Home · Register · Search · View Winners · Software · Hosting · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username   Password

  New fredmiranda.com Mobile Site
  

FM Forums | Photo Critique | Join Upload & Sell

  

Archive 2012 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone
  
 
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #1 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Okay ... so I'm stretching WAAAAAAAY out of my comfort zone on this one.

Deep breath, swallow pride and ask for hard core critique and explanation ... mostly @ posing, lighting, etc. unique to shooting people. These were supposed to be professional head shots, the lighting was the same for all four so explanation @ short / broad etc. vs. orientation etc. is appreciated. They are not sooc, so it's a combination of shooting & pp'ing that is being critiqued ... and I think you've got a lot to choose from for discussion.

I've avoided shooting studio portrait my entire life, but got "roped into" doing these as part of a dog & pony "charity" promo ... so this is truly a first time EVER effort into the foray of studio portraiture. I'm likely to be asked for more ... so I better learn to some things pretty quick. Just going over these in PP and I can see many things that went wrong, but will leave them to you for comment ... it's all fair game. These will only be used for something like a business card or photo id, so the requester wasn't concerned @ quality ... so I'm kinda safe with these. But if I'm gonna ever learn to do it for a more demanding application ... I figure these could at least be fodder for learning from.

BTW ... these are very tight crops from a 3/4 length shot. Shot @ f16 for max DOF because I couldn't see to focus well enough to accurately focus each shot ... indoor, weak modeling, slow C/Y 35-70/3.4 glass and I need new glasses ... f16.

NOTE: Shot on location in a small room with low ceiling.

Thanks guys ... I've got band-aids & whiskey, so I think I'm ready now.





















Edited on Aug 09, 2012 at 03:59 AM · View previous versions



Aug 09, 2012 at 03:33 AM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #2 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Sooc for reference ...







Aug 09, 2012 at 03:55 AM
evillemperor
Offline

Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #3 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Since I had my first portrait session a few months ago, it won't mean much from me, but I think they look good! I think they look a little soft for the most part, and I would've done some editing in post (ie removing unattractive moles, whiten teeth) but your lighting looks great!


Aug 09, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Camperjim
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #4 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


You have given me lots of help with my images so I wish I could reciprocate. I also wish I had the skills to do as well as you did...so that does not help either of us. I think these turned out really well with one minor exception. f/16 did not work well for the background. That is easily fixed with a little blur.




Aug 09, 2012 at 05:32 AM
AuntiPode
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #5 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


The largest problem with all of them is the thousand yard stare at someone/something high above the axis of the lens. That's rarely a good look for a portrait. Looking at or at least very near the lens makes a portrait engaging. Also, pose and framing needs work. The faces are posed with chins out and noses up. Not good flattering. Nose and chin size suggest the camera was too close to the subjects. Because noses and ears can continue to grow as we age, it's generally wise to move farther back and use a longer lens.

Other crits:

1. She has a forced grin smile that's nearly a grimace and she seems to be leaning backwards. Neither is good choice for a portrait. What looks to be a single light can be good for a woman of age if the source is broad and soft and originates above but closer to the camera axis. Casting shadows into the wrinkles isn't ideal, in general, for a woman.

2. The lighting is good, except that some light from the top and behind would better separate the top back of his head from the background. See the other comments above. Face is angled properly so the reflection from is glasses aren't a problem. The pose is static, but otherwise, color and exposure, it's the best in the posted series.

3. Three is the most problematic in the series: lighting problems, color, reflections in his glasses, and especially the pose that exaggerates his short thick neck, and make his head look misshapen - not flattering. OTOH, the pose at an angle was more dynamic than the other three.

4. A little more light on the shadow side of his face would help. The pose was tipping back, generally not good. Some cropping is also in order.





Tweaks to simulate different pose & less mock smile.







Tweaked to simulate more dynamic pose and crop.







Liquify & other changes to simulate pose, hair and glasses angle changes.







Changes to simulate better pose and more fill light.




Aug 09, 2012 at 10:27 AM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #6 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Thanks Karen,

+1 @ I took their eyes too high & too far off axis ... yield less engaging. I was concerned at staring into the camera, but took them too far away. Also, while I would have preferred more space and a longer lens ... these were shot from only 5 feet away as I was literally space constrained to that distance.

