The Makeup Artist

The Makeup Artist - Austin, Texas

The Makeup Artist – Austin, Texas

The Drink and Click event with Olympus was a little different this time. They hired a makeup artist to touch up people before they got their profile pictures taken. I noticed that a number of women jumped at the opportunity — not so much for men. I too passed, since I don’t need a profile picture and I also had no desire for makeup. The exercise, however, was a good chance for me to create a high-contrast black and white. Here, we have Lauren doing the makeup for Neha.

Like the two other black and white photos in this series, I used the Olympus PEN-F and Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 lens. Also, like the previous two photos, I created the black and whites from the RAW file, which gave me more post processing latitude compared with the JPEG. With the PEN-F, I usually shoot in JPEG + RAW and I get to visualized the scene in black and white. But, I have the RAW if I want a color version or opt to create a different kind of monochrome. This is working really well for me.

Some of my readers have commented how different my RAW processed black and whites look from the built-in Olympus versions. The reality is, that’s on purpose. With the RAW, I can create a cleaner or sharper or higher contrast or lower contrast black and white. I get a lot more flexibility. I can also lift shadows or recover highlights and even burn and dodge selective areas. This is courtesy of the new Capture One software that I’m now using. The key is that I have control. But, the manual conversion takes more effort and I use the default JPEG, if that works for me.

The Makeup Artist - Austin, Texas

This second photo is the out of camera JPEG created by the Olympus PEN-F set to “MonoProfile 2”. I like this setting and I often use it unaltered. It gives a gritty and slightly soft film-ish look. As you can see from the photo at the top, created from the RAW in post, it looks very similar to the Olympus JPEG. I could have done a more radical change but I preferred a subtle recovery of the shadows, to show a touch more detail.


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4 thoughts on “The Makeup Artist

  1. It’s a very nice shot. I actually prefer the camera’s JPEG file here for the most part. It does a good job of creating a pleasing film-like grain in the highlights. You lose that in the raw conversion and the result is a bit sterile. The highlights on the model’s face became kind of ghostly. Some shadow detail is gained but it isn’t exposing any important details really. Maybe some local dodging on the model’s hair would keep the blacks from blocking up. The only thing I don’t like about the Olympus JPEG files is the odd handling of some blown lighting, like the light globes on either side of the makeup artist’s arm. Wonder if it’s a certain color that blows out weird like that?

    1. I noticed a couple of interesting things. My RAW converted JPEG looks different on different monitors. On my main computer, the 27″ Retina iMac shows a smooth transition from gray to black on the model’s face and arm. But on my older 27″ Thunderbolt display, the transition is very abrupt, enough to show a rather unsightly transition line.

      I do agree that the model’s face is a bit more bright on the RAW, which I just toned down somewhat. The bigger difference is that the Olympus JPEG also shows grain on the highlights. What’s evident is the there is quite a bit of sophistication in the Olympus JPEG. Something that in theory the RAW should be able to reproduce but may not, due to my skill level or available tools.

      Yes, I’ve noticed on occasion that the Olympus JPEG creates those weird BW conversions for certain colors.

      Ultimately, though, the intent of the post stands. When I need to adjust black and whites to suite my taste, the RAW is good to have. If however, I like the way the JPEG looks out of camera, there’s no reason not to use it. In fact, it may be preferable since it has a neat film-ish look that isn’t trivial to recreate.

      1. I gave up trying to post-produce what Fuji does in camera. I’m not that talented. Now you have me worried though – I only shoot JPEG these days and I wonder how bad my shots might look on older screens. They look OK on my screen and my prints so hopefully I’m OK.

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