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Archive 2013 · Another portrait attempt
  
 
atattn
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Another portrait attempt


Dragged my 10 year old out for more practice. I'd like to have the tree not behind him, but this was the lesser of the evils behind him since I wanted to use the sloped concrete rail for posing. I used one sb 600 remote just down the rail for fill.
I'm here to learn so criticism is accepted even if not enjoyed.

1.



Thanks,
Mike




Mar 27, 2013 at 06:41 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Another portrait attempt


Mike,

I think you've done a nice job of using the fill to not blast your subject (might have even used a little bit more @ facial features). You are obviously working in two different lighting conditions with the subject vs. the background, so I've tried to selective tweak on things a bit to quell/bridge some of the differences to help us focus a bit more on the subject than the background ... subjectively debatable, still not sure about WB tweaks though. My masking was kinda rough in a few spots, but you get the gist.

As to the tree ... not that bad really (dof helps), but only an inch more would have given a touch more separation on the (camera) left side of his head. I could have also used just a smidgeon more negative space on the left side.









Mar 27, 2013 at 07:20 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Another portrait attempt


Posting without the full EXIF data, especially the color space limits how we can critique. In this case it forces me to guess the color space you intended, which may seriously compromise my critique.

Using my best guess at how you intend the colors to be displayed, over-all it has a small red/magenta cast which for some reason is quite common for digital captures. The color of his lips seems a odd for some reason. Could be lighting or post processing, assuming no make-up was used.

Beyond color issues, the fill light is very flat. That is a good choice for a female subject, especially after the blush of youth begins to fade, but it's rarely ideal for typical male subjects, as it's perceived as feminizing.

In terms of posing, the relaxed informality is good, but beware of posing a subject with his chin pulled down that causes a gathering of flesh under his chin. Head/chin/neck angles are critical to a flattering pose.

The brightness and color contrast of the tree on the right is unfortunate because it tends to draw the eye away from the subject, as you've mentioned. If the background doesn't allow you to reframe to avoid the tree, you can re-crop in the camera to remove/reduce the distraction. Failing that, it may be best to find another setting.

In terms of post-processing, you can re-crop, change the colors, lighting contrast, and at least do some reshaping of the flesh under his chin. An example with post processing changes for your consideration, illustrated with PS5:



















Mar 27, 2013 at 08:46 PM
atattn
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Another portrait attempt


Thanks to both. It helps to have new eyes to look especially when I've been looking too long. His lips are a bit off. I had 2 issues with that. He plays sports and bites his lower lip when he concentrates. He has a raw chapped line under his lower lip which I cloned and desaturated a bit and then I was playing with OnOne Perfect Portrait and you're right, I overdid the resaturation and color of his lips causing an overly defined line of his mouth. In comparing the edits, just on facial skin tones he was cold so his cheeks were a bit red and he is a pale kid that stays outside constantly so he tans naturally in the sun, but there is always some defined pale skin at his hairline and his eyebrows. I was trying to stay true to that and I left it a little too red.
To eliminate the flat lighting in the sun with one flash, should I turn the power up on the flash or is it a directional thing?



Mar 28, 2013 at 02:51 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Another portrait attempt


atattn wrote:
To eliminate the flat lighting in the sun with one flash, should I turn the power up on the flash or is it a directional thing?


Looking at the shadows on the trees, the sun is at camera left. If you turn the flash totally off, your subject would be illuminated by the indirect sky light, not by the specular direct sun light. This lighting is akin to a giant soft box lighting your subject with essentially no specularity/almost no shadows at all ... i.e. fill (in the shadows) lighting.

You then have the option to set your flash as key, or fill. Since, your subject is facing the "fill light" of the indirect sky, it is lacking sufficient key lighting to give it the modeling that some degree of shadows provide. For this scenario, a bit more power from your flash would provide for a bit stronger contrast between your flash as key lighting and your ambient fill lighting. If your subject were facing into the sun (specular/key) then you would want to use your flash as "fill" if the key lighting is too contrasty coming from the direct/specular sun.

It looks like you probably approached this one using your flash as a fill light, when you could have used it as a key light. I'd have probable done the same without taking the time to think it through a bit more regarding the relationship between ambient/flash @ key/fill vs. fill/key.

Chuck might have a link to a tutorial that can illustrate the diff better than I have stated it, but hopefully you get the gist.



Mar 28, 2013 at 03:15 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Another portrait attempt


Using a camera angle that much lower than the eyes is usually not flattering. It also creates problems with the background, like you have here.