I wanted a higher camera position, but was maxed out on tripod height ... I thought about bringing in a stool, but chose to go with them standing. Value @ stool learned. Another individual is even taller and it came out even worse, coupled with him leaning back even more.

+1 @ woman's wrinkles ... she had many more than is evident here (courtesy of feeble PP skills for subject matter). Funny, I never even gave a thought to "side lighting" vs. "flat lighting" as a strategy to contend with it. I've typically been oriented toward bringing out texture ... never gave much thought @ hiding texture in reverse.

You mention "static" pose vs "dynamic" pose ... could you expand / clarify?
Also, contending with "short thick" neck better posing technique?

I've a long history of saying that a good portrait photographer is a far different thing than taking pictures of people, and that a good portrait photographer is good with people.

Having worked with these folks and seen the results ... it seems to fall into the realm of when I mention how sometimes we have to help the viewer a bit more than we might otherwise think. The need for giving good direction is quite obvious to me (since I was there). You would "think" that telling a person to "lean forward" or "chin down" would be an easy thing. Yet, despite my efforts to do so, you see the results ... i.e. you have to give better direction than you might otherwise think necessary.

I think it is pretty clear from the pics you can tell who was feeling ... "if I must" vs. "I want one". Again, I've historically pointed out the value of a good portrait photographer's ability to connect with the subject to get them to relax ... as it shows in the pics. Personally, I've been pretty good at getting static objects like railroad tracks & mountains to "relax" while I take their picture ... people, not so much. Of course, THAT would explain why I've knowingly avoided portraiture up to this point.

Flashback ... I did some work with models way back when (1980's) ... but that is WAY different from working with "regular" people. Good models know what they are doing, and are trained to understand the communication and direction from the photographer. Regular people are not ... thus the communication with regular people is more challenging than one might otherwise think.

Also, models are better able to "turn on" their mood and show the camera better "engaging" or "emotive" response. With regular people, it would seem more critical for a good portrait photographer to be able to "bring it out" of them.

I've long since felt that good portrait photographers were highly under-rated & under appreciated. In today's realm of techno-magic, photo wizardry ... people are still people and that hasn't ever changed, and never will. Sure, it's easy to take a pic of an enthusiastic child or an effervescent teenager ... but try a tired, worn down, regular Joe, working stiff and things change just a "wee" bit @ how easy it is.

Props to good portrait photographers. It is way more challenging than they make it look ... but I already knew that ... so much to learn.

Edited on Aug 09, 2012 at 01:38 PM · View previous versions



Aug 09, 2012 at 01:36 PM
dmacmillan
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #7 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Karen has given you some excellent pointers. One thing she didn't mention is camera height. It looks like your camera is below eye level on all of these. I prefer a camera height at or slightly above eye level.

Also, remember your days of shooting slides. For assignments like this, the more you can do in camera, the easier you make your job later. Composition, exposure, white balance, etc. should be correct at time of capture. Although I normally shoot raw, in a situation like this, I'd use my WhiBal card to capture a custom WB, then shoot everything with that setting. With a little care, you should be able to produce usable images SOOC.

I don't even know how to start with the f16. I don't wear my glasses when I shoot, I adjust the viewfinder diopter. Why are you manually focusing? In a situation like this, I use single shot autofocus and either set the focus point to the top center or set it to the center and focus and recompose.

Check out these tips from Peter Hurley :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe3oJnFtA_k



Aug 09, 2012 at 01:36 PM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #8 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Hey Doug, thanks.

+1 @ f16. I originally thought I'd be shooting in a large room with high ceilings and tons of natural ambient light. Turns out I was in a room that was about 8x8 with a low ceiling and no natural ambient light. That being said, I didn't bring any AF or fast glass, as my optics are heavily invested into well corrected, slow, manual lenses (being a non-portrait shooter).

With my camera height at max tripod (still too low & hence learned value of posing stool), it was difficult for me to attain a position (space constrained) to see using the "welded on" angle finder I have on my SLR/c. I could have "fiddled" with critical focus as I do in the field ... but chose f16 (fully aware of its inherent aspects) as a strategy to attain pre-focusing vs. having subjects watch me struggle with focus. (Lesser of two evils, if you will.) Also, from that close of a subject distance, I wasn't likely to get good background separation without critical focus anyway, so I used f16 as a "gross safety crutch".

