A Gentle Smile





Community Choice Award
Runner Up in Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 36
Contest Finalist in Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 36
Peer Award
Superb Composition
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Top Choice
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Outstanding Creativity
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Absolute Masterpiece
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Superior Skill
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Magnificent Capture
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All Star
Vitaliy_SN Frozen_Time

Top ClassTM

Color Explorer Photo ContestTop 10 class
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ViewBug Photography Awards 2018Top 10 class
ViewBug Photography Awards 2018Top 10 class week 2
ViewBug Photography Awards 2018Top 10 class week 1
Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 36Top 10 class


Behind The Lens

I had been interested in doing a rooftop sunset shoot with my friend Gi for a while. Since I primarily shoot at night I figured this would be a great change of pace. A quick conversation with a friend of mine living in the Upper Westside in NYC produced the exact rooftop and timing for sunset that I needed.
Still one of my favorite shots to date, this photo was captured around 6pm just as the sun was beginning to set. Ironically enough we timed it around Happy Hour so there were several rooftop guests who were sharing drinks and watching the shoot unfold. A few more "oohs" and "ahs" would've made the shoot the viewing event of the month.
As a fan of natural light I played around a bit, physically moving and spinning Gi around to see where the ideal amount of light would be. While doing this I saw that the sunset was hitting the building behind her giving a nice soft pink and orange glow that contrasted the blue tones of the floor of the rooftop. My aha moment happened and my camera went straight to my eye. Noteworthy about my understanding of light for this shot is that with Sony’s electronic viewfinder I have transitioned to shooting primarily in the black and white setting which has significantly increased my understanding of how light hits my subjects as well as how shadows can be manipulated.
My equipment for this shoot consisted of my Sony A7ii with a Canon 50mm f1.8 attached to an EFS to E mount adapter. A simple setup overall without any additional equipment added in.
My inspiration for this photo came to me as a series of disconnected events. When I met Gi I knew she had a great sense of style and a solid smile that would beam through in photos. I actually asked her to model for me a number of times over the course of a year since I knew we could produce this level of magic together, however she was camera shy and the time hadn’t been right. In addition to this I saw several friends post iPhone photos from rooftops on social media, and I remember thinking that their photos could be more appealing with a bit of the photography magic I had in mind. This coupled with a chance visit to see a friend in NYC placed me on his rooftop, everything clicked at once and I immediately knew this shoot needed to happen with her.
I use Adobe Lightroom for a majority of my post processing, but it’s typically for color, contrast, highlights, and shadow adjustments. For this shot I added a slight haze to the image and modified the highlights and contrast. I then moved on to the Color tab to adjust the blue tone from a dark dreary cold look to a more poppy light blue bubble gum feel. I then modified the harsh yellow tone of the sun hitting her skin to a soft orange tone before shifting the tint more into the pink region to finalize this shot.
In my camera bag
My bag typically has my Sony a7ii with a Neewer battery grip, Canon 50mm f1.8, Canon 16-35mm f2.8, Tamron 24-70mm f2.8, Rotolight Neo, Neewer Speedlight, Gary Fong collapsible lightsphere, fairylights, and an Amazon Basics monopod.
If someone wants to capture something similar, I would suggest making a connection with your subject and bringing them into your photographer's world. I refer to my world of photography as "The Ether" or a nicer version of the upside down. It inspires and draws your models into a different space. Considering this was my model’s first experience being photographed professionally and she was a little nervous about it, my vision filled her with the energy of my passion for photography which put her at ease. One of other aspect of my photography that truly helped me capture this shot is that I shoot in black and white to get the composition and impact of lighting correct in camera which means I am less distracted by colors not matching up etc. The mechanics for shooting though, use a full a frame camera with a 50mm lens to shoot if possible or a crop frame camera with a 35mm lens. Don’t hesitate to break the boundary between photographer and subject by reaching out to hold your subject’s hand. I always manually focus my camera, however this may be difficult with one hand or without a battery grip, so using eye autofocus or point focus on your respective camera will adequately lead to a similar focus result. When editing, it is good to remember that many colors naturally exist in the world so don’t hesitate to play with independent color channels and saturation to get a desired effect. I personally shift the tone of my blues and increase the luminance in my orange and yellow tones, however playing around in the Color tab of Lightroom will allow you to find your preferred color palette to create a variation of this shot for yourself.

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