, guys, at least this side, if that's possible, that's pretty close them more. I'm just watching the light on her face. Keep going. Keep closing. And can we kill the overheads again? I go, I'm assuming you're working on that. Um uh huh. Nice. Okay. Um, I think this will begin. Yes, sir. Then let's, uh, get my pack here on. It's all the way down right now. So start there and to see what happens. In fact, why don't you go and grab that mono pod and put put it on the light instead of the stand? John, I'm just gonna have you kind of hold it. You will be You will be my human light stand for a minute. So again, I wanted to show the forward the next shot after this, this thing we're gonna do is try to create the most layered portrait I can with four models were going to go crazy with color. We're gonna fully light this set. Um, and so you'll get to see that extreme. But first, we're gonna do the opposite extreme, which is crazy, crazy, simple. Basically, what I'm gonna do this time is that I'm gonna use glitter again and again. This is just an idea how the today and what we're gonna try to do is just toss it in the air and let this light like the glitter in the foreground. And I'm gonna shoot it like one too, or 18 or something, and I'm gonna try to let that glitter almost create those the bow K circles in the foreground and just try to create this beautiful ambience of sparkle and, you know, whatever in the foreground and have our model there in the background. So I have no idea if it's gonna work. Well, just test it out. And you know what? Let's go ahead and keep this. There's a charger in my bag. What's going? Keep discharged while we try this, because once we take it outside, its might lose power quickly. This pack, I think, has about 200. Flash is a full, A full power. That's what they advertise, I think. But for some reason, I've used it and beat it up so much that I think it's gets about 100 flashes at full power. We've really And if anyone's wondering if you could get on an airplane with all this, I actually never have problems. I think out of 17 countries, only one airplane airline raised an issue with the battery pack. So Keisha wonder if you can carry this thing on, and usually with no problem. How much does it weigh? That's a good question. 15. With the light. Yes, yeah, that sounds about 8 to £10. I know that when I have that the light and extra battery for that which the bettors are very heavy. My camera, all the lenses, Which is about, I think, four lenses. That's right, at about £50. So? So we have glitter. So, yeah, um, it's around. Yeah, I'm gonna have you, Uh, maybe about a about a peer. It's gonna catch her, but hopefully it's also gonna catch. So the thing, obviously, I'm sure a lot of you have tried shooting it like one. Teoh. Enough stop. It's really hard to get things focused, cause if I move it all, or if my talent moves at all, it's just gonna be a soft image. So you have to be really, really careful when you do this kind of thing. Um, I do move a lot. I have very shaky hands, so I'm gonna attend to do that, a tripod will see if we'll see if I can pull it off. Can I have a, uh, a chair of some sort? Maybe a stool. The wheels would be good. My assistance always joked that That's my one deeper requesters rolling here. But if it's easy to zoom in and out If you've got a chair that moves, um, so I'm gonna have you turn your body more this way. Yeah, that's nice. And then don't put too much weight on that arm because it makes your arm do funny things. I'd like it back there, but just don't lean, put any weight on so and then put this arm your right arm over yet just across your lap like that, and extend your legs further out with your toe. It toes pointed. That's all right. Yeah. I can't seem right now. Something group. Um, so that light is all the way down in power. Correct. And so again, we're not. I'm just taking an educated guess right now. I have no idea what this image gonna look like. Can you turn around and bring that closer to me so I can see I'm gonna get closer and this chair probably isn't go lower. Doesn't. Do we have an apple box of any kind or even that box? I might steal that box here. Apple boxes are great for sitting on, and but the I find that they usually come in handy when you have a band that you're shooting, that the band is different heights. You have the short drummer of the super told lead singer. So you can use that boxes to kind of even everybody out. Can I borrow that? I'm sitting on that. Oh, get you want to start sweating? Perfect. I see. So right now, I mean, we're gonna get more in a composition later, but right now she has that ladder behind her. She had the blinds, and I'm gonna position her. These are the things that did first, when I'm holding my camera looking through is I want her head popping up just a little bit into the blinds because it kind of gives their heads and separation. So