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  1. #21
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    Jan 2006
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    Great idea DPR. I might be doing some shoots this weekend, I'll give it a try
    Nikon D50, Nikkor 18-55mm, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro, Tokina 12-24
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  2. #22
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    Sep 2008
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    The original is too wide of course and it not the best format for a portrait, but the scene is actually quite well composed, I like it, She fits into the context of the scene very well. To me this is the best shot but I am not a portrait photographer.

    I am, as I mentioned, a complete novice, but I have experience in getting people to relax and ignore the technical aspects of situations. In my case is was getting musicians and particularly singers to give their best performances in the recording studio.
    At times the model would best be relaxed, for other images, focused and unaware of her surroundings. You have an advantage with your sister, most of the time she is used to being unaware of your presence due to your being around all the time. But with other models distance would probably help, a relaxed photographer who is not nervous or stressed by the session also inspires confidence, and casual light hearted conversation about anything unrelated to the current session would have to help. To relax a tense singer, which usually causes them to drift sharp in pitch dimmer or darker warm tones in their immediate environment would lower their tendency to drift sharp. Something ill-advised with you mother around: a glass of light white wine at just above room temperature did wonders in relaxing the facial muscles and also vocal cords. Some really nervous or self conscious singers would be turned around facing the back of the studio room so the could not have eye contact with us in the control room. The same with a quiet camera, from a further distance and no flash, I would imagine. Air temperature is also a factor in how someone reacts to a session. Movement automatically relaxes someone and cause them to assume a natural balance. All my best candid shots have been when people were moving. I was in the high end fashion industry along with the music industry and every photo session I've been a observer in, the photographer made an effort to encourage movement in his models and the shots we ended up using were usually those where the model was moving into another pose. I've tried with my friends, stay moving myself and encourage the direction of movement towards a desired background or environment. Say, try taking a walk on a grassy field and encourage twirls and leaps, and limb and head extensions the way small children would naturally. I have gotten really good shots when a couple of people are interacting in a playful way, and that gives the camera a chance to be invisible.
    This all assumes the subjects are young and active, or children.
    I am going back home (adopted home as of 5 years) and will try out my theories with my friends, all fairly young women who seem to be energiezed by someone pulling out a camera. The problem there is that they all seem to love the camera and immediately strike poses that they think are most flattering based on all the models they are familiar with. My girlfriend is that way, she lights up when a camera comes out. She has a sparkling vivacious personality that steps up 2 levels when even a point and shoot is in view. She changes poses so quickly my point and shoot Sony misses most due to the time delay required. That is one of many reasons I bought the Nikon D90 recently. That is a different culture, where most people there are not self conscious or shy around a camera.
    My random thoughts for what they are worth. But be aware that I am not partial to fixed pose head shot portraits.

  3. #23
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    Thanks for sharing those thoughts Stanj, you make a lot of sense.
    D800, D300, D90, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200VR f2.8, 300 F4, 105 micro, 16-85VR, 50mm 1.8, Tammy 90 macro, 70-300VR, SB900, 2xSB600, MB-D10, 055XPROB 322RC2. New computers to run photoshop faster. C&C always appreciated. PhotoGallery
    Pressing the shutter is the start of the process - Joe McNally ... Buying the body is the start of the process - Dread Pirate

  4. #24
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    Thanks stanj, I used some of your suggestions in the shoot the following pictures came from. In particular, I tried to make the models comfortable. I laid on the ground with the little boy, took pictures of squirrels whenever he saw them (yeah, squirrel pics at 50mm ) and talked to him about his airgun. I made small talk with the couple when I was taking their shots, and I never said, "one, two, three!" I just kept taking shots and moving around. 50mm was far enough away that I didn't make the adults uncomfortable. I was closer in the closeups of the children, but they didn't seem to mind. And we kept moving all the time.

    I don't know any models like your girlfriend ... you're not moving to Wyoming by any chance??
    Nikon D50, Nikkor 18-55mm, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro, Tokina 12-24
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  5. #25
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    New photoshoot

    I had my first "professional" photoshoot. I tried to use what I learned here. I didn't use any flash, just because I was uncertain and again I didn't think I needed it, although in some of the shots I think it would have helped. I used my 50mm 1.8 exclusively, at 1/80 or 1/100. I used apertures such as f/4 and f/5, again because of light but I think it was a good choice this time. Maybe small apertures are good for studio work and anytime when the background can be carefully controlled, but in general I like the blurred background look for environmental portraits. All are at ISO 200.

