Like most of my SXSW portraits, so far, I shot this at the Nat Geo Further Base Camp, a venue transformed from an ordinary 6th Street Bar. It appears to be a joint venture between National Geographic and Vox Media. I spent a decent amount of time there last Friday, not only because it was an interesting place — packed but not overpacked with people — but perhaps more importantly, they had an open bar. I figured it was a good way to spend my birthday, downtown within the SXSW crowd, but without attending the conferences.
Ari was stationed by the front stairs, on the second floor, actually working the event. She was nice enough to pose for this portrait. In fact, unlike the previous batch, the next few days will feature Nat Geo Base Camp staff.
Unlike yesterday’s portrait of Jimmy, where I messed up the exposure and resorted to RAW, I’m happy with the out of camera JPEG of Ari, created with the Olympus PEN-F. You can see it below. But on a whim, I decided to post process the RAW file, which I liked even better — displayed up top.
I’m satisfied with both photographs but the JPEG version seems a little flat. If you look at Ari’s face and her black t-shirt, you can see that the highlights and shadows are evened out. My processed RAW version maintains the variability in light levels which gives more dimension. It’s subtle but makes a difference. Also the background of the JPEG looks a bit strange, with grayed out details.
The gratifying thing is that I can produce black and white conversions from RAW that are pretty good, and sometimes better than what I get from the in-camera version. I’ve shot a lot of black and whites lately and I’m starting to scrutinize what I get. Luckily I’m shooting both RAW and JPEG so I have a choice.
Even if I don’t use the in-camera JPEG, shooting in this way allows me to see and compose in black and white. It helps me to visualize in monochrome, which I find particularly useful. After all, much of the appeal of these super contrasty black and whites are how you handle the shadows.
Day four of the SXSW Portrait series.
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