Master Class
Classic Photographs Are Made In The Camera; They’re Simply Raised To A Higher Level In The Darkroom—Be It The Traditional Or Digital Kind Page 2

Fortunately, they didn't have to wait for me to process the pictures in a darkroom. After seeing just this first picture I had them in the palm of my hands. They did whatever I requested without question. They were flipping out at what they considered some of the greatest pictures they had ever seen.

I asked all of the student photographers to find their own locations for portraits, but ended up photographing all of them in locations that I had found myself. I explained how I needed to control the light for good portraiture. I wasn't making snapshots, I was creating real portraits.

My next location was inside a stone building where people were allowed to cook on grills. The building afforded cover overhead. There was direct sunlight coming in. I had two photographers hold up a Westcott translucent panel to soften the strong, direct light to soft, diffused light.

I posed the young lady in profile and turned her to achieve my normal lighting pattern that I use for almost all of my portraits. The only finishing I had to do was to slightly tone down the foliage outside the building. I opened the shadowed areas slightly by making a "contrast negative." With film I used to make a black and white contact negative from the color negative. Then I sandwiched them together and printed through the two of them. This opened up the shadow areas to show detail where it ordinarily would have been outside the range of tones that could have been printed with detail.

Now, in my digital Photoshop (CS) darkroom, I use Image/Adjust/Shadow and Highlights. What a difference it usually makes, opening up all the dark tones just enough to show the detail for which I'm looking. I have the default for the shadows set to 13.

I explained to everyone that this first picture was not a picture of the couple. It was, instead, a picture using the couple as scale to show the height of the trees. This picture and all that were created by me that evening were done with my infrared camera.

Going outside again I saw a nearby tree that offered a great frame for one of my typical poses. I leaned the young lady on the branch in the foreground and turned her face to profile. I adjusted her face for my regular lighting pattern. Then, the sun came out again, making it impossible to photograph the scene without her squinting her eyes. Once more we used the translucent panel to soften the light. To complete the picture I placed the young man behind her, turning his face toward the light rather than turning his face toward her and lighting up the back of his head.

While the others were doing their own thing with the model teen-agers, I found one of the girls standing alone and decided to try a technique that I had used many times before indoors, but never outside. I posed her framed within the branches of another tree, using the late afternoon sun to highlight the right side of her face. I then used my silver reflector to wrap the light around onto the left side of her face.

Monte's November class in Hollywood, Florida, will be a first. He's combining the talents of his Photoshop guru, Eddie Tapp, together with his regular portrait class. For details, contact Monte via e-mail at: The dates are November 7th-11th. The cost is $1000. It'll be digital portraiture start to finish--from the concept in your head to the output and sales. "Everything," Monte says, "will be hands-on!"