I shot a test shot with a gray card, so I was able to reference it in post for WB. This was an exercise in "what could go wrong" ... did. I had prepared (mental/equipment) for a very different scenario and didn't adapt very well, but "the show must go on". Someone else had "committed me" to this, despite my insisting I'm not a portrait photographer ... to which they reply "Oh, you'll do fine. We've seen your work". I'm thinking, but you haven't seen my portrait work, because there is NONE. But, I agreed to give it a try since it was an impromptu scenario they were throwing together and I was their "best option".


Kinda like getting a dentist to do his first heart transplant just because he's a really good doctor.


+1 @ viewfinder diopter ... but it isn't enough for me to be able to go sans glasses. +1 @ get it right in camera ... which I obviously didn't do. I didn't use my light meter ... going by histo only @ "expose to right" strategy for expedience.

Oh well, plenty of "lessons learned" here ... on many fronts. I'm sharing my "comedy of errors" (not funny) so that I can't simply "forget" them, but rather serving as a reminder for the need to properly attend to so much more than I did. At best, these are an attempt at a "save", much more so than a "win". Sometimes, we learn as much or more from our mistakes ... this one is teaching me much.



Aug 09, 2012 at 02:02 PM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #9 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Christopher & Jim,

Thanks for the vote of confidence ... next time I try to make lemonade outa lemons, it'll hopefully be a little sweeter, with a smoother flavor. For the intended purpose of these, they are drinkable for a day at the park with the kids ... but not quite what I'd want to serve to Paula Dean or Scarlet O'Hara.

Karen,

Did you simply "rotate" them a bit to render the more "dynamic" pose?



Aug 09, 2012 at 02:51 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #10 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Here's what went out the door @ 320px... thanks for the insight.
Not my finest hour ... but ya gotta start somewhere.


Additional comments are still welcome.





















Edited on Aug 09, 2012 at 04:46 PM · View previous versions



Aug 09, 2012 at 04:44 PM
dmacmillan
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #11 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


You might want to check to see if you can get a slip on viewfinder diopter. I don't know what camera you have or if they are offered. I have them for my film cameras (Canon and Leica). I don't like to use glasses because I can't see the full frame.

I hope you don't mind me using you as an example, but here's why you need to learn to just say no. I'm hoping others here take heed. I have people approach me frequently. I jealously guard my photography - it's for me and I only photograph what I want.

It's hard not to fall for the ego stroke when someone asks you to do photography, especially when they praise your work. You know better than they what falls outside your area of expertise and tools. A similar thing happens to piano players, people assume they can play organ, but they are two totally different instruments once you get past the superficial similarity of keyboard.

You said you were "volunteered". The better term is that you were manipulated. If you weren't consulted beforehand, you are in no way obligated to do something outside your comfort zone. I can't help but believe that showing up and finding a different situation that you expected, combined with not having tools to make the job simple and easy, had to be stressful. I bet the stress was more than just saying no would have been.



Aug 09, 2012 at 04:45 PM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #12 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Well, this occurred in conjunction with a couple of individuals who I'm partnered with on a "developing" (non-portraiture) venture.

I definitely accepted it as a learning opportunity, so I can't quite go with "manipulated" ... but it was not well thought out and many assumptions were made regarding my abilities / talent in this genre. For instance, I allotted an hour for setup, but only had about 30 minutes.

Mostly, I needed to take more control and should have stuck to my original strategies @ larger room. But ... even that wouldn't have made up for my people skills and posing knowledge. It would have just made my technicals a bit better. My people skills and posing / lighting @ ports are only going to develop with time & practice. Yeah, this was definitely a "trial by fire" entry, but I feel as though I survived it well enough (albeit barely) that I have something to build upon.

I'm typically a "slow worker" so when I get put into "speed mode" ... mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. Like I said, this was not a "manipulation" and I accepted it in the vein of "going out of my comfort zone" (which we often promote around here) as a "low risk" growth opportunity. I would have never ventured into the foray without others dragging me (which I allowed) into it.

It was anything but an "ego stroke" ... I've said "Nope, not me." at least a hundred times over in my life and am rather well versed at doing so. I'm still not going to become a professional portrait photographer ... too many way better than I ... but it was good to "stretch", even if a bit stress inducing. Being hindered by fear to not even try (historically), is now a thing of the past ... and THAT is a good thing, more so than the quality of the pics (this time).




