Winter Portraits in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I shoot a winter portrait in my small home studio with added snow. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching AdoramaTV brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers and today you join me in my small home studio. Except today we’re going to be outside on a cold winter’s evening with the air full of snow, yeah? That’s going to take some real imagination and when it comes to adding the snow, that’s going to take a bit of post-processing. We’ll get to that in a little bit but first we need to take some photos, so let’s get a light set, let’s get a model in, let’s get shooting. So to help me out today, I’ve got the amazing Lauren. Lauren is going to be the model for this shoot and as you can see she sat on a park bench. Well in my mind it’s a park bench but of course we’re here in my small home studio. Now as well as the bench we’ve got a black background. The lighting for this is going to be a multi light setup which means three lights. I’m going to do each light individually and work them out one at a time, starting with our key light, which is an eVOLV 200 Now I’ve got it off to the side because if it was centered it would give really flat lighting which isn’t what we’re going for here. I’ve also got it in a 70cm softbox with a grid and it’s the grid that really makes a difference because that means I can get direction and control of the light, very important in a small home studio. I’ve already metered this out for f/4 so let’s take a test picture and see how this looks. So that looks really good, I like the contrast between the lit side and the shady side and in my mind this is light being cast by a lamppost which is off to the side and elevated up in the air. So the second light for this setup is around the back and it’s another eVOLV 200 and it’s going to act as a separation light. Now what this should do is put a little bit of light on Lauren’s shoulders, on her hat and just separate her off of the pure black background. It’ll do one other job as well when we add some smoke into the scene. It’ll put some light onto the smoke but we’ll get to that in a little bit. Now you’ll notice there is a blue gel on that light and that’s because this is a winter’s evening, nighttime type shot, so I want that cold blue feeling just to go over her shoulders and hat, so let’s see how this works because if we put too much power through this it could kill the shot, I’ll start with maybe 1/8 power and as you can see that’s just a little bit too bright, a bit too much blue, so let’s bring it all the way down to 164th power and we’ll try the same setup and that’s much more subtle but when we add the smoke into that, that’s going to be probably about right. My third light is what I’m going to call the optional light, you don’t necessarily need it but it can add a little bit of something to the shot because at the moment, we’ve got a key light that’s putting light on Lauren and on that side of the bench but this side is really dark and in shadow, I kind of like that especially with the separation light, but because we’ve got some shadows there we can use this third light with another blue gel to add some blue color into the shadows for that real cold winter feel. Now it’s on a very, very, low power just a little hint of light into the shadows. Let’s see how this looks. Here we go. That looks absolutely great. I think we’re all set ready to go so Lauren are you ready? Let’s do the shoot! Here we go! I always knew that there’d be some post-processing to do with this picture but you don’t have to do everything I’m going to show you but if you’re going to do one thing it’s probably going to be snow Now if you’re lucky, you have some “real fake” snow in a can like this here but you don’t actually need this because we’re going to add some “fake, fake” snow using Photoshop. Now to do it, I’m going to head over to my blog at www.gavtrain.com find the Instant Snow V2 photoshop action and download it for free, unzip it and install it. You’ll find a link to that in the description below. Now I’ve already done that so let’s have a look and see how it works. So I’ve got four types of snow with this action and I’m going to choose the second one down; heavy snow. I’ve already got the picture of Lauren ready to go, so all I’m going to do is click on the play button and let the action do its thing. Now what it does is to create three different layers of snow. It’s all automated and it just takes a minute or two to complete but once it’s done, I can control how the snow appears in front of Lauren, so if I choose the top layer and I go get a paintbrush with a nice big brush, maybe not quite that big and make sure that Black is my foreground color, I can just paint away any bits of snow that are in front of Lauren on that layer. Then the middle-sized snow I can paint that away as well and then the small snow from her face like that now some of the snow in this picture is actually real fake snow so I can’t just paint it away and that’s fine, I like that, it looks really good. Once you’re done and you’re completely happy just go up to layer and then flatten image. Now we’re going to talk about the lighting in this picture because the lighting is pretty good but it could be slightly better particularly with this. So this is the lantern and I want to light the lantern but it’s never going to work, this is really old and just doesn’t work, so I’m going to light that inside of Camera Raw, so to do that, let’s go to filter and then Camera Raw filter and from here I’m going to get the adjustment brush now to light the lantern, I need to set a few things up. I’m going to put the temperature all the way to maximum and in this case also the tint as I’ll take the exposure and put that all the way to maximum, the highlights all the way to maximum and finally the clarity which is going to go, yeah you guessed it, maximum. Everything else is zeroed out. Then with a nice small brush with one or two clicks, I can actually light the lantern like that. Now if the lantern was lit there would be a nice warm glow around it, so let’s add a warm glow by clicking on the new adjustment brush. This time I’ll leave the temperature and tint alone but bring the exposure down to just under a stop. I’ll lose the highlights and I’ll lose the clarity and with a bigger brush we can just add a sort of a nice warm glow around the lantern like that. So that works really well but there’s a little bit more lighting effect, I want to do here, but because I’m in a small studio sometimes you can’t light things exactly how you’d like and Photoshop can really help with just little adjustments for example a bit more contrast on the right hand side of the bench a bit darker basically, so for that I’m going to use the radial filter. I’ll take the exposure down maybe a stop and a half, everything else is zeroed out and I’ll just drag out a nice little sort of, a bit of a vignette that just covers the left-hand side and makes the right-hand side darker and whilst I’m there let’s add a bit of clarity and just so the bench stands out from the darkness a little bit clearer, so I’m happy with that click OK and that leaves me one more thing to do. Now in the video when I was doing the shoot, I said what I thought was above Lauren there is some sort of street light and that’s the light that’s actually on Laurens face so to really make that obvious, I’m going to apply a small lighting effect. Now to do it, it’s going to be a layer so let’s go to layer, New and layer, click OK and then I’m going to get a nice big paint brush yeah about that sort of size and I’m going to paint a little splodge of light. Now the color of light needs to fit in with the theme of the photo so I could choose a foreground color from the picture or I could choose one that I feel is about right because I think a lighter blue would probably be about that, yeah about there, let’s try that one, one click and see how that looks. That looks great we’ll just drop the opacity down a little bit just so that blends in really nicely and just gives that little bit of a glow in the top left corner and with a few more tweaks and adjustments there it is; my snowy winter bench picture is completed. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video, don’t forget to leave me a comment below. If you want to see more videos for myself and the other amazing presenters right here on AdoramaTV, you know what you got to do you got to click on that subscribe button and click the bell icon. I’m Gavin Hoey, thanks for watching.

