You guys. You guys. Y’all…
I am SO thrilled to bring you this long-awaited Member Spotlight! Erica was kind enough to send me all of this wonderful information weeks ago – but I was so caught up in running the dull ol’ business side of things that I didn’t get a chance to get this up. But here she is….
Erica Bowton is a newborn, child and family photographer in Nashville, TN.
Her passion, and her gift, is turning photographs into art.
She is one of my very favorite photographers. I can’t recall a photo of hers that I didn’t immediately just gush over. Her photos have soul. They’re creative to the point of magical. I know my way around Photoshop like the next gal, but her pictures make me “How did she do that???” The colors and tones and details…So good. I truly admire her talent.
I’m also super grateful to Erica for being a “beta-tester” for HubHack, all the way back starting in August. We had a small test group, but their feedback was so critical in helping me improve this little idea into what it is now. (Ok, so it’s not Apple, but it’s a far cry from where it started!)
Enough talk, let’s do this.
You probably remember this amazing picture. It was posted on October 22nd. As of this writing, it’s gained 1036 ❤️’s and 88 comments.
It was featured by:
@ChildrenofInstagram Week Favs
The Shooting Details
This photo was shot with a Nikon D800 using a Nikkor 85mm 1.8G at ISO 800, f3.5, 1/250.
Erica said that she shot this backlit and from down low. “Since I was shooting with an 85mm, I was pretty far away from my subject.” (Amanda: I think that’s a great tip! I learned a few years ago from Meg Bitton that she actually lays down on the ground, on her belly, when she shoots with a long lens. That angle makes for a beautiful composition, plus cool lens compression in the foreground. If Erica had shot this standing straight up, I’m not sure we’d see the detail of the legs and bottom of the boot. Plus, the sunlight would have been higher in the frame, possibly off the top of the frame. By getting low, she keeps the light in the frame, which definitely adds to the beauty of the scene.)
The Editing Details
“I started in ACR and first fixed the color – sometimes shots in the woods are too green for me, so I increased magenta overall. I increased blacks and lowered highlights. In HSL/Grayscale I lowered the Luminance on Greens so the leaves did not overpower the scene and took up the Luminance on orange to make the skin pop and the sun brighter.” (Amanda: Huge tip right there, y’all. I do that same thing to nearly every photo. Always bump the orange luminance! Has a lovely effect on skin tones!)
“Then I ran VSCO’s Agfa Vista preset (found in two VSCO packs, here and here) and brought into Photoshop. I used Exposure Gamma Correction to darken the image quite a bit.” (Amanda: Wait, what? Gamma ray something something? Ok, y’all, I’ve never used that technique before, and there’s not any recent information on it, according to my trusty google searches. Here’s a decent description. But, I can tell you that I immediately went to Ps CC, and messed with an image to see how those sliders affected the image. Very cool.)
“I then inverted the layer and used a brush with low opacity to selectively darken the scene without darkening my subject. Next I desaturated the scene just slightly to give it a more moody feel. And finally I selected a color close to where the sun was peeking out, a light yellow, and used a feathered brush at low opacity to increase the sun effect through the trees. I used this same technique to add more light coming off the lantern. Then I applied an S shaped tones curve to decrease mid-shadows more and apply a matte effect. Voila.”
Very very cool, Erica!!
If you’d like to learn more from Erica, don’t miss out on Insta-Inspire, a star-studded photography retreat coming up this April 28th-30th in Stamford, CT.
(Y’all, please sign up for HubHack so I can afford to go? Pretty please?)
I also asked Erica to tell us more about what drew her to this image – why she chose it to edit and share…
“I liked this image because of the movement and the mood. I like how she’s facing away from the camera – it adds an air of mystery. And I wanted her running towards the sun, like she’s trying to get there. I purposely made the image much darker than originally shot to add to the moody, mysterious effect. I also knew I wanted a focus on the lantern and so I had to work in PS to make it stand out against the background. Compositionally, I positioned her in the rule of thirds with her red hair close to the intersection of two points. I always love to highlight hair moving. And I have her on the right running towards a path that disappears from the image, to give a sense of losing oneself on a path in the woods.”
And when I asked her why she thought it was so loved and featured by so many hubs…
“I think it spoke to the season, FALL! And I think people love a little air of mystery. Plus that red hair!”
Yeah, I totally agree!
Here’s the SOOC, thank you Erica!
And a side by side, cuz, why not?
You can find Erica’s beautiful work…
And her website: Artistic Nashville Child Photography
A huge THANK YOU to Erica for graciously sharing her secrets with us!
I’m a family photographer in Gwinnett County, Georgia.