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Beauty Retouching Class

On November 24, 2013
By Connie
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I’ve enrolled in the Beauty Retouching class with the Australian Centre of Photography here in Sydney.  I started using Adobe Photoshop about 15 years ago, and although my retouching skills are decent, they have definitely been in need of a refresher for quite some time.

Anyone who uses Photoshop on a regular basis can probably relate to falling into a personally refined pattern of methods used to enhance any image one might be retouching.  It’s familiar and comforting.  The ease and speed of using your overly practised methods makes you feel like a pro.  A stagnant pro.

I haven’t learned many new Photoshop skills in the last several years and it was time for me to jump start my learning once again.  For anyone who has never really explored using Photoshop, it is a truly brilliant program.  It never ceases to amaze me how extraordinarily powerful that one program can be.  In the right hands that is.

So far I’ve attended two of the five classes of this coarse.  My mind has been sufficiently blown multiple times.  I don’t know if that was due to my Photoshop ignorance or if my years of previous knowledge helped me really appreciate just how amazing some of these new techniques are.  I have spent countless hours struggling with smoothing out skin tones and blemishes while keeping textures intact.  I have a high admiration for flawless gradations from highlights to shadows.  Don’t get me started on cleaning up wrinkles in clothing.

My instructor made those problems look like child’s play.

Basically we learned a technique called Frequency Separation where it’s possible to separate the texture of a surface from the colours and tones of that same surface.  What does that mean?  It means I can now remove blemishes from skin with ease and without messing up the colours and tones.  It also means that I can smooth out colours and tones without obliterating texture.  It means awesomeness.

Below is a sample of my progress so far.  The image on the left is the “before” and the image on the right is the “after”.

 Beauty_Progress

The technique is completely new to me so I have a lot of practising to do.  It takes some mucking around in order to refine my brush strokes and settings.  But I’ve lucky to have lots of material to practice on.  I’m really excited to use these new techniques for the new portfolio I’ll be adding to my website.  I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me so I better get cracking.

Shoot the Chef!

On October 17, 2013
By Connie
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Michael Shafran of Brooklyn Boy Bagels

Seedy Business – our entry and a finalist in Shoot the Chef 2013

 

Michael Shafran is everything bagel.  Founder of Brooklyn Boy Bagels, Michael and I teamed up for this year’s Shoot the Chef competition for the Good Food Month festival.  Neither of us had entered this popular photo contest before.  I’d seen galleries of finalists over the years and I’ve always been impressed by the calibre of work being entered.  It was time to give it a go.

We tossed around several ideas before eventually settling on the final concept.  Often, when the contest guidelines are wide open for interpretation and creativity, deciding on just one idea to execute can be a real challenge.  The sky is literally the limit.  Which is what makes these projects so much fun.

However, our plan didn’t really go according to plan.  We enlisted the help of a make-up artist who seemed really keen to tackle the project, but on the day of the shoot she didn’t show up.  No call, no text, no email, nothing.  I was really surprised.  This was the first time I had ever been stood up by a team member on a photo shoot.  Not without a call and a really good reason, usually of the emergency variety.  I actually didn’t believe it at first.  I had faith that she was just stuck in traffic, with a dead phone.  And got lost.  At the other end of town.

But we were on our own.  With only two days to the deadline, we were getting this portrait done.  After a mad dash to pick up supplies and a 10 minute lesson on liquid latex, I entered my first foray into make-up artistry.

It was not an easy process.  Or a short one.  I gingerly began plying liquid latex and poppy seeds to Michael’s face as he patiently lay on the floor.  It took some playing around, but I eventually worked out a crude, though effective, technique of getting those little buggers to stay put.  Michael was an amazing sport always cracking jokes despite all the poppy seeds rolling into his eyes, ears, nose and mouth.  I did not envy his role, that’s for sure.

It was an exhausting 4 hours.  But we were proud (and amazed!) of our hard work.  Thankfully, the lights were already set up that morning.  It was only a matter of plopping Michael on the stool and we could start the shoot.  After we applied his cream cheese mustache, of course.  Again, I am not a make-up artist.  We did not think of how temporary the cream cheese would stay on Michael face.  It was a crazy cycle of getting that cream cheese on and then getting some shots before it awkwardly drooped off his upper lip, and then starting over again.  It was a giggley affair.  Definitely a shoot to remember.

And our hard work did indeed pay off.  I am very pleased to write that we are a finalist in this year’s Shoot the Chef in the People’s Choice category.  There was some hefty competition so to be counted among the top picks is always a wonderful feeling.  A print of our entry Seedy Business will be on exhibition from 1-29 November at the Rialto Towers in Melbourne as part of the Good Food Month festival.  Hope you can stop by and enjoy the show.

About Connie

I was that geeky camera chick who spent her high school lunch breaks in the darkroom.  I still miss the smell of those stinky developer chemicals.  Sort of.

Born in Canada, I graduated with top honours in Applied Photography at Sheridan College before spending several years assisting and producing for  some of the best commercial shooters in Toronto.  After gathering a wealth of valuable skills and getting my first DSLR, I bought a plane ticket to Asia.

It was my first backpacking adventure, but I managed to survive nine months from Seoul to Singapore with only some shoddy mandarin and a lot of luck.  I had the time of my life. So I did it again.  Seven months of zig-zagging around India and Nepal taught me ingenuity with limited resources, clarity when surrounded in chaos, and how to eat with just my right hand.

Sydney became my new home in 2008, and I’ve been enjoying the sunny weather and great coffee ever since.

Today, I’m a fashion and product photographer extraordinaire.  Based at Studio 8 in the northern beaches of Sydney, I relish the challenge and precision of studio lighting.  My clients are drawn to my clean, stripped back approach to every project.  My simplistic yet direct style is refreshing and elegant in a market full of heavily Photoshopped images.

When I’m not in the studio you can find me hand folding dumplings or scaling walls at the rock climbing gym.  I’m also really good at winning board games (or my friends are just really good at losing).

 

Accolades

Finalist – Shoot The Chef 2013
Top 5 – Australia’s Emerging Travel Photographers of 2010 – Capture Magazine
Winner – Best Marketing Imagery Award 2010 – New Mardi Gras
Semi-finalist – Shutterbug Awards 2010 – Shutterbug
Short-listed – Travel Photographer of the Year 2009 – TPOTY
Finalist – Cultural Explorers 2009 – STA Travel
Winner – World in Focus 2007 – Photo District News
Top Emerging Photographers of 2007 – Photo Life Magazine

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