100 Replies to “Winter Portraits in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. Every time I change the clarity slider in camera raw or lightroom I remember about Gavin Hoye. But unfortunately it is not enough to be as cool as Gavin 🙁 Luckily (or not luckily) for me in Russia I don't have to fake snow in winter landscapes but it is really hard to shoot falling snow using only off camera flash so I use Gavin's action almost all the time and it is really cool to add falling snow to a picture to make it complete

  2. Absolutely, one of the best ever Gavin Hoey photographs/video ever. I learned tons! Stay warm, Gavin and thank you for your wonderful presentations

  3. There is no other human who can say the Adorama promotional text like sir Gavin. Such an adorable presence each and every time. Appreciate every video you make Gavin!

  4. As always just beautiful! Gaving is number one presenter and photographer. The small studio never seem to limit his imagination. Thanks again and can't wait to see more!

  5. wow amazing video, i always watch your tutorials and it’s really great . but i have question how you add smoke ? and how i can add smoke without a machin

  6. Thanks Gavin. I think your tutorials are far more important to take the photography game to the next level for a budding and enthusiast photographer.

    I'm sick of camera review videos…

  7. Another great video from your hand. Lots of nice easy tricks to make the pictures look fantastic. I especially like that you show every step from setup, shooting and post-processing.

  8. Fantastic video yet again Gavin, Just like to make a suggestion if you don't ming Gavin when you put a light in the storm lantern the colour should be a tad warmer as they burn a wick and paraffin and that should send a warm edge or warm glow to the right hand side of your subject which is what it would look like in real life . But still keep on doing fantastic videos. I never miss one . Gavin where can you buy that snow spray can;t find anyone in the Uk that stock it.

  9. Gavin, I followed you, and your excellent tutorials, since your days, at Digital Photography Magazine (U.K.)! Well done, as always.

  10. Ever since I got into photography at the age of 16 you have got to be the single most important person in terms of who has taught me the most. I learnt off you on the DVD’s from digital photo mags and then when the internet videos came about continued watching your videos. Still watch the content you make and pick up tricks I forgot and have yet to discover, just wanted to say a massive thanks. Have a great Christmas and new year and keep the brilliant content coming.

  11. When your subscription notification indicates Gavin has a new video 🙂 Make a quick brew and kick back. I've been watching Gavin for years and don't think that I have ever seen a bad video. I can't wait to try Snow V2, I used V1 lots of times. Thanks Gavin.

  12. I look forward to every video you make. As an instructor you are hands down, my favorite and the easiest to follow.

    Wondering, just how big is your "small" studio? You always create such amazing story telling images there

  13. Hi,Gavin! Excellent video,as all your videos.I have a little problem:I can't open the link with action.Can I get action by other way?Thank you,Best wishes from Russia!

  14. Such a great tutorial! I recently discovered Adorama tv, and your videos are simply amazing! Wonderful content and impeccable presentation. Thank you!!!

  15. The theme is cool, but its actually not a good picture from the model. She looks older compared to a frontal lighting. 0:36 vs. 8:47 I think you should fill those shadows a bit more in her face.

  16. Great video, I really like your presentation on all the videos that you do.  I would love to see something on your small studio such as size and how you set it up.

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