Add drama and creativity without compromising detail

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Find out how commercial photographer Ross Floyd manages to balance drama, creativity and the highest level of accuracy in his images for Wright Auction House

When photographing art for Wright Auction House, no matter how dramatic or creative the shot, it is still very important for me to represent the piece of art that I’m shooting with the highest level of accuracy.

In other words, each image must faithfully represent the object. Capture one Pro 7 allows me to do this quickly and effectively.

An exceptional challenge

This sculpture in particular, a tree form by Harry Bertoia was an exceptional challenge. Nearly fifty years old and made of a special alloy, this tree form has a patina that is a large part of its aesthetic appeal, and a testament to its age, authenticity and the level of craftsmanship of the artist.

I built a fairly dramatic lighting scenario for this piece in order to create a shot that would be paired with the less-romanticized view in the catalogue. But the mid-tones and some of the purples and oranges in the patina were not standing out as much as they do when one is in the presence of the piece.

Post production

To bring those out and really convey the dimension of the form, I increase the clarity – which primarily adjusts mid-tone contrast allowing many of the colors and values – that the digital back has already recorded – to be emphasized.

I moved the sliders to the right until the results match how the sculpture is perceived in real life – from zero to 16 and 17 in clarity and structure respectively.

1 MidtonesClarityClick on images to enlarge

The nodules at the top of the sculpture are also a bit too bright and are loosing detail. As I really like what is already going on in the rest of the image, instead of correcting this problem by adjusting my lights, I will use the High Dynamic Range Tool to restore some of the detail in those ends.

2 HDRhighlights

Lastly, I will use the Curve to bring down the black values in the background to really make this piece appear like it is emerging from the darkness.

3 Curveadj

By lighting a little brighter than what I want my end result to be, and take full advantage of the dynamic range of the Phase One P30+ digital back, I am able to adjust my values and tonal curves so that the image not only is as accurate as possible, but achieves the desired dramatic effect with out loosing or compromising any detail.

The final image looks stunning next to the more traditional shot in the catalogue and really helps to sell the idea of the object.

4 catalogue spread

A few powerful tools in Capture One Pro 7 allowed me to really refine this image into the feeling I was looking to achieve while still maintaining an accurate representation of the object. I hope this helps inform your own photographic endeavors. Please feel free to post any questions and comments below.

 

Best regards

Ross

 

Images Courtesy of Wright

This image appeared in the Wright October 2013 Design catalogue available for viewing online. More information on our Catalogues and Auctions

Ross’ work can be viewed at www.rossfloyd.com

Ross Floyd

Ross Floyd

Ross works as a full-time photographer for Wright, a Chicago-based auction house specializing in modern and contemporary design and post-war and contemporary art. Ross also takes on additional freelance commercial projects.

4 thoughts on “Add drama and creativity without compromising detail

  1. David

    Well Ross, Boy could I have used C1 when I was Staff Photographer for the Egyptian Exploration Society in Cairo 1984/88)… Recording artefacts, many of which were over 3,000 years old was always a test of optics, film and ME.. How wonderful to be able to refine the finished image.. Enjoyed this piece very much. Thanks! David

    Reply
    1. Ross Floyd Post author

      Hi David,

      That sounds like incredibly interesting work!I actually initially learned to make images using film and traditional process – using 4×5 chrome, pulling polaroids, the whole bit – I certainly agree that C1 would have come in very handy. It is a powerful tool and it removes many barriers between the images I can make straight out of the camera and the image I want to achieve. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

      Best,

      Ross

      Reply
  2. Andrew

    Ross, Great work and thanks for sharing some of your process. As a fellow photographer of art objects it is highly appreciated. Capture One’s tools help a ton. It’s great to have clarity options. Sometimes punch is just too much and I’ll switch over to the neutral clarity and the art object come alive. Phase One, thanks for showcasing a broad range of professionals using your products. We don’t all shoot cars and models.

    Reply

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