I need to get low enough to where that will happen instead of nice and tall. Good posture. And then let's move our telescope out of the way there, Okay? And then let's also move that chair out of the way before I try this. Can you push the silver box in closer? Just pretty heavy. Nice lift. Let's see, I've changed my I s 0 to 400. Still too dark. I'm using my what's called a in camera meter. So I'm going to go to 800. If they're like, I have no idea what that would look like again. This is This is how I start almost shoots and agile. See, Were way, way hot. Um, on the light. Um, it's all the way down. Right? Okay, um, what's that? Can you really, really skewed back all the way in its corner? So yeah. Super, Super hot. Um, this is still gonna be overexposed, But I'm just trying to get something that I like here a little better. Um, actually no. What? I'm gonna dio I'm going. Teoh, Let's try to put a grid on that because I don't want it to light her too much. I wanted to Really, Basically what I'm going to do now is I don't like the way the slightest hitting her. I actually prefer the natural light of the room over, Maestro. But I do want the Strom to light the glitter that we're about to use. So I'm gonna use this grid to keep the lights off of my subject, but to keep it lighting the foreground. So I got a 10 degree grid. We're putting on the slight now you're gonna shoot, You're gonna in light between Maura camera. Unless that her, um so we'll see. Bring your right arm over. Kind of like grew close your waist. Yeah, that's better. Can everybody hear my stomach growling on camera? So is that you were you weren't even aiming it yet after is we definitely want to kill it. So right now, he just had the light aimed at her, and we're trying to avoid that. Actually, don't want any lead on our aim it right at me camera. And, uh, a minute. I'm gonna have you throw some glitter. Um, so let's see. So, yeah, now the now you can see this looks more natural light. Um, the light, the strove is not really hitting her. Um, let's go and get want to, if any. Any other pack. Actually, no, it can't plug into the lighter there. I want to get one more packed. That's that low of light. But I don't think we have anything that low doing or Well, well, let's let's do this. I'm trying to get a little more light on the background so we could use a B flat to fill in the shadows. back there or we could could use a beauty edition, bounce it off a fly or, you know, just bring that beauty dish, aim it down there at the corner. And do we have a 1200 pack? We can. They're all 20 fours. Okay, well, that might be too much, but we'll give it a shot, especially if it's really high and aim just down at the corner behind her. And why I'll do that. I'm gonna go ahead and start trying something. Keep aiming that it means. And so I'm not one to which is pretty crazy. Low depth of film, I think you'll see what? I'm getting it back there under the blinds. It's a little too dark. And so I've got it. I've got it close. Then we're gonna go and try the the glitter are foreground element and just see what happens. You know, I have no idea who is gonna work again, But that's why we're calling this experimental portraiture. Yeah, all the way down and then raise it really, really high and kind of aim it a more down on the back of a set. It's got the grid on it, right? Yeah, back at that corner. I wanted to miss her completely. You get in, take it as high as that thing will go. And be sure to name the grid down first to make sure that when you get to the top, it'll still hit our corner there. It might even add in another prop or something. Um, fill in that space back there. We got we got a table in a bird cage. I think that might help a little bit. First time I've said that sentence. Yeah. We'll see if that works again. Guys, you are seeing You're definitely seeing a photo shoot live cause, um, back in that corner in that kind of dead space. And then you put the but a birdie on there. Yep. Here we go. So we're still a 12 And as I suspected, that beauty dish is way too hot because we're working with a 100 pack in the background and a 600 watt pack in the foreground. So it's probably not gonna work. Um, yeah, we're all the way down, so we'll probably just kill this idea. I mean, if we really want to get technical we could use, uh, V flat back here, or but then would be bouncing back into her. It's okay. I think the audience knows what I'm trying to do, which is to light that background. And I think they understand why. That's not possible, because this pact that we're using to my left is way too high power, even though we have it all the way turned down. So we're getting we're only get it. We're still I told the classroom only gonna use one light, so we'll stick to that. That's good. So, um, let's grab the glitter and see if this see if this does what I hope it will do, and you're