Alienskin Exposure: A First Try

Retouching: Alienskin Exposure

A first introduction

I’m always on the lookout for new, fun things to implement into my workflow. Even if it’s just for a temporary time or those situations I need a fresh look or a new creative wind just to spice things up - we can get so stuck into certain things at times it’s get boring or unchallenging. And even if it isn’t there necessary, there has never been done any harm into trying something new!

So I (re)discovered Alienskin (Exposure 4) - I used it véry briefly back in 2014 but didn’t get the hang of it so I completely forgot about it until a while back. I decided to try it again, as they have a full 30 days trial with no strings or sneaky hidden costs attached (no joke - it’s awesome!) where you get full playroom of basically anything you want to try out they have to offer.

This evening I really wanted to be productive and clear out my mind after some chaotic moments but I couldn’t get the hang of just sitting down and retouching from scratch. So I decided to get into this program a bit more determined to try it out and see what I could cook up after a few quick try-outs with Alienskin compared to my very first try years back. As I know they have a ton of readymade presets - it quickly gives a interesting base which you can alter too if you feel it’s just not what you want. So there I dived into the rabbit hole … and I may have gotten carried away … kicks stone … as usual. I discovered it’s a hélla lot of fun to work with - very similar to “Infinite Color Panel” aka ICP (I will cover this shortly in a blog too as it’s become a serious part of my workflow often when it comes to color toning!) as it takes away a part of the rational thinking and it allows to change things up with a few clicks.

After trying it a bit, it feels a bit like a lovechild of Lightroom and Photoshop: with it’s filters and ability to edit (like it’s) a raw file - but also because you have the option to mask, make layers and change opacity like a regular photoshop flow. It allows for some crazy in depth details without actually being destructive and setting steps back by clicking layers on and off.

You can also save anything you do as presets, which is a amazing if you like to work in series like I do for both personal as client work - but also to have as a kick-off if the inspiration isn’t working out and you need something to start with as a base. There are of course the many basics provided, but I like to have my own as they already have kinda my aesthetics to it.


So what do I think now?

It’s definitely something I can highly recommend if you’re into color toning and effects on your images: textures, sparks, bokeh, tons and tons and tons of all kind of color filters inspired on analog film and even the good old cyanotype and daguerreotype. There are tons of options for grains and even more presets, both in color and bw but also overlays and light effects of “ruined” film for those who love the imperfect look.

I will say I’ve been mostly drawn to the practical effects of light bleeds and effects, but also the grain and borders for that finished grudgy look. I’m less fond of the color filters so far but this may be because I worked on my finished pieces and I’m heavily biased because they’re “done” for me … so I will need to delve into this a bit more over time!

Those b/w filters … oh boy … those make my little artist heart scream with joy to be honest! I’ve becoming more and more interested in this, especially when they look like old photographs and there are plenty of options with that one! To me they gave an almost instant finished look and I’m very drawn to a lot of the options available.

Should you get it?

Considering you got nothing to lose or pay, the 30 days trial is legit and you can do anything with it: YES! Even if it turns out nothing for you, you never know. It can do no harm to try it on some pieces and yes see what cooks up.

I might be doing a video later once I can sit down on a piece or two, entirely from (toning) scratch to showcase what’s possible so keep an eye out for that! For now I’ve put my own finished files against the alienskin edits (which are done directly on the finished psd files).

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Questions? You can ask me anything when you sign up on my Patreon (from the second trier from just 5 dollars!) where I will be going more in depth about this as well about this blog and the upcoming videos! There is also a trier for just 2 dollars if you want to support me so I can continue creating free content like this! And some other cool stuff like getting monthly presets & finished psd files in your inbox ;)

Model - Necia Navine
Makeup - Ashley Design
Collar - Marquis Fashion

Model - Ayumi
Makeup - Margaux Caubuy
Corset Ensemble - Royal Black Couture

Model - Lady Louisa
Makeup - Margaux Caubuy
Horns - Creations By Liv Free
Dress - Maria Heller Designs

Model/Makeup - Ivory Flame
Jewelry - Monarque Jewelry
Lace Ensemble - Emiah

Model - Spooky
Makeup & Hair - Eline Deblauwe
Headpiece - Creations By Liv Free
Corset & Dress - Holly Rafaela

Model - Ardine
Hair & Makeup - Eline Deblauwe
PVC ensemble - Raspberry Mazohyst

Model - Kari
Hair & Makeup - Eline Deblauwe
Horn & Dress - Fairytas

Model - Luce Del Sole
Hair & Makeup - Eline Deblauwe
Dress - Church Of Sanctus
Necklace - Eerohinsanten

Model/MUA - Margot Mi
Dress - Maria Heller Designs
Halo - Au Contraire

Model/MUA - Lillian Liu

How It Was Lit: "Li-Pei"

How It Was Lit: "Li-Pei"

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This summer was a whirlwind of creative chaos and beauty, seeing old friends back and meeting people in real life after collaborating many times and staying in touch on the internet. One of these people is the insanely talented Lillian Liu - who is a fellow photographer and creative mastermind based in Canada - who has been traveling almost yearly to Europe for a massive roadtrip. With one stop being my place here in Antwerp - our little tradition since the summer of 2015 when we got to meet for the first time.

