Incense

by Bart Arondson

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I am interesting in achieving results like Andrzej Dragan's portraits. I have been through lots of tutorials, but none of them actually provide good enough results. What major steps should I follow in terms of shooting and processing to get such results?

Also, why does this effect not work really well with faces that do not have wrinkles/creases?

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Hey that's pretty cool! –  J. Walker Apr 9 '12 at 22:29

1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The thing missing from the tutorials you been reading is probably in the preparation of the original image, and the missing ingredient, years of experience and practice!

Dragan could be the most imitated style on the internet with the possible exception of Dave Hill. Dave gets paid a lot of money for the shoots he does, despite the plethora of tutorials online promising the Dave Hill look. It seems there's no substitute for the real thing.

This is not to say you shouldn't try, just that you shouldn't expect an online tutorial to reproduce the results of a seasoned pro.

To get you started along the road to perfecting the look you want I would suggest the following:

  • Start with the correct subject. You ask "why does this effect not work really well with faces that do not have wrinkles/creases?" — this is due to the fact you can' create contrast without some sort of detail, or you'll just wind up with a huge amount of noise as there's nothing else there to enhance in a perfectly smooth face! This brings me on to the next point:

  • Lighting. You need sculpted light to give you something to work with in the image. Hard lighting and strongly directional light will get you close. A high-resolution image which is properly exposed, sharp and in focus will make everything easier.

  • Experiment and understand the relationship between global contrast and local contrast and techniques to manipulate both of these.

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Yep. As with all questions like this, the reason they miss is that they aren't the photographer. :) –  John Cavan Apr 9 '12 at 18:45
    
@JohnCavan I am just curious to know the workflow. I do not expect my images to be as good as Dragan and neither do I think any tutorial is going to achieve something like that, Unless ofcourse it is the tutorial from the photographer himself. –  Vaishak Suresh Apr 10 '12 at 14:13
    
@VaishakSuresh - My comment wasn't aimed at you, it was aimed at the tutorials. :) –  John Cavan Apr 10 '12 at 22:49
    
Regarding faces, I vividly recall a discussion I once had with a Filipino street artist in Manila. I noted that nearly all of his sample artwork on display (charcoal sketches) depicted Caucasian or African celebrities, not Filipinos. Without hesitating he replied that the average Filipino face was smooth, round, and soft and therefor not only difficult to sketch but boring. In his opinion they were, by comparison to Western ethnicities, featureless between the eyes and the chin. It was an interesting observation that has stuck with me. –  Andrew Heath Jan 31 '13 at 5:13

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