As Karen pointed out, there are some color problems going on. I also agree with her that on camera fill is not subject appropriate. In almost every instance, unmodified on camera fill provides illumination but not lighting. There are many easy and good alternatives. Look at the work of Lisa Holloway in the People section. She never uses on camera fill. She gets gorgeous lighting by choosing time of day, location and the occasional use of simple reflectors and very rarely off camera flash.

If you're up for a challenge, take another photo of this young man very late in the day using a piece of foam core as a reflector (no flash). Set the camera slightly above eye level, shoot at at least 85mm (135mm preferred), f 2.8 or f4.0. Crop a little tighter head and shoulders. Keep his head turned a little, like you have in this photo. Watch the background carefully. Make sure there's nothing that will distract from the subject.



Mar 28, 2013 at 05:01 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Another portrait attempt


The flatness of fill light is controlled by the position of the light and the directionality of the light - spread and degree of collimation. I broad scattering light is soft and flat a narrow tight light is sharp and hard. Direct sun is a narrow source and casts sharp shadows. Open sky light is broad and soft. A naked camera strobe is narrow and harsh if reasonably far from the subject. The same strobe can be broad and flat if placed very close to a macro subject. It's all about learning what to use and how to use what you have to create the light/shadows that work well with the subject.


Mar 28, 2013 at 08:06 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Another portrait attempt


AuntiPode wrote:
The flatness of fill light is controlled by the position of the light and the directionality of the light - spread and degree of collimation. I broad scattering light is soft and flat a narrow tight light is sharp and hard. Direct sun is a narrow source and casts sharp shadows. Open sky light is broad and soft. A naked camera strobe is narrow and harsh if reasonably far from the subject. The same strobe can be broad and flat if placed very close to a macro subject. It's all about learning what to use and how to use what
...Show more

Using your strobe's zoom head position can also alter the scattering/collimation pattern.



Mar 28, 2013 at 09:55 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Another portrait attempt


In terms of lighting technique a flash used outdoors isn't automatically "fill". By role and definition a light vector which creates highlights and shadow is a dominant "key" light not fill. Here you had "key" and "fill" vectors in the skylight before adding flash then introduced a second "key" source with the flash creating shadows in a different direction creating muddled "crossed-shadow" modeling on the face which isn't natural looking.

In natural light outdoors there is one source, the sun, but many directional vectors and intensites. Here the direct sun really isn't a factor because it's not hitting the subject, so consider the characteristics of what is: the skylight

A characteristic of skylight is it comes from all directions, some stronger than others. The stronger vectors, usually from above become the modeling "key" vectors which will create any highlight / shadow modeling you see on the face. The "fill" vectors come from many different direction. What makes them fill is the fact they aren't as strong as the key vector.

When posing a face in skylight if you recognize there's a dominant "key" vector the logical thing to do before considering adding flash is to determine the direction of that vector and pose the face to it just as you would with a key light indoors in a studio. During most of the day the skylight "key" vector will come from so high that the photographer standing on the ground with the subject will see the brow of the subject shade the eyes. What would you do in the studio if you saw the key light shaded in the eyes? Lower the key light. But you can't lower the sky so outdoors you need to raise the face into the light by having the subject look up. When they look up if you stay on ground level the camera winds up looking up their nose.

So there's a three step procedure in indirect light:

1) Find the "key" direction that is creating shadows
2) Pose the face up into it so it reaches the eyes and creates the desired highlight /shadow pattern.
3) Raise / move the camera relative to the well lit face to find the most flattering camera angle.

The ratio of key vector and fill vectors in indirect light is so low you don't need "fill" to allow the camera to record shadow detail when exposure it set for highlight detail. So there may be no need to add flash at all.

What you've done here is create a "crossed" lighting situation. The face wasn't posed very effectively to the downward "key" direction of the natural light and by adding flash you added a second stronger "key"source from a other than natural direction. The net result is lighting on the face which doesn't look natural. The dark shading under the eye on the cheek appear to be the result of your flash "key" light being so low the cheeks are casting upwards shadows, the opposite of how natural light from above models a face. That's why the lighting on his face looks unnaturally "muddled".

If the idea of posing the face to the "key" direction of the natural light makes sense to you what might also make sense when adding flash is to add it at the same angle as the "key" vector of the skylight is coming from. Why do that if the face is posed to the skylight and modeled naturally? It will increase the contrast of the lighting, which in open shade can look too flat.