The idea of this shoot was one of these impromptu, lightbulb moments of inspiration, which was after we went for breakfast on a lovely morning walk discussing our ideas. Lillian mentioned she needed to wash her hair before our sessions in the studio … and it took a second or so where I realised how gorgeous that concept could be with her ethnicity and her lush, dark hair. While I did know it could quickly become that-kinda-kitsch-shoot if I wasn’t careful, I knew that my new and current favorite light modifier from broncolor it would totally be possible and make it a piece of portraiture art.

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Credits:

Model - Lillian Liu
Photography & Editing - Studio Sheridan’s Art

Gear used: Canon 5D Mark III + 50mm f1.4
Light provided by broncolor
Edited in Adobe Raw & Photoshop


How it was lit: Light Diagram & Technique

In this set-up I only used two lights: first I had my broncolor Siros 800 L with a softlight reflector p with a diffuser on it; with the second lamp being a move 1200 l with a fresnel attachement + a (light)blue colorgel added over it to give it a touch of color. For the entire series I barely changed my set-up but only moved Lillian around to see how the light changed and affected the overall visual and how it lit her face. I also played around with the strenght of both the Siros 800 and the Move 1200 L to experiment with it and see how they affected each other and the color.

For the “water” effect I used a simply waterspray bottle that I sprayed on her both before each shot and also during the session itself while capturing the frames at the same time - this gave a gorgeous shine effect on her skin that really got enhanced thanks to the fresnel and the softlight reflector; pulling out all those highlights - but also captured the “mist” when used during each session making it a much more lively shot.

Because of the light set-up and the modifiers, it was an almost unlimited series of possibilities and with even the slightest turn of the broncolor move 1200 L. I tried adding a more focal setup with the fresnel being very focussed in “lightbeam” - but also completely open allowing it to spill all over the set; which also greatly changed how it all came together with minimal effort. The consistency of the Siros 800 L allowed me to play in on how the fresnel worked and keep my ISO at an absolute minimum of 100 while still delivering sharp photos and capturing all the details of the waterdrops on her skin & hair. It was also important for me that the image wouldn’t be completely washed, which was very easy thanks to the siros 800 L that even on it’s almost lowest setting gave a subtile hint of light that I needed to balance it out over the strong blue color.

 Made with the “Lightning Diagram Creator”

Made with the “Lightning Diagram Creator”

The fun part of this editing was how experimental I could get with véry little effort in raw. That’s what you get when using amazing equipment! While some of these edits seems heavy in post-processing; the most I did was playing around in the Adobe Raw converter with the white balance, split toning and the saturation/luminance with a lot of focus on the highlights and shadowplay. For the black/white set - I even had to focus just on the contrast, light and shadows and exposure. In photoshop I mainly did skin clean-up and removing small details like hair, with some dodge and burn to enhance the highlights even more as I found this one of the most important aspects of all the portraits.


Want to read more of these kind of blogs? Or maybe you want me to answer some questions about the set-up and everything around it? Read previous posts about how the moodboard and inspiration come together? Simply interested in supporting an independent photographer so she can focus more on the fun part of the job?

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Flashlight-And-Chill

Shooting with a flaslight only

An Fstoppers challenge

A while back, Nicole posted a challenge for the Fstoppers community where you could only use a flashlight as your main source of light, with the option of using the available light as well. And ofcourse - I had to try this. Why wouldn’t I? Lately I’ve been feeling incredibly inspired by going outside my own comfort zone, trying new things and challening myself (especially with my broncolor GenNEXT gear! Got a lot to tell about that soon). Though for this one it was all about the basics and playing around with that ultimate diy budget so I took this opportunity with both hands.

I had already invited Maki over for a session, so I asked if she was up for all of the experimenting to come as I had some ideas in mind: using (basic) prisms, my actual fractal filters but also my colorgels and the bare flashlight as it was. I also used some good, old waterspray to give some texture to her and get some reflection here and there (or that I hoped)! And for the rest I kept it as simple as possible, with one exception of course: I had to use the headpiece by KatzLittleFactory because I’m a sucker for those kind of aesthetics …

The effects I got where mainly by either shooting through my prisms, but also using them to create effects like the rainbow(line). With the gels it was pretty straightforward: somehow getting enough color without being overly saturated and ugly (and some photoshop to enhance the darker colors into a gorgeous blue. Yey split toning!).

I tried to record a bit of behind the scenes to show (and proof) I DID only use my flashlight and the available light. Its definitely not the best ever, but I do hope you like the little sneak peak how we somehow pulled it all of. I think I might try this again over time, but we shall see.

I hope you enjoy the little video & below the gallery you can find some before & after too if that interests you!