    #1. A little hot on her shoulder, but still my favorite:
    Name:  Family 6072.jpg
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    #2. He's kind of looking the wrong way, oh well.
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    #3. I decided to experiment with B&W because I know it's so attractive to clients I tend to like B&Ws with some yellow and red in them. Somehow they look more like the old B&Ws I remember.
    Name:  Payton 5912 BW.jpg
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    What do you think? Please give me all your comments! I'm going for the clear, bright PP like Kimberly Bee does. I'd love advice on how to get closer to that effect.

    edit: oh no, #1 and 2 are soft! I don't understand it, #3 isn't soft. Seriously, am I the ONLY person on DCRP who notices that some uploaded pictures are soft and some are not???
    Last edited by toriaj; 10-25-2008 at 10:15 PM.
    Nikon D50, Nikkor 18-55mm, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro, Tokina 12-24
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  6. #26
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    I quite like 2 myself. Blokes are used to looking goofy in photos and I reckon her expression more than makes up for any defect in his.
    D800, D300, D90, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200VR f2.8, 300 F4, 105 micro, 16-85VR, 50mm 1.8, Tammy 90 macro, 70-300VR, SB900, 2xSB600, MB-D10, 055XPROB 322RC2. New computers to run photoshop faster. C&C always appreciated. PhotoGallery
    Pressing the shutter is the start of the process - Joe McNally ... Buying the body is the start of the process - Dread Pirate

  7. #27
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    Feb 2005
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    Derbyshire, UK
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    Toriaj you have certainly got some excellent advice from the experts here that I & I'm sure others too will find very useful. Your shots are way better than any portraits I get so I can only offer some personal thoughts. From your first set the original of number 3 does look like the sort of shot my mum would like too so I can see the merit in the comments you got. I think I'd just crop it a bit on the right though to remove that black piece of wood in the window for a bit less distraction. For the second shoot you are right the first one is soft ? (hadn't noticed DCRP doing that before) it is also a bit pale for my taste. But I think it is the angles that put me off that shot, the walls are not vertical and the mother is leaning backwards which just looks a bit awkward. Her black boots also seem to detract a bit. The second one I like, it's a good pose from her but as you said it's unfortunate that he was just looking slightly off. Number 3 is my favourite though that is a stunning shot fantastic eyes and cheaky grin just perfect.
    Last edited by Phill D; 10-26-2008 at 12:03 AM.
    Around every picture there's a corner & round every corner there's a picture
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  8. #28
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    Thanks for your comments, Phil and DPR. I liked this pose better (not to mention the view of the location) but I'm not sure if the splayed legs work or not. But I missed focus or had camera shake or something and since the boy isn't smiling, I don't think the family would take it. So I didn't continue editing it, as you can tell.
    Name:  Family 6060 resized.jpg
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    I can see what you mean about the pose in the first shot. And I straightened the shot above (since it already has low IQ, I wasn't worried about the potential damage lol.)
    Last edited by toriaj; 10-26-2008 at 02:42 AM.
    Nikon D50, Nikkor 18-55mm, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro, Tokina 12-24
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  9. #29
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    Aug 2007
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    I would say those shots you linked to have more contrast.

    I like the background you chose (brick building), but they're set up so that the lines of the door and the railing are right behind or near their heads. I think that's a little distracting.
    Lukas

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  10. #30
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    Sep 2008
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    75
    Hi Toriaj
    I visited your photos on your Flickr account. I am thoroughly intimidated by your obvious knack for landscapes. The composition, color, subject and obvious patience(water drop) is excellent in many of the uploaded shots. The Medicine Bow shot from a distance is postcard or calendar material. The long exposure shots showed good technical skill. Way ta go!

    When shooting other people, as opposed to landscapes, i sense that you are afraid of imposing on your subjects and do not spend as much time on finding the perfect spot to shoot from as you do with landscapes. Do you have a friend at a dress shop who could loan you a full body mannequin for a few days? You could experiment all you want with lighting, fills and exposures then and not risk irritating a family member or friend. When you become confident in setting up shots and being able to concentrate on the mood and comp. of the live models instead of technical issues with the camera and settings.