When you put the flash above the face so it casts shadows in the same direction as the skylight what happens as you add flash is that it makes the highlights brighter where the flash hits but doesn't hit and change the shadows. If you started with correctly exposed highlights before adding flash then adjust exposure the highlights wind up looking the same as with the daylight only exposure but the shadows will be rendered darker. The more flash you add the more contrasty the modeling of the face gets because the key intensity increases but the fill intensity stays constant.

This is is the type of thing you need to try and compare the results with the strategy you used here where the flash and natural light "key" vector come from different angles and then decide which you find is more naturally flattering. Often in open shaded the best options is not to use flash at all. When you do use flash the most natural results are obtained by first posing the face for good modeling in the natural light, then adding the flash at the same "key" angle. That's like putting a smaller key light in front of a huge SB with the "fill" coming from all the other directions.

The PP and skin softening is overdone for a kid his age to the point of plasticity. You might want to post a scaled version of what it looked like out of camera to get some suggestions on better techniques to address the issues you mentioned.



Mar 29, 2013 at 02:46 AM
atattn
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Another portrait attempt


Thank you all. I keep a checklist and I'm adding the advice to it. Maybe I can get some time and practice more this weekend.
This was ooc. I've not figured out how to attach exif yet. I'll search for that.





Mar 29, 2013 at 08:25 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



AuntiPode
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Another portrait attempt


If you can't figure out how to include the EXIF data as part of the displayed image referenced by linking to Picasa, you can mention the color space used as part of the text when posting here. The Picasa site allows the browser to display many parts of the EXIF data at the Picasa site itself, but unfortunately, at least with the image you posted, it does not include the most important fact - the color space (sRGB or Adobe RGB 1998 or ProPhoto RGB).


Mar 29, 2013 at 10:15 PM
newhaven
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Another portrait attempt


My try-
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v732/glenngaryglenross/anotherportrait_web1.jpg



Mar 30, 2013 at 12:53 AM
atattn
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Another portrait attempt


It is Nikon Adobe RGB 4.0.0.3001


Mar 30, 2013 at 05:30 PM
atattn
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Another portrait attempt


I'm going to try some more today or tomorrow and see if I can figure out how to get some pop OOC. I usually feel ok with my natural light portraits, I'm trying to learn more about using flash and I appreciate the advice.


Mar 30, 2013 at 08:13 PM
hvu2012
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Another portrait attempt


Nice portrait.
I would tone down the background more to bring subject stand out. Right now, the bright background distract the viewer, IMO. Also, push contrast a little bit more.



Apr 03, 2013 at 07:17 PM
jnoll1951
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Another portrait attempt


Portrait looks very nice.Well exposed for my taste.


Apr 13, 2013 at 01:20 AM
Steve Wylie
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Another portrait attempt


Lots of good, if very detailed and technical, advice here. What I see is a badly processed or captured ambient first and foremost, with severe fringing and chromatic aberration. So I think you need to worry about that first. In an outdoor portrait like this, your ambient condition is the foundation of your exposure, so you need to control for that. At this point, your background is brighter than your son, so you need to drop your ambient exposure to a more manageable value, without exceeding your camera's flash sync speed (say 1/250), unless you can get high speed or FP Sync off-camera (probably not with your equipment). Adjust your ISO and/or aperture to give yourself a darker sky at something slower than your max sync speed. Then bring your flash in to serve as the key light, placed high as described by Chuck above. If this were my shoot, I'd go manual on both camera and flash. Get the ambient right, then dial in the flash to taste.


Apr 13, 2013 at 05:17 AM
warrenjrphotog
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Another portrait attempt


One more piece of quick advice. I really like cgardners advice by the way, his advice is spot on and he obviously knows his stuff.

I offer something when it comes to posing. I would suggest having him push his head out more forward so that his head is less recessed which is known to cause double chin.

Your model has a slight double chin because his head is too recessed.

You can do that or have him position his body so that it's not facing the camera, have him bring his head and eyes back slightly to the camera and you have a nice 2/3rds look with no double chin as moving the head to the side of the position of the body normally causes the head to be less recessed eliminating double chin with minimum effort.



Apr 14, 2013 at 04:46 AM
atattn
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Another portrait attempt


I was too low with the camera. It caused the double chin. I liked the pose, but I forgot my ladder so I couldn't elevate the camera enough. I really appreciate everyone's advice. This is an awesome place for learning. Hopefully it will stick for me eventually.


Apr 14, 2013 at 04:14 PM





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