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Behind the Scenes: The Crown of Loda – Conceptual Photography Tutorial Color Grading


I am surrounded by inspiring and creative people.  I’m not sure if this happened on purpose or if it’s something I lucked myself into, but I truly am a fortunate dude. Between my family and friends, the people I work with, and my amazing studiomates (shout out to my man Mike Schacht – whose silky smooth lighting and color grading techniques are just top notch), not a day goes by where I’m not impressed by something they’ve done or created.

This week was no different.  The day before this shoot, my partner Christine and I had attended the totally amazing and awe-inspiring comic book convention, Wizard World.  For those who have never been, think of it as a mega-gathering for all of those into comics, video games, anime, table top games, and generally anything considered to be on the nerdy-end of the pop culture spectrum (to be fair, that stuff is the best).  In the spirit of the festivities, attendees often dress up and create elaborate costumes of those characters they love the most.  This is called cosplaying. Let something be known: Cosplaying is awesome.  I looooove this shit.  Some of the costumes these people create are just unbelievable.  Seriously!  Check some out here!

While I’ve never dressed up as anything myself (other than on Halloween, obvi), I love the positive vibe and creativity these creators bring to the table. Costumes (some more elaborate than others) have always played an important role in my work and all I can say is going to Wizard World has only made me more dedicated  to pursuing this angle further.

Getting back to how I’m such a lucky dude…

This is a photo of Christine making me the headdress piece you see in The Crown of Loda.  What a badass chick, am I right?

Final product:

Model: Rose Doetsch (She’s so cool! So happy to have met and have worked with her!)

Gear Used:

These photos were shot with a big white V-flat, 41″ Elinchrom Umbrella, and 135mm.  The Umbrella was bounced into the V-Flat (Really was just a piece of poster board) held above and to the right of the models head.  The only changes between the two photos is the positioning of the model and how far they’re standing from the v-flat. The diagram looked similar to this:


Post Processing

This was a two-step process.  I did most of the coloring in Lightroom, and then the clean up in Photoshop.   Download the Lightroom preset and Low-Res Photoshop PSD file below for one of the photos!

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Steven Kowalski

About the author

Steven Kowalski: Portrait photographer based in Chicago. Teacher. NYU grad.

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