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Baby photos seem bland
  
 
Bill Ley
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p.1 #1 · Baby photos seem bland


I've never really done much photography and It's pretty much just been a hobby, but since I've recently retired, I'd like to see if I could get a little better at it. I just did some photos for my niece's 10 month old daughter, and although she loved them, I feel they are too bland, or something. Maybe it shadows or lack of color? They just don't look right to me. Hopefully someone he can enlighten me on what I did wrong so I can make some adjustment for the next adventure

They were all shot outside, in the shade with natural light. I did have some tripods and flash units, but didn't use them, which was probably a mistake. All shot with Canon 5D Mii and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8l (I was expecting crisper from this lens, and hopefully it's just me and not the lens) There are many more than the ones below, but just wanted to show what I was referring to


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3.





Is this the correct forum for this ot should I have posted in People Photography?

Edited on Oct 13, 2013 at 05:45 PM · View previous versions



Oct 13, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #2 · Baby photos seem bland


Ignore comment, images are now visible.

Edited on Oct 14, 2013 at 11:58 AM · View previous versions



Oct 13, 2013 at 04:37 PM
sbeme
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p.1 #3 · Baby photos seem bland


Not my forte, I am learning too
They might benefit from a bit mirth depth, not depth of field...by darkening the background for a bit more contrast
Maybe warm the color temp a bit?
Scott



Oct 13, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Bill Ley
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p.1 #4 · Baby photos seem bland


Thanks Scott, I think you're right about the backgrounds. I did shoot in RAW and pretty much all I did was just crop and save a .jpg so maybe I can salvage some of them. I did recently buy LR, but so far still trying to figure it out. I told my niece I'd like another attempt, but this time rather than shooting at noon, to do it closer to sunset, and I will at least attempt reflectors or flash. In the meantime I might need to read up a little on using LR









Oct 13, 2013 at 04:59 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #5 · Baby photos seem bland


Shooting in open shade makes for some soft lighting, but it can also make for some color cast as you are no longer being illuminated by the full natural sky, only a portion of it. How much and what direction you're subject is being illuminated from will influence your WB (as well as surrounding reflections).

Another salient point about open shade/soft light ... is that it is inherently lower contrast light. If shooting low contrast light, using the same PP recipe as full daylight (i.e. higher contrast light) will leave things looking flat/soft ... unless you offset the lighting contrast reduction somewhat with a corresponding increase in PP contrast.

Both, the color and contrast typically warrant some degree of tweak/adjustment when shooting ambient soft shade to keep them from looking uber-flat. I guessed that her shirt, the blanket and the fabric were white/near white and used those three collectively as my basis for color correction. If they are a different color (i.e. more pink) then that would warrant a different adjustment from what I did.

Here are some tweaks to WB, along with a slight curves adjustment to brighten up the eyes a bit. A dab of USM also and a kiss of sat/vib boost. As always, S&P to taste, particularly @ color/warmth and sharpness for such a "soft" subject @ how you want to render/present ... could use more work to dial in the skin tones, etc. but hopefully you get the gist.

Bill Ley wrote:
All shot with Canon 5D Mii and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8l (I was expecting crisper from this lens, and hopefully it's just me and not the lens)


A sharp lens in soft light will yield a softer image than a sharp lens in high contrast light. Conversely, a soft lens in high contrast light can still look pretty sharp. In this case, I'd suspect it is neither you, nor the lens ... but the use of soft light.







Edited on Oct 14, 2013 at 02:58 PM · View previous versions



Oct 13, 2013 at 06:06 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #6 · Baby photos seem bland


The first two are fine, but could benefit from some post processing tweaks to sharpen, dodge and burn and reduce the shadow on the face in the second. I quite like the expression in the third, but it looks to me like you missed the focus, placing the plane of sharpest focus slightly too close to the camera.












Oct 14, 2013 at 05:29 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #7 · Baby photos seem bland


+1 @ Karen re: plane of focus on 3rd one.

A little blurring of the sharper focal plane and some sharpening of the desired plane can sometimes be a little helpful.






