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| p.1 #2 · Challenges with the 85mm and a couple of portraits |
Whenever DOF in a photograph is less than typically seen by eye it doesn't seem "normal". Selective DOF is typically used in a photograph to make what is in focus seem more important than what is OOF.
The advantage of a wide aperture lens on a DSLR is that AF performance is better for lenses 2.8 or faster. But that doesn't mean you need to shoot wide open. The question to ask when selecting aperture is whether you want the face to look "normal" (i.e. all of it seen in focus) or narrow the focus more than normal to isolate one part of the face. Pick the aperture needed to keep hte entire face / head in focus, the shutter speed that can be held without blur, and then adjust ISO as needed for correct exposure.
Regardless of focal length of a lens it is shooting distance which controls near/far size perspective: how big the nose looks relative to the parts of the face further away. If you shoot her from the distance you used here then back up in 2ft increments shooting the same poses you'll find the appearance of the face will change. I suspect shots from further away will be more flattering. Find the most flattering distance first, then select the focal length needed for the desired in camera crop. If shooting with a fixed FL lens like the 85mm it would be better to shoot a wider crop in camera from furhter away, then crop tighter as needed in post processing. You can change the crop in PP, you can't alter the near/far size perspective.
In the first shot the lighting is modeling the 3D shape of the face nicely. With window light you can't move the "key" light, you must move the subject. The nose shadow is hanging out sideways because she's more or less eye level with the light. If you were to seat her lower than the window, or mask off the bottom part of it, the light would hit the face from a more flattering downward angle because the nose shadow wouldn't hang down.
The facial angle to the camera in the first is nicely balanced right<>left but you might want to move the camera a bit more to the right to reveal the curve of cheekbone more. A higher camera position would be more flattering than the lower one in part because it shows the more attractive top of the nose vs. having the viewer looking up the nostrils. As with the sideways angle move the camera around higher / lower and compare then by comparison your eye will find what looks best.
Full face poses are ideal for faces which are perfectly symmetrical. But if a face isn't perfectly symmetrical naturally the nose straight at camera pose will make any asymmetrical features more obvious than in an oblique view.
In the second shot you used a symmetrical view of the face and asymmetrical "spilt" lighting pattern which has the net effect of making the face seem lopsided. A more flattering pattern for a full face pose for a girl her age would be a centered source above the face. That way the symmetrical lighting pattern will complement the symmetry of the pose. That's a pattern more easily done with a skylight or high window behind the camera or an artificial source placed over the camera.