    Photo 1. Unfortunately this one is marred by the less than engaged look on the little boy's face. The husband is squinting so either he is facing too bright a light source behind you or he is tired. He does appear to be relaxed however.
    The woman is not going to like this photo unless cropped very tight, Her thigh closest to the camera is lifted and that is the most unflattering way to show a woman's upper leg unless she is super skinny. That sitting position foreshortens her leg appearance and your eye is drawn to that distortion of expected proportions, She needs a long leg appearance, straight leg, not fitted pants with a modest heel( maybe 2 in). Her expression is very attractive, but due to her awkward lean away she gives the impression of weariness that is totally at odds with her pleasant soft facial features.
    The background needs to be be cropped greatly or blurred, it is too Sharp and focused...use the DOF to soften it so your eye is not pulled to the orderly symmetry of the massive wall. The woman should not wear a tight sleeved top, it emphasizes that she has large arms and shoulders. Her elbow, being crooked, slims her waists a bit, a blousier top could increase that positive effect. Women are VERY sensitive to their body image in photos even if they might ignore it in daily life.
    Your position is too high by only a few inches, being slightly lower than the model's eye line is a more natural look. The rest of the shots are from a higher pov, too high, except the little boy on the park bench. That is perfect in camera position.

    2 You got them to relax more with is expected because there are two less squirming bodies to deal with. Her expression is very good, his is a little disconnected but probably fits his personality fine for a portrait seen by family primarily. Your point of view is quite a bit too high, you are standing and they are sitting. That gives the impression of a snap shot instead of a portrait. The background is much better softened but there is conflict with the subject colors and the background, check your color wheel. That distracts a viewer a bit when they should be drawn to the sparkling smile of the man and the loving look on the woman's face. The eyes are the portrait, all else is filler so you might want to concentrate on their position and light direction/intensity so their eyes relax so they open more. He is squinting very naturally however due to the big smile so it looks good but his eye detail is lost. The human eye collects a lot of information from seeing people's eyes and those with "catch-lights" seem to draw full attention the viewer, whether in person or a photo.

    3. I love it, eyes are good, expression is good, the background it not overly busy, the catch-lights tell the viewer the boy is fully engaged with the viewer; looking at them.

    4. The DOF is pretty broad so the in-focus detail of the railing and wall is rather distracting. Unless the models are somehow related to the foreground object, it is a distraction, not a prop, if a foreground object is in full focus. The collar on the woman's top is not flattering to her shoulders, it tends to broaden them in first impression.
    Is there enough detail to crop tightly and still have a usable portrait worthy of printing?
    If you shoot with intention of cropping closely later, make sure the heads of the main subjects are closer together. It is not a problem with this scale photo but if cropped, they will look as if they are quite far apart. Was this the last shot of the day, the little boy looks as if he is tired and has had enough of being still. If that comes up, tell him to go play, a little running around and his energy level will be up again.

    The problem with higher than eye level pov is that the ground becomes their background, which is not usually what the eye expects face to face. But you have to be careful with background clutter if you have the horizon as the background as would be the case with a eye level or lower pov.

    Remember how good the background was with your sister's photo with the wire fence in the background? Imagine that type of framing for the 1 or 2 of this series. Fill the frame with you portrait subject. No detail outside of the people is really needed at all. Make suggestions about what to wear, particularly if you know the camera will add pounds to people. Solid colors that are either shaded as the skin or directly opposite the color wheel.


    When talking to the models, try asking a question that is unrelated to the general talk you've been engaged in, and be prepared to trigger the shutter right away. Try it with your friends without a camera, the shift in expression can be very spontaneous and natural. The further from the topic you had been talking about the better. If it is a subject you suspect or know will bring pleasant associations be prepared for a spontaneous unself-conscious smile, not thought about or posed at all. If it is more serious an emotional event or relationship, the sudden change from smile or passive face to a reflective and inward emotional state, even if for only 1 second will result. I discovered that when working with singers who were not in the emotional state for a particular song. Or get close to a family grouping and ask the youngest person to explain about some strange or funny thing that happened to all of them on vacation or a holiday. Parents will immediately focus on the child and will engage in the explanation. This is a good way for a group that has some funny experience that they all shared. It might even sound strange to a outside party but each will start laughing before the funny parts are even mentioned, falling over themselves trying to get a word in, they bond in that experience and you as the viewer are forgotten about and probably would not understand anyway. Just be ready to capture the moment.

    Overall, I think you are on the right track, particularly your landscapes which are wonderful.
    Good luck!

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