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Archive 2013 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt
  
 
sbeme
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p.1 #1 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


semi-candid, natural light

Thanks
Scott



GoetzPhotoz 2013

  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    EF50mm f/1.4 USM lens    50mm    f/2.8    1/350s    100 ISO    -0.5 EV  




Jan 17, 2013 at 02:18 AM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #2 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


1. Looks like it was taken with a "normal" lens - not the most flattering choice, generally. To make the face large enough for the frame it requires you to approach a bit too close. This allows perspective distortion to make the features such as nose and chin a bit too prominent. If you turn her face somewhat to the side, it lessens the perspective distortion issue. (Note that getting close or closer can be used to slim the face, but you must take great care with the pose to avoid a big nose, chin or ear.)

2. To pose with shoulders square to the camera may add to a portrait of a male or help a person with narrow shoulders, but it's generally not flattering to a woman of a certain size.

3. Using selections or a brush to adjust the ruddy areas of her face would be a plus.



Jan 17, 2013 at 02:54 AM
sbeme
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p.1 #3 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


Thanks Karen. As you can imagine, I was looking forward to your feedback.
Keep getting that shoulders square to the camera wrong.
In addition to the ruddy areas touch up, what would you do about the darker and greener toned band under the chin?
Next time I am a bit more planned I will use my 24-105 at closer to 80 or so to avoid the distortion. Or my 100 Macro if I have a bit more room. As you surmised, shot with a 50 mm lens. Canon 50 1.4.

Scott



Jan 17, 2013 at 03:00 AM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #4 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


Perhaps using the liquify filter to partly simulate a more distant perspective, combined with selective color tweaks, dodging, sharpening, crop and retouching:







Jan 17, 2013 at 03:08 AM
eeneryma
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p.1 #5 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


Although you've wisely thrown the background out of focus, it is still somewhat distracting. One's attention goes from the woman's face to the gridded pattern on the right, which is tilting left and leaves an unbalanced feeling. When setting up the shot, I would rearrange and opt for a more neutral, uncluttered background if possible.


Jan 17, 2013 at 03:12 AM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #6 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


You could adjust the shadow under her chin, too. I'd suggest using a lens twice normal (@FF 100)mm to get a head shot, 75-80 for a wider head and chest shot and perhaps for FF 35mm something about 135mm for a closer head shot. Again, if you want to be slimming a closer shot with a normal lens or even a slight wide angle can work well, but it puts a premium on posing to avoid perspective distortions on the nose, chin and perhaps ear.


Jan 17, 2013 at 03:12 AM
 

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RustyBug
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p.1 #7 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


+1 @ the foreshortening effect of the nose & chin from that distance with that FL

The longer FL will allow you to be further from the subject when you "fill the frame". The additional distance will render the difference in foreshortening effect of the nose & chin to be less significant.

Moving something under a microscope an inch is a big deal. Moving the earth & moon an inch is insignificant. The "inch" of difference between the plane that the eyes, chin and nose are in remains constant. The camera to subject distance (with FL) can exaggerate (closer & wider) the foreshortening effect or compress it (further & longer).

This kinda explains why the 90-135 range (or so) is considered "portrait" lens. Not to say that other lens aren't appropriate for people, but the closer you get, the stronger the foreshortening effect accentuates the "inch" ( or two or three) of the nose & chin being closer than the eyes.




Jan 17, 2013 at 03:19 AM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #8 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


Good advice so far. The side light skimming the nose is unflattering. I think it would be more flattering to photograph this young lady in the classic 1-2-3 style: body at 45 degrees or so facing away from the light, face turned back slightly beyond square and eyes looking directly at camera. Another pose would be to short light her with a little stronger then normal lighting ratio.

You ask "Keep me learning". In addition to presenting us with semi-candid photos, if you want to learn portraiture I suggest you take a more intentional approach.



Jan 17, 2013 at 02:42 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #9 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


dmacmillan wrote:
You ask "Keep me learning". In addition to presenting us with semi-candid photos, if you want to learn portraiture I suggest you take a more intentional approach.


From a "this is what I had to work with" ... "I made the best of it I knew, whadya think?"

I think it is a pleasant image with its softer look, with the foreshortening, bg & light tipping on the nose stealing from it. I do like the lighting orientation that is illuminating her hair, with some specular light and that her face (except for that pesky nose being in a different plane ) is in the more diffuse light. Way easier to pick out the issues (armchair quarterback) after the fact than to see them at the time.

I actually kinda like the approach you took with the lighting and would consider using it again, just watching a bit more closely regarding the nose plane. Posing people is definitely not my forte' so I'll strongly defer there. This is where I think Doug's "intentional approach" is going to present a better return than the "trial & error" most dramatically .. which the concepts can then be "semi-applied" in lesser formal instances as well.

On a different note ... her expression seems to "almost engaging" There seems to be a slight degree of "apprehension" to her. Here again, is one of those areas where "good" portrait photographers know how to get the subject to reveal themselves ... and again, a strong reason why I'm NOT a portrait photographer. I remember reading a post from a fellow FM'er that was doing a portrait session with a businessman.

IIRC, he said that it was about 1 1/2 hours into the session of shooting before the subject finally began to become comfortable enough to relax (or some such word of choice) and the last 1/2 hour was where the "magic" happened. I mention that to point out that varying subjects require varying amounts of "expression extraction" as well as the posing, lighting, etc. issues that a portrait photographer must attend to. As such, the "semi-candid" can be a tough gig, so be judicious as to what standard/expectation you are comparing with/to.

Took a stab at some PP.

