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Archive 2012 · New to flash and portraits
  
 
jayco
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p.1 #1 · New to flash and portraits


Hi,

A little introduction first, since I am new here! My name is Jeremy, I live in Manchester, CT. I just moved last year from Europe and photography is now my number one hobby. I used to do airplane spotting with my dad, but I don't live anywhere near a major airport so I am trying trying something called "diversity"

I also just purchased a flash for the first time and was playing with it - this is a picture of my 6 months old son, who apparently really enjoys being my test subject. I used a fluffy blanket, which shows around his ear. Aside from that, how can I make this better ?

http://500px.com/photo/4945882

Thanks !



Feb 12, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Bob Jarman
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p.1 #2 · New to flash and portraits


Looks great to me - well done!

Wonderful subject too. Please share more with us.

regards,

Bob



Feb 12, 2012 at 06:55 PM
jayco
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p.1 #3 · New to flash and portraits


Thanks, I'll do my best


Feb 12, 2012 at 07:41 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #4 · New to flash and portraits


Excellent!!!


Feb 12, 2012 at 09:30 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #5 · New to flash and portraits


Very nice. Cute kid!


Feb 12, 2012 at 09:55 PM
 

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cgardner
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p.1 #6 · New to flash and portraits


That one turned out quite nice. The lighting is quite nice.

What you did, perhaps without realizing it, was to keeop the angle of the flash on the reclining face more or less similar to the angle that winds up looking most "normal" in an upright shot.

It's a perceptual quirk, but when looking at faces in photos our brains try to match the contrast pattern created by the lighting to the mental image of a face seen in "normal" lighting in the full upright position, like this...







Rotated 90 you may find the face easier to relate to than when seen horizontal (I find that is true for myself). Rotating the face into the orientation they are normally seen also makes it easier to objectively evaluate how well the key light angle to the face modeled it's natural shape. Quite nicely here, but you'll note in this vertical view the angle of the key light is slightly below the eye line. Even in the horizontal view if you positioned the key light over top of the head you'd wind up with more natural modeling, per the mental baseline of what a face normally looks like in natural light when upright. Try both ways next time and compare you'll see what I mean.

The mental image pattern of a face is one lit from above with the key light 45V over the head relative the eye line, then either "noon day" centered in the nose vertically (for full face views) or 45 H to the side of the nose for oblique views like yours. If you use the 45V0H "butterfly" strategy for full face views and the 45V45H "short" strategy for oblique views of faces the net result will always wind up looking naturally 3D and flattering because that's the angle of natural lighting that forms our perceptual baseline for what seems "normal".

In terms of posing, propping a baby at angle with pillows or couch cushions covered with a sheet will make it easier for the viewer to relate to the faces. For example here's one rotated to 45 which is a happy medium between vertical and horizontal.







As for light vs dark backgrounds? On a black background when there is a lot of negative space it tends to create a "baby floating in space" look. Shooting on white backgrounds creates a softer overall look I find more in context with infants. You also get bounced fill to open the shadows for a softer look. The choice of plain clothing was a good one as patterned outfits while cute in person tend to become distractions in photos. Keep stage lighting in mind when holistically looking at the contrast of face, hands, feet and clothing. Decide which is the "star" on that particular shot and put it in the "spotlight" (i.e. the brightest part of the key light). Choose clothing and background with that in mind too find combinations of clothing / background / lighting that make the front of the face contrast the most and it will automatically become the star in the "spotlight" which attracts and holds attention.



Feb 13, 2012 at 03:10 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #7 · New to flash and portraits


One of the reasons I like this image is because it's natural and yet somewhat unconventional. Back in the day I photographed literally thousands of infants, mostly vertical or reclining at about at the suggested angle.

One suggestion for helping pose an infant, especially one who shows camera shyness or is too young to have sufficient strength and coordination to sit is an old photographer's trick. (I've seen it in images from the middle 1800's.) Seat the infant's mother. Place a cloth or blanket of some kind over the mother's lap. Place the infant on the mother's lap and have her hold the infant in position from the back of the cloth. This allows the infant to feel secure. Holds the infant still and prevents a fall.



Feb 13, 2012 at 06:29 PM
jayco
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p.1 #8 · New to flash and portraits


Oh boy that's a lot of information I didn't know

I did try to bounce the flash so it would look natural but without prior experience I just tried a few different angles and surfaces with this one looking the best. I may try the white background soon, but I do like the black - maybe it will look better for a shoulder-head portrait.

Thanks !



Feb 13, 2012 at 11:11 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #9 · New to flash and portraits


AuntiPode wrote:
One suggestion for helping pose an infant, especially one who shows camera shyness or is too young to have sufficient strength and coordination to sit is an old photographer's trick. (I've seen it in images from the middle 1800's.) Seat the infant's mother. Place a cloth or blanket of some kind over the mother's lap. Place the infant on the mother's lap and have her hold the infant in position from the back of the cloth. This allows the infant to feel secure. Holds the infant still and prevents a fall.

Here's a variation of that technique. The young lady sitting in the chair is my mother. Her brother, Karl, is standing next to her. My grandmother, Rena, is behind the chair holding on to the mischief maker. Photo is ca 1919.




Feb 13, 2012 at 11:37 PM
jayco
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p.1 #10 · New to flash and portraits


I tried that but the mother has even less patience than the little guy ^^ but it certainly worked to make him sit.


Feb 14, 2012 at 04:31 AM





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