going to toss it really close to camera mawr more in front of me than her and and throw it up really high and just let it all the wider the spread the better. Um, bring your right arm back over. That's good. Nice sitting. Nice and straight up and turn the sand more out. Yeah, I'm a little bit in the elbow. Yeah, to see if this works again. Guys, I've never done this. We'll see. All right. Who knows if that works. So keep doing this because it seems to be working. Seems to be doing what I was hoping. I don't mean this shot isn't there yet. It's not a a complete shot, but I do like the General. Do you like the general vibe? So we're gonna keep tossing glitter, see if this works. Uh, let me have two people do this to make even a larger spread. Now, I'm gonna be covered in glitter all day. This will be our last use of glitter in the whole workshops. Yeah, there was much. What's that? Do this. Don't look at camera system. Look, mawr kind of up towards the corner and chin up some, like, real exaggerated very, you know? Yeah. Like that. And tilt your head more towards camera. And then Biltmore eyes, eyes that way. Yeah, it's a kind of leaning your head towards me. Yeah, right there. That's good. Yeah, and yeah, nice and straight. Actually, I'm so bring us back to camera lips. Lips together. Yeah, right there. See if this works. Okay. And let's take a look. So that when it wasn't as noticeable, maybe try you see it at the bottom that I think I might have shot too late. Go back to the other one. Jeremy Vintage Jones Online says that they want glitter handlers, glitter handlers. Nice. Don't we all? Um, we'll try. That's a couple more times. I think you all know what I'm trying to get it And make sure aim that grid. Yeah, a little more to me. Exactly. I'm still not loving my composition. So let me make sure that metal box in the back might have been the best choice. Milk was a bad choice. Sorry. Attend a quote, major man a lot. Okay, here we go. I'm gonna be so pretty the rest of the day. Sparkly for Christmas. Wow. Yeah, that's pretty Well, um, this is interesting again. Your promise that never. And as you can see, these images aren't even that sharp. So I'm probably moving. I met 12 which is almost impossible. Have it doubt. And And we're at, uh, 800. I So? So That's why these air, Although that's not terrible. It's pretty close way. Turn off. How? I'd alert with that green news I'm kind of is interesting. Now, if I could just get a lot one. Can you control the glitter of the falls? It's getting Jeremy a quick question from the Internet. A Maddie pie in the chat room is asking, Is it the combination of of lights and the low aperture that is giving the effect of the image with the glitter? It's the combination of the low aperture, Yes, shooting that low depth of field means. Everything in front of that focus is going to be completely blurred out. And that means everything behind my focus is going to be completely blurred out. Um, and so, yeah, the glitter just turns to this nice abstract circles. The idea is to get more of those that you're seeing in camera. Um, but again, this is an experiment, so I didn't know if it would work. But as you can see here, it's a pretty cool effects. We're gonna try a couple more times and see if we can and I'm gonna go in dallin some setting so these don't look So some crooks on the Internet are suggesting maybe just toe drop it in front versus the throwing. I'm trying to wait till it falls be. I'm gonna know what they're saying, so that will give Internet always has opinions. Course. Now that I've I'm darling, the white balance in and in a few not telling in the color cry but Mawr experimenting with how I want it to look and I'm liking it better. That's much more dramatic. Kind of, I b um, you're gonna add, maybe a little bit. Been getting just just a hair that's actually back to zero. Um, too much on the contrast again, I have no idea what this looks like. Annuals, screens at home. But that feels a little more interesting to me personally. Right. Let's try a couple more times. So are you taking the Internet suggestions now? All right. Can you? I'm sorry. Can you skewed the whole thing? A little closer to me gets coaching. Yeah, I like this better turning shoulders and more to me. Sorry. Okay. Ready? See now executed Her so close that that light is catching her. And obviously it's getting overexposed on her arm and you'll see what I mean. Do you think? I mean, when you lean back on your arm, it creates a strange shape on your arm. So that's what I was referring to earlier. So I'm gonna actually scoot you again back and really, just a little bit this time That that's good and really keep the light came to camera. Um, but this is this is a fun experiment, for sure. Seeing what we can create with her foreground. One more try, you know, move on to something else. You. That's what I'm talking about. He even to