Aug 09, 2012 at 05:08 PM
dmacmillan
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #13 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Good to hear that you weren't roped into it. I applaud you for branching out and attempting things out of your comfort zone. I understand it's hard to work under pressure.

I'm not immune from folding to the requests of others. A couple of years ago my father-in-law was rebuilding his church's web site and wanted to update the staff photos. After all he's done for me, I couldn't say no. I found myself like you, when I got there the situation was different than what was described and I was given half the time I thought I would have. As a pro I was used to working under pressure, but I've gotten out of the habit. I didn't do as well as I would have liked.



Aug 09, 2012 at 05:32 PM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #14 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


Doug ... yeah, that's a reasonably close scenario. Main difference being, I had ZERO experience @ studio portraiture to go along with it ... but I survived. I think I'll go climb a mountain, ford a river or stalk a pit-viper ... those things seem way easier (comfort zone) than shooting a "good" portrait in an awkward location.


Aug 09, 2012 at 05:49 PM
dmacmillan
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #15 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


RustyBug wrote:
I think I'll go climb a mountain, ford a river or stalk a pit-viper ... those things seem way easier (comfort zone) than shooting a "good" portrait in an awkward location.

Too funny! I know the feeling.

The good news is they looked like nice folks. That can make a big difference.



Aug 09, 2012 at 06:07 PM
AuntiPode
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #16 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


RustyBug wrote:
Did you simply "rotate" them a bit to render the more "dynamic" pose?


Yes. Rarely I may select a head and reposition it separately, but rotation is the main PP tool for trying to add a less static feel to a portrait. When the subject it stiff and straight they seem very formal and/or uncomfortable. It has a static look. When the subject is leaning, resting on a elbow and certain other poses, they look more comfortable, engaging, caught at a moment, in motion - physically or emotionally.

The most important tool for a portrait photographer to have is a good ability to engage a subject and distract them from the moment and generally amuse them. When I was in the biz fast talking was often a good tool they had to be focused on me to keep up and it left them no time to become self-conscious. Posing is another set of techniques. One of the most important methods is to illustrate what you want them to do with your own body, usually in mirror image. Hand gesture are often a good tool. Posture is vital. One method that works well with seated subject is to lightly grasp the subject's head with your thumbs on his scalp and fingers tips under his chin and gently lift. The subject responds by straightening his back and neck right into good posture. If he sinks back after you let go, do it again. If they don't get the first message, they almost always get the second. (BTW, female photographers may be able do this more readily. Males may need to ask permission first as it's something of an intrusion into body space.)

There is a body of knowledge and technique to making portraits. Hard to capture much of it in a few critique posts. Then there's the whole working with children set of techniques....



Aug 09, 2012 at 08:34 PM
ben egbert
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #17 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


First let me say that you have done a far better job than I could have done, and I like them all. But I suspect that AntiPode has given you some great advice.

Of them all, I like the first best and I sort of like the swirly background at the back of her head.

One idea I have for portraits and what I tell my grand-kids is to look natural. Smiles and grins are highly over rated, especially when they are forced.



Aug 09, 2012 at 09:09 PM
RustyBug
Offline
• • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #18 · Rookie Ports ... Uncomfort Zone


AuntiPode wrote:
There is a body of knowledge and technique to making portraits. Hard to capture much of it in a few critique posts.


Understood ... not meaning to reduce it to an oversimplification, just looking for a "jump start" into some proper direction / correction for expedient consideration.

The delivered product (albeit more PP than should've been) was well received, thanks to all for votes of confidence and guidance. It serves as a "launching platform" for future growth. A couple years ago, I followed Karen's lead @ layers and "committed" myself to learning more about them. This will likely serve a similar purpose of intent for learning yet another discipline. Being forced to recognize one's shortcomings can be an impetus toward growth. That's part of what I like so well around here ... others (in good spirit) are able to show where I've "missed the mark" based on their subjective & objective experience. Of course, still always mine to "choose to use" or "choose to lose" ... but the contributing input is always appreciated.



Aug 09, 2012 at 10:15 PM





FM Forums | Photo Critique | Join Upload & Sell

    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username   Password    Retrive password