Where I have been, what I have done, and why I did it

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Post Processing Challenge January

The December winning image – (you can see the voting here)




The January challenge:  This is a picture I took while driving on some of the back roads in Southern Illinois on a cold rainy weekend.  Below is the unedited straight out of the camera shot:





Below are two processed final images from the picture above.  I processed one and Johnathan processed one.  Which one is your favorite?


_MG_6160IMAGE A (Click on the image to view a larger version)


img6160IMAGE B (Click on the image to view a larger version)


Cast your vote:


Post Processing Challenge December

The December challenge is posted over at Jonathan’s blog.  The November winner was-


Post Processing Challenge November

A photographer friend of mine and I came up with an idea for a friendly competition. Each month for a year, we will process the same picture and ask for you to vote for a winner. After each month, the previous month’s winning picture will be announced. The photographer who processed the winning picture(s) will not be revealed until after all winning pictures have been announced. (12 months)

Who we are-

Jonathan D. Goforth is based out of Waynesburg, Ky. Jonathan has always been enamored by photography; from studying the stunning images in Sports Illustrated and National Geographic through his adolescent years.  He took the plunge into digital photography in 2007 when he received a Canon PowerShot S51S.  For more about Jonathan and to checkout his work, head over to his Flickr page or to his 500px page.

My name is Mike Sherrill and I’m based out of Paducah Ky.  I have been involved with graphic design and website development for over 15 years.  In 2010, I expanded into photography.  You can see more of my work at www.meshpointstudio.com or my Flickr page.

The October winning image– (you can see the voting here)





The November challenge:  This is a picture I took while in Orlando recently.  The image straight-out of the camera with no adjustments:




Here are the final processed versions by us:


IMAGE A (Click on the image to view a larger version)



IMAGE B (Click on the image to view a larger version)


 Cast your vote:

9/25/14 A Maternity Shoot

I was asked earlier in the year if I would take some maternity pictures.  I enjoy shooting portraits so I agreed to a shoot.  Below is the planning from start to finish.

The planning period- Where?  I was reviewing locations when Brittany (my subject) sent me a maternity picture she liked.  The concept of the picture was using a big window for rim light.  This narrowed down where we would shoot.  She had access to the vacant farm house in which her mother grew up.  I had been there several times, and I knew it had large enough windows for the shot.

The planning period- What’s the composition going to be?  For lighting, the setup was going to be simple.  I knew I wanted to use a window for rim light.  I also knew I wanted to provide a soft light to the front of her.  For the front light, I planned on using my 28 inch softbox.  The unknown at the time was how to handle the background.  I planned for two scenarios.  Scenario one would be to blur out the background with an open aperture (around f2.0) and extra light through the rim window.  Scenario two would be to retain some of the background detail with a smaller aperture (f8) and no added light to the rim window.

Time had come for the shoot.  We arrived at the farm house and I spent a few minutes walking through it to find the best location.  I found the window I wanted to use.  It was a window in the front room that looked out to the street that went back to town.  For some reason it hit me that this is a window her mom has probably looked out of a million times growing up.

It was time to setup and I quickly noticed I did not have enough room to place my softbox in front of Brittany.  Luckily there was a window in front of her so I placed it outside.  Below is a diagram of the setup. (EDIT – I accidentally left off the lens info in the diagram.  Canon 85mm 1.8)


Below is a picture from this session.


I was pleased with the outcome.

1/11/13 Doomsday Shot Compilation

Last year, I was invited by my neighbors to go trap shooting.  It had been a good 20 years since my last call to arms (dove hunting in ’92) so off I went.

I decided to bring my camera gear and for fun take a few pictures to process as a “Doomsday” theme.  Once we arrived and the shooting began, I surveyed the best spots to place my off camera flashes.  Below is the setup I used-


Some side notes about the setup:  I typically like to use some type of modifier to lessen the harshness of the flash.  However with the wind and more importantly the gun fire, I really did not want a large target getting in the way.  I wanted the highest flash to be my main and the safest location for it was behind / to the side.  This meant the camera view would be from an angle that would be hard to see a face.  I watched them shoot a few times and I noticed as they followed the skeet, there was an opportunity to get to the side and capture a face.

After a few trial and error runs, this is the one I decided to work with…below is the picture out of camera and ready for post process in photoshop –


My first steps – I added some contrast using Nik pro contrast around 25%, then I added a bit of vignette and the barrel smoke.


My next steps – I added some tone mapping to the subjects (dodge and burn), increased the smoke effect from the barrel and I added some subtle smoke to the shell extraction.


Next it was time to work on the texturing to give if that grungy feel.  I layered a texture (set it to multiply) and then added a mask to it so I could control how much of it I wanted to appear in sections of the photo.


At this point it was time to start getting the colors more uniform.  For this I used channel mixer, hue/saturation, warming photo filter and a curves adjustment.


On my last step, I added a bit more punch to it by adding another curves adjustment layer and a vignette layer that I overlayed at %50.


Click here to see the larger version.

2/19/12 Lighting Setup And Your Model

In this post I want to go over some things I look for when I’m setting up a shot.  First thing I always look at is how the model’s hair falls across his/her forehead.  This will typically tell me where I want to place my main light.  In this example I noticed my model’s hair fell over the left side of her face.  So where ever I moved her, I wanted to place my main light on her right side.

With the placement of where my main light will go, I then look at my setting to see how I can incorporate separation by either using a strobe or ambient for back light.  In this example, I noticed the sun was at an angle that was providing a nice warm glow.  I also noticed that there was a dark background with the trees.  I knew that I wanted this to be the backdrop with the sun coming in from the side to provide a subtle hair/back light.

Below is a diagram of the setup-

Below are a few shots from this setup-

On a side note, this particular setup sort of contradicts lighting in that many people would have reversed her stance so the main light would have been on the right side with the sun on the left.  But I liked this angle because it seemed to give more of a dramatic look with the sun.

12/28/11 Taking a Moment to Reflect

It has been a while since my last post.  Since this blog is about “Where I have been, what I have done, and why I did it”, I felt I needed to post this one.  This was hard to do.

Back in April 2010 my Dad was getting ready to have carpal tunnel surgery.  When he visited the hospital for a preliminary review, they did some other tests and found that it was something much worse.  He was diagnosed with Glioblastoma grade 4 (Brain cancer).  We received a phone call from mom and we immediately packed our bags and made our way over to Knoxville.  The Doctor said he needed to have surgery asap to remove as much of the tumor as he could.  The picture below is Dad with our daughter the day before the surgery.

Right before the nurses took Dad back to the operating room, I told him that when we see him again to give us a “thumbs up” if he recognizes us.  Many hours pass and the doctor called us into a room.  He gave us the prognosis and what he was able to do.  The Doctor then said we could go see him.  As soon as we came through the doorway my Dad glanced over and raised his thumb.

The initial recovery was slow going for him.  We stayed until he was able to come home which I think was about a week.

Three months later Mom and Dad came to our home for our daughters 1st birthday.  It really meant a lot to him and us that he could make it.  Below is a picture of him arriving.

He had some highs and lows over the next 16 months and we spent as much time as we could with him.  In October this year, we got news that things were not going well.  We made another visit that was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through.  We said our goodbyes while he was still cognitive.  Below is a picture I took of him and Mom.  I did not notice the tear rolling down his cheek when I took this.  My Mom saw it when I prepared it for the funeral.  This was taken on 10/15/11.

My dad passed away 12 days later a little after 2:00 a.m.  Mom and I were sitting beside him.

Love you Dad