Credits:

Model - Maki
Headpiece - Katz Little Factory
Photography & Editing - Studio Sheridan’s Art

Gear used: Canon 5D Mark III + 50mm f1.4
Edited in Adobe Raw & Photoshop

How It Was Lit: "Aeons Of Light"

How it was lit: “Aeons Of Light”

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One of the best parts in this industry is the ability to sometimes meet people and work together to create art. In august back I had the amazing opportunity to work with the amazing Royal Black Couture, who visited me for two days of insane creation and connecting over a mutual love for art and beauty. While I had worked various times before withher, this was the first time we met up in person and real life in my studio in Antwerp.

If you’re not familiar with Royal Black Couture - here is a quick introducton: Royal Black Couture is a designer from Austria (not Australia!) who specialises in corset couture, but also gowns and costumes. My admiration / obsession with her work started in my very early stages in my creative aspiring career as she’s a major voice within the industry due to her incredible eye for design, detail and perfect execution of each of these pieces as well.

We shot a few of her designs, of which one was the “Silver Thistle” piece - one of my favorite creations ever that I was never able to photograph before as it was a very intricate piece that wasn’t optimal to trust when it came to shipping services as it had to come all the way from Austria and back to Belgium.

While I originally had a much more toned down version in my mind; shooting it with a very monochrome setup and a small hint of colored light to give some accents - when we where dressing our model Kari up we realised how science-fiction it suddenly started to look on her and we changed our concept on the spot to fit our feelings better. It’s something I’ve learned to fully embrace as sometimes - things just come together differentely and this was no difference. That’s also the beauty of personal work and tests, where you can freely move around creating your ideas and work with your inspiration literally on the spot.

For this I knew I wanted to work with Eline - we call her “LeBleu” - as she’s a wizard when it comes to both hair- and make-up and I knew I wanted something who could do exactly what I had in mind and still give her expertise to make it something so much better then intended. For my model I knew I wanted someone who had this unusual beauty I love so much - preferably with white or light hair. So Kari was my first choice - even though I had high quality Websterwigs at my disposal ; with Eline her skills I had working with real hair on top of my list. For myself: I had calculated in more time as well as this was going to be the first time I was going to work seriously with my GenNEXT broncolor gear (more about that below the photos).

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Credits:

Model - Kari
Hair & Makeup - Eline Deblauwe
Couture - Royal Black Couture & Corsetry
Photography & Editing - Studio Sheridan’s Art

Gear used: Canon 5D Mark III + 50mm f1.4
Light provided by broncolor
Edited in Adobe Raw & Photoshop


How It was lit: Light Diagram & Technique

Gear used: broncolor softlight reflector p + an 150 cm octabox with diffuser and a move 1200 battery and lamp with a fresnel attachement. Colorgels used are a dark blue one and a magenta. I worked on a light gray background from Coloroma - something I didn’t do before but was a great choice as I felt using white would be too harsh against the grey & silver from the design and I felt a darker grey or black would be too heavy. The lighter color allowed some ‘light spilling’ which I love in my work as I like how it creates a subtile gradient.

I positioned the softlight with a dark blue color on the left on almost head level with a slightly higher angled down so it would enhance her face and the collar of the piece as I wanted that as main focus point through the entire series. The dark blue colorgel on the softlight reflector ensurde my tones wouldn’t be too warm during the session and while editing after - as it’s a very subtile but beautiful cooler toning. I used a move 1200 L with the fresnel attachement + magenta colorgel as I wanted to give more detail with color and don’t make the entire set too monochrome - something I pre-intended with the moodboard and I asked Eline to work in subtily when it came to the make-up. The light was angled high from above on her from the back - allowing it to bleed all over her until the waist ; bringing out more details. Last but not least I added an octabox as I wanted to balance the results out so it wouldn’t lose any details in the overall image and still keep it beautifully and even lit. That’s also why I decided to use my giant 2m reflector against the wall to bounce some of the light back from the octabox to make the transition as smooth as possible.

 Light diagram made with the ‘Lightning Diagram Creator’

Light diagram made with the ‘Lightning Diagram Creator’

I always underexpose my photos by a stop as I find it easier to post-process later in photoshop - this one was no exception: I had a vague idea of the direction I wanted to go into so I had the first photo edited in about 20 to 30 minutes while they where preparing the second look on the day. Considering I always try to do as much as possible in camera - I also had little to nothing to do on the fabric. It allowed me to fully focus on color editing and enhancing the lights to make it all stand out and come alive.


Want to read more of these kind of blogs? Or maybe you want me to answer some questions about the set-up and everything around it? Read previous posts about how the moodboard and inspiration come together? Simply interested in supporting an independent photographer so she can focus more on the fun part of the job?

Consider supporting me on my Patreon & get tons of awesome rewards beside the opportunity to ask me anything! Rewards start from just 5 dollars - the price of that one coffee to wake up in the morning; now you can get that inspirational kick!

Go to - PATREON -