something that settle, I think is really beautiful. And obviously I could go on and do some skin retouching. And, you know, uh, there's a lot that give you done in post production, but this is this is exactly the general vibe. I was kind of hoping for with this, with this effect cropped in still a little bit. Maybe even this of my make a nice square image. Um, I had a little more color saturation, a little less green wars. So that fills. That's getting there. And obviously, you know that I could play with this all day, and by the time we tried this 50 times with it probably even have a better, a better image, and I would also try different things with the model have her pose different ways. But again, we only have so much time with each of these segments and back which time will be starting the next color to 30. Cool. Um, Crab Horner. Try a couple more things. The foreground. Um What's that? Yeah, sure. Yeah. Take a break. But I really like I really like this effect. I hope the internet is digging it, too. I always love that one. Yeah, actually, I think I like this. A little doctor is today's word. Glitter. Jeremy? Yeah. The word of the day might be glitter. Um, cool. Hello. It was the next question. How long do you typically spend with clients? If we're cycling through these pretty quickly, how long are usually spending? If you have a man, that's a question to She's asking how long that typically spend with the subject. Our client And it just depends. Um, get a music at music, bands, labels. I try to just move as quick as I can. I want to get the point where 11 image I go. Um, yes, that's my favorite thing is to squeeze in as much as many options as we can. So let's we want Teoh. Sorry, I have to look at my IPhone for minutes. Well, color, but yeah, I guess I can mix in color and foreground stuff. We don't have to stay on on on. I would like to, but let's get the now, Okay? I'm going to mix two things. We're gonna move into our our color set, which I'm really excited about. This is where I really start to have fun, and I think killer gonna enjoy seeing this part. But before we do that, I'm gonna show you another trick I do with the old handy IPhone. When I was on the Passion Tour, which is when I was documenting concerts, I would go up in the nosebleed sections, you know, a couple 100 feet up and my assistant. I would sit there in the rafters with a tripod and we would shoot the, you know, we'd shoot the scene. And there's only so once you get up that high, there's only so many shots you can think of a wide angle crowd and lights and all that. So what were what I would do has put the camera on a trip. What? I can gather again real quick and, uh, quote hashtag awkward pause. Uh, yes. So you're gonna have to stay very, very still once that do this. Are you ready for the You've mastered the art of sitting still with that? Yeah, exactly. She submitted a beautiful video with her two kids. Of course I loved it. Because I have two kids was a great video. Okay, cool. So let's get this. Um well, let me find my frame of there's going to Yeah. I just want to see what I'm gonna cheat first. So I'm kind of he's probably about right here again. No, I got to tell a story. I'm gonna embarrass my brother like crazy says you the blood. I come from my family. So when my brother was first shooting Ah, he's also a music performer. So he was onstage doing this music performance, and I showed up and he said, Hey, can you take some pictures from when I was like, Yeah, I can I borrow your tripod? He was looking for my tripod. So he gives that he performs. Does this show while he's performing, I'm using its tripod taking pictures. And after the show, he comes down off stage and goes, I thought used my tripod and I said, This is your trip on He goes the legs extend have been doing photo shoots from the ground like this, aiming up his subjects because he didn't know the legs extended. So thank you, Mike, for that wonderful story. I think you did like four or five photo shoots. He's gonna kill me for sharing that story. But that's the kind of kind of family, and I'll share an embarrassing story about my already did about the light meter. But I'm I've got some stories. I accidentally drove four hours to the wrong city because I just tuned out and I arrived in. I was driving to Atlanta and, uh, get zoned out and drove all the way to Knoxville and didn't realize it until I was in Knoxville. And then I had to drive another four hours to Atlanta. So I am very special people. Um, yeah, I phone. So let's try this. So here's what we do in the World tour. Uh, no, we're not. So, essentially, I want to get Teoh, Turn your light more. Let's open these blinds up. Just a hair more. It's beautiful right there. Your profile. Keep looking that way. Bring your, uh I'm pretty tight here, so bring your hands in frame. I'm not a big fan of cropping people's hands off. Um, something