I tried to throw some "deplane" the foreshortening @ her nose a bit with some sharpening to the eyes and blur to her nose. Getting a good balance that looks natural is a trick. Same goes with BG blur, etc. They all work together to give the "push/pull" of the eye, so it can take some effort to get it the way you want it and look natural, but I tried to pull us to her eyes. Tweaks on gamma as well. Would like to have a bit more negative space above her to work with. Not sure how well I did, but you get the gist.

Also, a radical crop (if you've got pixels to play with) that kinda caught my attention while I was zoomed in.

As always, S&P to taste.














Jan 17, 2013 at 03:21 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #10 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


Good approach getting the sun behind her but better to put it directly behind with no sun hitting front / side of the face. That makes it more difficult to expose, even with flash, and creates a bright distraction which will pull attention off the darker front of the face on a dark background.

On the shaded side skylight hits the face from such a high angle the eyes and teeth will nearly always be shaded by brow and upper lip as seen here. The only solution is to get the face up into the light. Do that by finding something to stand on (bench, rock, etc) to get the camera higher and then have subject look up at camera getting the light in the eyes. Same face<>camera angle as ground level, but with better lighting and slight forshortening of torso which is slimming.

With sun directly behind the dominant downward vector skylight will create a centered symmetrical "keylight" highlight pattern on the face (butterfly /paramount pattern) with the omni-directional fill skylight vectors providing the fill. The sun behind acts as "hair" light.

Exposure without flash would be "Shady 5.6" to correctly expose the shaded face. Background and hair gets nuked, which is why you want to keep sun behind off any bare skin as much as possible. Locations where clear sky is behind the subject (top of hill, roof) will create, with the overexposure, a nice white seamless background like a studio shot.

With flash Expose for Sunny 16 keeping skin, clothes and hair under clipping before adding the flash. Whe adding the flash it needs to hit the face at the same angle the skylight is modeling the face already or the flash will cancel all the natural modeling and look like and indoor hotshoe flash shot: flat. That's why I always have my flash on a bracket raised over the lens. Raised the flash act like a second "harder" key light place in front of a bigger softbox (the sky). The Fill still comes from the omni-directional skylight vectors.

Exposure for the flash: but adjust by eye until the flash lit front of white clothing /skin is about 1/3 stop darker that the sunny parts (which are about 1/3 stop under clipping). What I do is set the ambient by raising exposure with aperture/shutter to the point of clipping warning then back off 1/3 stop, then raise flash power until the front side highlights clip and then back down 2/3 stop. No blown sunny highlights at capture ( you can blow them in PP if you like) with the front side 1/3 stop darker which in backlight looks perceptually normal. What I'll do in PP is use a masked screen layer to lighten the face area if need.

Shooting distance is what affects near/far nose vs ear size on a face. If shooting with a "normal" lens it's more flattering to shoot from 8ft and crop in PP than crop in camera from 5-6ft and distort the face with bigger than normal nose vs. ears. I find 8ft matches "seen by eye" nicely with any FL lens. That's my starting baseline but when time allows will try further / closer and compare. The advantage of shooting systematically from a standard distance when using flash is you can pre-set the manual flash power for the shaded side nearly perfectly based on previous experience.

This is an example of what I described above: single flash on the bracket w. my small DIY diffuser with sunlit river as background. She was standing on river bank about 3 feet below me which got face up into the skylight before adding flash. Since flash highlights and matches angle of dominant skylight vector the patterns of flash and ambient highlights overlap. Because most of the face in highlighted and shadows fall down behind the lack of fill isn't noticed much (the skylight fill is inadequate with exposure changed to Sunny 16). When shooting with two flashes in that situation I'll put the slave below raised camera, chin level with subject.







It may seem complicated but with a flash on bracket set in advance for manual exposure at 8ft (or your chosen shooting distance) its just a matter of finding something to stand on and saying, "Hey look up here!" I've been shooting candids outdoors that way for years. Natural flash lighting outdoors is just a matter of posing the face to the skylight first then adding the flash as "key" not "fill" at the same vector the skylight is modeling the raised to skylight flash with the bracket

Here's another example of a wide shot showing capture > editing workflow:






With a wider shot with subject in the middle ground overexposure of the flash lit foreground is unavoidable with the flash on over the camera falling off front > back hence the multiply layer to tone it back down.







Jan 18, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Eyeball
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p.1 #11 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


I had to give it a shot, Scott. I used Lens Correction to adjust a bit for distortion and tried to add some highlights to the face without burning out the ones that were already there. Really a pretty solid shot to begin with IMO. The light was a little harsh on her left and a reflector would have helped tremendously but I know that's not always practical. The squared shoulders is probably not ideal as been previously mentioned but I think the portrait crop helps there some.








Jan 18, 2013 at 12:31 PM
sbeme
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p.1 #12 · Keep me learning. Another portrait attempt


Thanks to all of you for the detailed replies and education!
Kent, you are right. These recent semi-candids represent shots I took with the lens I had on my camera, walking about with family and none were planned.
That doesnt excuse learning better placement of the subject, angling the body, head optimally, attention to background, learning how to understand and choose lighting, etc. They do represent "here is what I got" and what can I do with it and do better new time.
So thanks to all of you for your patience. I have been hesitant to "take on" portraiture in any planned way. And I will probably not go beyond shooting friends and family in a casual manner. Still I need to do this well and there is so much to learn!
Chuck, helpful to know there is a better distance to choose when shooting portraits with a normal lens. I am aware of short telephoto often considered optimal, but good to know how to optimize the lens I have on hand for these more spontaneous situations.
Finally, my 50 1.4 has been my least used lens. I have decided to practice using a normal lens for several reasons. I want to be familiar with its characteristics. I want to be less "lazy" in the way that zooms can tend to encourage. I love shooting fairly wide open. And I need this lens in low light. Less motivated by the classical approach of learning a normal lens first, and its far too late for that!
Scott



Jan 19, 2013 at 04:44 PM





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