How To Tuesday #16 - The Anatomy of a Photograph: An inside look into the photographer's settings and metadata / by Zack Smith

I often have people ask me what my settings were on portrait and documentary shoots so that they may gain understanding about the HOW and WHY of a photograph. I have never been one to hide how I make my photographs and I am happy to share with you a little "behind the scenes" look into my setups and camera settings. 

As a new Lightroom convert (student is more like it!) It is really easy for me to show you a screen grab of some of my recent images which shows all the important metadata and camera settings. The instant teaching power that digital photography has makes it so easy for us to view our settings immediately after we shoot it so we can make some quick adjustments. When we are in editing mode back at the office, we can use this important metadata to learn about our mistakes and successes as well as notice interesting patterns in our shooting styles. I hope you can gain some insight to your photography by taking a sneak peek into mine!

Rebirth Brass Band shot at the Michael Jackson Memorial 2nd Line. June 28th, 2009. ©Zack Smith Photography

Rebirth Brass Band shot at the Michael Jackson Memorial 2nd Line. June 28th, 2009. ©Zack Smith Photography

2nd Line Funeral for New Orleans Musician, Allen Toussaint. Friday, November 20th 2016

2nd Line Funeral for New Orleans Musician, Allen Toussaint. Friday, November 20th 2016

Late last year I had the privilege to photograph the funeral ceremony of New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint. You can see my gallery HERE. This is a great photo to see how I did it because the settings were very easy and no artificial light was needed. Above this photo is an image from my document of the Michael Jackson Memorial 2nd Line back in 2009. The metadata on these images are easy to read and replicate since there was no artificial light. You can easily read the file number, name, shoot date/time, and file size in the upper left hand corner. I really do notice time of day when I am looking at my metadata. Knowing when the good light will be available for you at each time of year can help you plan on what gear and grip to bring. In this case, no extra gear was necessary since I had to move around pretty quickly and make myself "small". In the bottom right hand corner you can see all of cameras settings from Time, Exposure, Focal Length, ISO, and Lens.

Musician and Composer Brendan Connelly standing between his custom designed offices, 2016 ©Zack Smith Photography

Musician and Composer Brendan Connelly standing between his custom designed offices, 2016 ©Zack Smith Photography

Here again, you can see the file name, date shot, and resolution in the upper left hand corner. For this portrait of musician and theatre composer Brendan Connelly, we decided to use his new custom designed and built offices as our dominating background. The colors were popping, the converging lines were leading my eyes and all we needed was light. The time of day we shot was not optimal for using only ambient light, so we had to add some....

2 light setup - Key Light: Paul C. Buff White Lightning 1600 with 60" Octabank Softbox 45º angle pointing down at my subject, about 10' in the air. The light is 6 feet to my left / to my subjects right side. My Rim Light is a Paul C. Buff White Lightning 1600 w/ a 30º grid and set 2 stops higher in power than my key light. It is positioned directly behind my subject. Lights were set off using Pocket Wizard Transceivers.  (if you are unfamiliar with the products, highlight them and google it!)

Cajun Musician Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers photographed for the French Quarter Fest 2016 Poster©Zack Smith Photography

Cajun Musician Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers photographed for the French Quarter Fest 2016 Poster©Zack Smith Photography

By now you can easily navigate your way around the metadata and cross reference the previous shot of Brendan to see what has changed. If you look closely will see the light on their face is the same, but the Rim Light is different. The great thing about learning to read metadata is that once you get good at it, you start to get good at reading photos. My lighting scheme is almost identical to the previous portrait but my Rim Light is off to the Left hand side of Louis, and not directly behind like the Brendan photo. As long as my shutter speed is in sync, i only need my aperture to adjust depth and light intake and my ISO to brighten or darken my entire scene.

Here a few more easy reads with some different Meta Data...have fun, and don't forget to ask ANY questions you want by COMMENTING on this blog post!!

Chalmette Battlefiled Foggy Morning, January 21, 2016 ©Zack Smith Photography

Chalmette Battlefiled Foggy Morning, January 21, 2016 ©Zack Smith Photography

A Chewbacchus Parade reveler gives his best Star Wars gaze! January 30th, 2016, Marigny - New Olreans ©Zack Smith Photography

A Chewbacchus Parade reveler gives his best Star Wars gaze! January 30th, 2016, Marigny - New Olreans ©Zack Smith Photography

Revelers at the Michael Jackson Memorial 2nd Line. June 28th, 2009. New Orleans ©Zack Smith Photography

Revelers at the Michael Jackson Memorial 2nd Line. June 28th, 2009. New Orleans ©Zack Smith Photography