Friday, March 25, 2011

Using A "Dave Hill" Effect To Give A Grittier Look

I'm not going to beat a dead horse (too much), but wanted to take the shoot at the firehouse the other day up a notch.  In yesterday's image, the firefighter  looks good.  A handsome fellow who looks like he could pose for GQ or some other men's fashion magazine.  After looking at the shot I wanted to make these guys look like the rugged heroes they are.  While we were at the firehouse I kept telling the men to give me a serious, "I'm fighting a fire" type of look.  For the most part, it didn't happen.  Because I wasn't the only one shooting I couldn't shoot fifty shots of each firefighter, changing poses ever so slightly to zero in on an expression that would give the feel of them "at work".  That's okay, they were all good sports about putting up with us while we were there.  I explained to some of the shooters not familiar with Nikon's Creative Lighting System how to set their cameras to work with the configuration I had programmed in to the camera and flashes.  Only problem with that was that, at one point, every time I clicked the shutter, someone had fired a split second before me and had stolen my light.  The back lights had it easy, so I'd get the light skimming across the sides of the persons face, but nothing for a fill.  It cut down on the number of keepers for the evening.  I took about ten shots of one particular fellow but everyone of them wound up with zero fill.  Guess I'll have to do another shoot to fill in the blanks.  Today's image has a "Dave Hill" type effect put on it.  I knew Scott Kelby did a post about his riff on Dave Hill's work a couple years ago.  A Google search turned up the post I was looking for.  To give Scott the credit he's due and to find out how it was done, hit the "read more".

Scott Kelby did his post about doing a "Dave Hill" like effect back on March 6, 2008. You've seen the effect I'm sure. Just take a look at almost any still shot of any current US TV show and it probably has the cast standing around, arms folded, with the "Dave Hill" look. It's that popular.
The first thing to do is to take a perfectly good shot, with strong lighting, and make it look screwed up. Here's the settings in either Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Adobe ACR (Adobe Camera Raw).

Crank the Recovery slider up to 100%.
Crank the Fill Light slider to 100%.
Same with the Contrast slider - 100%.
Again with the Clarity slider - 100%.
Lastly, the Vibrance slider - 100%

Put the Brightness slider at about 50%
The Saturation slider down until all color is drained and then back up about 10 points.
Finally, bring the Blacks slider up to get the image to look somewhat reasonable.

Once you're there you're ready to start finishing the image. You can soften the skin using a Gaussian Blur. (I didn't use this step because I was looking for more grit.) You may have to go back and forth between the Tone Curve, Basic and Hue/Saturation adjustment in either Lightroom or ACR. Going between the three panels allows you to tweak things to dial in the image to your liking.

The last steps in LR or ACR are to put a fairly heavy vignette on the image. You can use the Post Crop Vignette Panel and play with the sliders to close in around the subject to increase the drama of the image.

Once you're at this point, take the image into Adobe Photoshop and make any adjustments necessary.
The "Dave Hill" effect is an interesting way to finish the right image. It's not for every image, but, if you have an image with strong lighting, give it a try.