Edited on Oct 14, 2013 at 02:47 PM · View previous versions



Oct 14, 2013 at 06:23 AM
hijazist
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p.1 #8 · Baby photos seem bland


I am not going to comment on the techincal aspects, the guys did great there. Just wanted to say that the little girl melted my & my gf's hearts, so so cute


Oct 14, 2013 at 09:23 AM
 

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Bill Ley
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p.1 #9 · Baby photos seem bland


Thank you for the comments and tips. I spent a few hours yesterday watching LR videos to try to get a grasp of the program. I can see its not something to just jump into and expect great results. Would the photos have benefited from using a flash? Some of the shadows bothered me after I got home and was able to view them. I was also a little disappointed how some were out of focus, as mentioned above. On each photo,the focal point was always the eyes, either her left or right. She has the prettiest blue eyes I've ever seen on a baby, and unfortunately I didn't bring them out in the photos. I'm going to pay around in LR and hopefully salvage a few. thanks again for the help


Oct 14, 2013 at 03:12 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #10 · Baby photos seem bland


It's worthwhile to learn to use flash, but it's also worthwhile to learn how to set-up available light scenes for good lighting. It ought to be easier to learn the latter than the former, but it's worthwhile to learn both, although I'd suggest working on using available light may be the better place to start.


Oct 14, 2013 at 07:59 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #11 · Baby photos seem bland


Bill Ley wrote:
Thank you for the comments and tips. I spent a few hours yesterday watching LR videos to try to get a grasp of the program. I can see its not something to just jump into and expect great results. Would the photos have benefited from using a flash?

There's lots you can do in LR, especially with adjustment brushes. I use several on one image. I also use NIK plugins, that I really like.

Given your place on the journey, I think flash would only complicate your life. Please don't use flash on camera, it almost always looks bad. Before going to flash, try using reflectors held by a helper, especially when photographing mobile children.



Oct 15, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Bill Ley
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p.1 #12 · Baby photos seem bland


Sorry for reviving this older thread, but I've watched a ton of videos on using Lightroom 5 so I attempted some editing with my very limited skills. It seems to be much easier to do any PP on landscapes than on people, but what could I have done differently here? It seems a little to red maybe?

(1/1250th sec at f/2.8 ISO 200 120mm using my Canon EF70-200 f2/5L IS II USM)







Nov 03, 2013 at 06:06 PM
beavens
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p.1 #13 · Baby photos seem bland


Bill, cute subject!

The most recent shots seems a little over the top in terms of saturation/vibrance.

Also the blurred foreground (blanket?) is somewhat distracting.

Take it with a grain of salt, I'm trying to improve myself!

Cheers,

Jeff



Nov 04, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Bill Ley
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p.1 #14 · Baby photos seem bland


Thanks Jeff, I guess no matter what I do in LR, if the original photo wasn't properly lit, there's not much I can do to improve it. I see what you mean about over the top in sat/vib. The more I look at it, the worse it looks As stated in some of the previous replies, I guess I should be concentrating mainly on my lighting (taking photos mid day probably doesn't help either)


Nov 05, 2013 at 04:27 PM
beavens
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p.1 #15 · Baby photos seem bland


Hey, just an excuse to take more pics of your niece's daughter!

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with down the road.



Nov 05, 2013 at 06:14 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #16 · Baby photos seem bland


Bill Ley wrote:
Thanks Jeff, I guess no matter what I do in LR, if the original photo wasn't properly lit, there's not much I can do to improve it.


Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole ... reconsider trying to fit the square peg into a square hole, instead (or vice verse @ round peg/round hole).

I think the trouble folks run into with their processing is that they are trying to force their processing toward the wrong light. If the subject was illuminated by indirect, soft blue light then trying to process as though it was illuminated by direct warm or direct neutral is kinda the round peg/square hole approach.

Recognizing / accepting that soft blue light is different from warm direct you can work from that premise. The tenets of "North light" have been heralded for centuries. But North Light (in the northern hemisphere) is soft and blue. If soft and blue was sought after by master painters, then it likely isn't exactly what I'd consider to be "improper" lighting ... but certainly has different characteristics. From that, it isn't that the lighting was improper, but rather I sense a mismatch in pp approach for the different light.

PP is not a "one size fits all", but rather an extension of studying the light (quantity, quality, color, direction/orientation, mixed/homogenous/gradient/consistent, etc.) and then deciding what your goals are for your image. Sometimes we allow ourselves to get "boxed in" to what it "should be" without fully embracing what it "can be" ... predicated upon what it is.

For your images, your subject is backlit by direct warm light, and front light by indirect cool light. Recognizing which portions of your image are illuminated by which color/quality of light is key to your processing decisions. As always, S&P to taste (skin tones not my forte), but when shooting ambient, it can help to understand your orientation/time of day will yield a different color of light on you subject.

That being said, if you like shooting in soft blue light, just know that trying to process it into studio portrait lighting or OCF flash look is a bit of a square peg/round hole approach, but that doesn't make the lighting "improper".








Nov 05, 2013 at 06:40 PM





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