most it must be some secret photoshop trick, or some very expensive camera and glass. Although I do use photoshop and a MF camera this is however not where it comes from. I have started teaching workshops and releasing instructional DVDs for the simple reason I found out that 99% of the photographers asking these questions are not shooting the way it supposed to be. I’m a firm believer that when you setup a shoot you should have the correct results straight out of the camera, or if you know your workflow use the light needed to get the endresult you want. There is NO way you can fix something in photoshop that is better than when you shot it right from the start.
In the workshops I try to teach photographers to go back to the state where you can trust your lightsetup and get stunning results straight out of the cam (and use photoshop to finish it, although it’s not really necessary to be honest for some people). What we do in the workshops is teach the students how light works, and more importantly how to manipulate the light and how to measure it. I don’t believe in all the urban legends about the histogram and fix it in photoshop. I teach the students how to calibrate their meter and how the system works, in other words your meter and understanding the light are the most powerful weapons a photographer can have. This way you will never ever wonder if your black background will turn black or if your white background will still show a little detail or should blow out.
Only studio ?
There is no photoshop trick to give you stunning results. There are simple lighting tricks that can look stunning without a big investment or dragging a whole studio outside. When you have a technique that relies heavely on photoshop (like the populair animated look) remember that the basis for that shot ALWAYS is the lightsetup, when taking for example Dave Hill you can never get that look if you don’t use the lightsetup he uses. Working with composition/posing/styling and communicating with your model is just as important as previous mentioned items.
I’ve been teaching for some years now and am very active online, 99% of the questions are about getting that wonderful shot that is shown as sample, however the questions are always about photoshop and the images shown that should look like sample are totally different lightwise, somehow people really expect a wonder filter for photoshop that makes everything else. For me it’s very simple, learn how to take the shot, learn to understand and look at the light, work your shadows and angles and you will improve considerably as a photographer, photoshop for me is about 5-10 minutes per shot but only to make it 100% the way I want it and I can’t fix on location (like skin etc.) I will however not take away shadows or change the light.
To see the light you have to understand the light.
To understand the light you HAVE to see the light.