will talk about later in the image critiques. Let's see. So based on what I just did is on auto focus on her eye. And now I'm turning it to manual so the focus will stay locked. And then again, I'm going to guess my exposures here. I mean, I'm gonna try to get a 10 seconds. Where will say I will say four seconds. Um, can you tell that laptop down so I can see what pops up there and then go back to default on the white balance? CNN crap. There you go. These shots? Yes, that's Ah, that's pretty right on. Um, so now I'm going to just open any standard app on my IPhone. We will say they turned my boy. I'm off. I won't say what happened. Opening for copyright issues. I'm sure the Creativelive team will love me for that. The basic I'm just finding color on my screen. Ah, on my IPhone and my kids play with a lot of these apso. We're just going Teoh, We're going to see if this works. It might not, because that might be too dark. Turn my screen brightness all the way up. I know it's not working out, but we will get there. So give me a second. Yeah, this will be This will be stronger. I used to have that utility flat. There you go. That's what I need. And that's the app I used on the to her. Um, so can I scroll through just like that? Perfect. So, John, as an after literally just flashes colors, Can we say, Can you see that? Um, thanks White through. So this is all I'm really wanting to try. Um, red and blue Black. It doesn't have read, does it? Can it? Um, So let's just try this again. We're just playing around here. Same thing. Bring your hands closer to your stomach. ***, I'm sure look like an idiot doing this, but still not well. We are singing a little bit of top towards the latter, but I'm going to make a longer exposure. Okay, This should do it. I would think this would do it more time. Green isn't the most flattering color. But why not try? See if it worked that time. Yeah, so obviously that color is disgusting. Um, John Sleeping? Yeah. Here we go. Let's see Red. Oh, there you go. Beautiful fan. Fancy. Rather theory. Strangely red. Ok, uh, one more time. Let's give this another shot. I just stick the camera. That might actually help us. Maybe not. Yeah, I shake the camera, so it's actually still kind of cool. Um, so stay really, really still this time. You're right, because it's Ah, it's about a four second shutter. So after that, you hear the camera? Uh, go off. Just keep staying still for a minute. Here we go. Uh, yeah. And so I'm gonna hop on the computer for a second. And, um, I think by now you get you see what I'm talking about? This is just the kind of stuff that I enjoy playing around with Mattson been getting. I mean, it's not a perfect image, but again, I would I would play around with this more of a crop in tighter, trusting, different things, maybe even using multiple colors on my IPhone. Um, but there's all kinds of fun things you can do with four grounds. Teoh make an interesting image on. Duh. Actually, that's kind of cool. Jeremy, Elvis is asking if the IPhone is placed directly in front of you. Kind of have to decide. Yeah, a little bit of both. I'm just trying different things. Yeah, again, when I was talking earlier about not being able to create the same image twice. That's what I love about this as it's different every time. But this is a pretty good range that we're working in right now with this, you know, I kind of dig that, and I would probably go in tighter and trust in different things, but I think we're done with four rounds.

Class Description

ex·per·i·ment (noun) - a test, trial, or tentative procedure; an act or operation for the purpose of discovering something unknown

How do you make extraordinary photos that surprise and delight? Join Jeremy Cowart and a lively mix of first time models in an exciting, eye-opening 2 day workshop. We'll explore methods and techniques to reveal, highlight, expose, enhance and otherwise present your subject in new and unexpected ways.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Lisa Carney

This guy is FANTASTIC. Creative and thinks outside the box. Totally had me rethink my shooting style. LOVE LOVE

a Creativelive Student

I almost didn't watch this one. It was a little slow at first, but once JC get's going it's a fun ride. He transitions from using $2k strobes, to using just a few dollars for lighting. This course opens a lot of doors and shows that it's ok to go against the grain and to think outside the box. Lots of good ideas to see in this one!

Mike Taylor

Experimental portraiture is just that. Experimental. However, I don't feel that JC was properly prepared. Shooting a single person with a 2400ws pack is simply overkill, considering that he wanted to be shooting wide open. A fairly simple solution would have been to use a few sheets of Lee ND filter over the light head. I do suppose this was typical of any shoot. Especially a shoot that I'm doing.