PDA

View Full Version : Help with taking pics of people



cgl88
07-30-2007, 10:46 AM
I have been shooting photos for years, and even back in the film days. However with digital cameras, pictures are free...which means taking more of bad photos.

I've been having trouble taking good people pictures in group situations. Excluding posed shots, I seem to catch people with their eyes half closed, in awkward postures, and generally with bad angles.

Do you have tips on how to improve? This is on a a sony 18-70mm kit lens. The trouble starts with fact the lens is wide-angle!

As for the camera, do you use continuous mode?

fionndruinne
07-30-2007, 05:14 PM
Oh yes, I always use continuous mode for candid-style people photos, and ISO 400 as well. I find 18mm is kind of fun for humorous portraits, but you'll probably use about 50mm most often. Get lots of shots, it will fix the eyes-closed and similar problems.

wutske
07-31-2007, 03:07 AM
you could ask people to keep their eyes open when you take a picture, but that probably gets annoying after while :) . If you take an 'unexpected' photo of a group of people, you can expect some people to look a bit weird (eyes closed, mouth open, funny face, ...).

toriaj
08-01-2007, 09:13 PM
Do you have a long lens? My 300mm is great for "sniping" candids when people don't know I'm looking their way :D Whenever possible, I like to zoom in on one person's face as far as I can, and wait for them to look pretty :) A narrow angle helps to cut out the unwieldy arms and legs, along with the distracting background and other, distracting people. But it makes for more of a "portrait"-type shot. If you can pull off a wide-angle shot, it is often much more striking.

stevage
08-01-2007, 09:44 PM
I was looking at the photos I took of a party recently, where I was using a 50mm F1.4 manual lens, and concluded that such closeup shots lose a lot of the atmosphere of the party. When you just have someone's face, they could be anywhere - you can't see the background, or the people around them, or what they're wearing, or what they're doing. And it's sort of pointless having dozens of photos of the same person's face - you haven't really recorded anything of the event itself, simply their face.

The trickiest shot of the evening was when two short girls asked me to take a photo of them standing next to an exceptionally tall guy. A 50mm (75mm in 35mm terms) is not the best tool for that :) I ended up standing about 5 metres away, and trying to avoid people getting in the way.

So on the whole I'm leaning more towards getting a 30mm or 40mm when I fork out for a fast prime lens. Preferably with autofocus :)

Steve

reppans
08-02-2007, 08:32 PM
For candid shots, I like shooting with available light - flash just attracts attention and makes people aware of your presence and creates a tendency for them to pose. What I do is:

- Use the lowest ISO that yields a 1/30th or faster shutter... below that, you'll tend to get motion blur
- Use aperture priority set to the lowest number (widest aperture) to get the fastest speed from the camera's meter.
- Set custom white balance, if inside, to adjust to the specific lighting.
- Use the longer end of zoom, but understanding the more zoom you have the more shutter speed you need to prevent hand shake blur
- I have image stabilization and that helps getting handheld slow shutter speeds
- Use the optical viewfinder, if you have one.... a camera is steadier if held tightly to the body/face, like a scope rifle, then with arms outstretched, like a pistol.
- and yes, shoot continuous expect to delete most of the pix.

cgl88
08-17-2007, 08:32 AM
Thanks very much for the useful advice. I have printed these tips and will try this again at another social function. I'll try to be more interactive with my peoples (needless to say, insects, some animals, stationary objects are easy to photograph because they lack expression!)

Vich
08-17-2007, 09:06 AM
So; are you TRYING to get ignore-the-camera shots, or just avoiding the hassle of poses?

I don't particularly care for most unposed party shots (sports or activity is OK). Look through any magazine, photo album, or just about any "photo keeper" of parties. The people are either looking at the camera, or you're taking some interesting activity shots (card game, hardy laugh, warm hug, etc) where the activity itself is interesting.

A group of people talking at a party gets the backs of heads that are almost invariably dominating the shot because they are closest.

Also; too wide of a lens makes them look fat and large. It's actually distance-to-camera, but WA tends to promote close subjects. 50mm on a crop camera isn't that practical, as mentioned, unless you have a lot of room. Your zoom is perfect, just avoid the 17mm temptation.

As mentioned, a very wide lens (like 10mm) can be really fun, particularly from directly above - like putting the camera on a monopod and using a wired remote. Also; getting on the floor looking up, but of course their bodies look huge. A fisheye look.

Use high ISO and, at night, bounced flash. The higher ISO will tone down the flash. Bouncing does require a mounted flash, but it's a better look. As much as natural light is nice, it's just not feasible at night.

For dancing, use AT LEAST 1/125 shutter. For general party, AT LEAST 1/90, unless they're just standing (boring) still. Unless they're playing cards or hugging, I can't imagine an interesting party shot that'll come out at 1/30. That's really slow.

Use an IS camera or lens.

Nail your focus. Zero in on eye slits or some other high contrast part.

Best to use a fast prime (35mm is ideal). The wider max aperture will mean better focus capability (more light). Your zoom is likely f3.5 at it's widest. Not awful, but in dim light impossible to focus. Also; for the dim light you'll need a wider apertute. But; f1.4 is REALLY hard to focus since there's no room for error (narrow DOF).

Sony hua? So you can't use ISO 1600 without a lot of grain. In general; if you use very high ISO, then don't underexpose the shot. It looks terrible when pushed up in PP.

Shoot RAW so that color balance is more correctable a problem. Bring a neutral gray or white paper and take a few shots of that in the lighting you are using. In mixed lighting, well, good luck with color balancing.

Bynx
08-17-2007, 10:59 AM
Here is a nice little item for taking pictures of people. It is a fake telephoto lens which screws on like a filter. The barrel rotates and has a hole in the side through which a mirror gets the picture. So you are shooting at right angles to the subject. You shoot somewhere else while your subject watches you with interest rather than shyness. This is great for kids or anyone who doesnt like getting their picture taken. When you process your picture be sure to flip the image.

Vich
08-17-2007, 12:35 PM
Here is a nice little item for taking pictures of people. It is a fake telephoto lens which screws on like a filter. The barrel rotates and has a hole in the side through which a mirror gets the picture. So you are shooting at right angles to the subject. You shoot somewhere else while your subject watches you with interest rather than shyness. This is great for kids or anyone who doesnt like getting their picture taken. When you process your picture be sure to flip the image.
Nice!

I want one!

toriaj
08-21-2007, 12:15 AM
How 'bout a link? :D