Creative Portraiture| Andy Davis, Part II

Welcome to Part II of the Andy Davis creative portraiture shoot!  If you want to read up on part 1, you can do that HERE.

This is the first shoot featured on our brand new, about to release In the Raw video teaching series. For those of you who may have missed what In the Raw is, it’s where I (Zach), bring you along to creative shoots I have and I share how I execute the shoot from all aspects including gear, client interaction, lighting, editing and more. These shoots are rough and raw and I’m excited to share them!

This video series does not kick off until Tuesday, August 19th so in the meantime, enjoy Part II of Andy’s shoot!

Today we are going to break down one of the crazier shots that I did for this shoot.



This image, believe it or not, was shot this way in the camera using what is called a “ground glass” technique. Ground glass is the glass that you looked through on old Twin Lens Reflex style cameras (and many others).



You can pick up old cameras that don’t even work for a few bucks and what we are after is NOT the cameras ability to shoot, but what it looks like when you look into the optics before you shoot. Those optics can give you all kinds of cool effects and looks for your finals shot. In the below image, you can see part of the twin reflex cameras optics.



This is what you would see if you were looking down through the optics of the old camera and that is the texture that we want.


How I did it



This is the diagram of the second image of this post. I started by finding a cool backdrop at the studio, and then lit with one large main light heavily feathered off (pointing more towards the wall to camera right than toward my subject). Feathering it off helps the light not shoot all over the background and it also makes the light appear softer.

I then added my kicker lights to the shot (you can read about how to do this more on the first blog post).

Ground Glass

1. I first positioned the ground glass camera on a tri-pod (in my case, my friend actually made a ground glass camera with a focus screen and an old lens that was inside a cardboard box) and moved it so it looked right in the frame. Sometimes the image is reversed or even upside down and for the camera I used, it was both. I also have to manually focus the ground glass camera.

2. Take meter readings of your lights so you know what settings to start at.

3. Take your macro lens and use it to take an image of the ground glass that is reflecting the image of your client. Use manual focus to for the most accuracy.

4. Adjust exposure (if necessary) to get a proper looking shot. The ground glass camera I used soaks up 4 stops of light as the light passes through the lens elements, so you have to adjust accordingly. Some old cameras will not soak up any light, so you have to play that by ear as you shoot.

5. Get creative. I turned off all the lights in the studio just after I focused my cameras, and then slowed my shutter speed down to around 3 seconds long. This allowed me to use some ambient light from my iPhone to create alternate effects. Once I pressed the shutter button and the strobes flashed, I had a few short seconds to add light to the front of the ground glass camera. I have an app that makes my iPhone screen different colors like red and white, and then passed that in front of the lens to get more effects. Here is some examples of the final shots (remember, each shot will be different, so you have to try a few things to make it work right and if you have lots of ambient light, this may not work at all).


This image has the red iPhone app on in the center of the lens.


This image from my Two Way Crossing shoot (more info coming on this!), is using a red and white app that was swiped over the screen really fast to create this lighting effect.


This image from the Two Way Crossing shoot is pulled back slightly to show the inside of the camera. I also pointed my background lights directly at the camera in order to get lens flare.

You can create one unique image for your wedding, senior or portrait clients using this technique for a cool art piece for them. It takes a little time to do, but under the right circumstances, it can be great for all sorts of clients!

Show me More!

If you are excited about this type of shooting and want MORE, then we are really excited to announce the first of a few video teaching series we have put together called IN THE RAW! These videos are rough and raw and shot live during a real shoot, and then we added all the details of anything that was missed! watch the trailer below


PS. The first one comes out THIS coming Tuesday (the 19th) and includes:


In The Raw | Trailer from Zach & Jody Gray on Vimeo.

If you have ever wanted to learn more complex lighting, studio photography, creative portraiture and much more, than stay tuned this Tuesday for the opportunity to get it!