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Thread: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

  1. #1

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    My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    After going through all the 'school of portraiture course' (ok, not everything...yet), I've decided to take the wife out for educational purposes.

    I'm posting both the original and the processed versions. No croping done yet (does it need croping at all?). I'd be pleased to get some c&c on the shot itself and also on the processing done.

    Thankyou

    My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please
    Rog_postprod por RLanna, no Flickr

    My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please
    Rog_preprod por RLanna, no Flickr

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Normally, I suggest that you keep your subject a distance from the background but, in this case the rock wall makes quite a nice background for a portrait.

    To crop or not to crop, that is the question (Shakespere?). Rather than to answer that question directly, I will say that I most often shoot head and shoulders portraits in the vertical (or portrait) orientation, with the camera over on its side. I do this unless there are other parameters which I must consider such as including the surrounding area for an environmental portrait or if I know that I wil be needing a horizontal or landscape orientation for some publication. Shooting in the portrait configuration will allow a larger image without extended cropping...

    BTW: you have a lovely wife and it should be loads of fun practicing portraiture with a subject so pretty...

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    You have brought out the textures and colours nicely with the edit, Rodrigo.

    Normally, I would say crop to 4 x 5 ratio for head portraits but this I suspect might be an exception.

    Considering the good texture and focus of the stones on the right I wonder about trying something around 5 x 4 ratio but leaving her face to the left of centre. Which means losing some of the softer focused stones on the left. She is looking slightly to the right which would help.

    Just a thought, I'm not totally sure.

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    I like the rock background too. Your wife is lovely and has the same light skin I do. I always seem overexposed in pictures because of it. I think she might be too --perhaps if the rocks were darker, it would give a better contrast? I don't know, I don't have any answers for it, just an observation. I'd love to know the answer, because I can't seem to get a good picture of myself ever.

  5. #5
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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Hi Rodrigo,

    Beautiful young lady you have there for educational purposes! When I take my wife out to shoot about the only thing that is learned is that she doesn’t want to go again! But she does anyway! Ain’t Love Grand?

    Seems like good advice you have gotten here and the one’s who have offered it are great shooters.

    Rodrigo, I won’t always post someone’s work that I have re-edited, but I feel like if I were to try to offer any advice I need to take the shot into the editing bay and see if my thoughts hold water or if I am just blowing smoke. And there seems to be some issues on the Forum at the moment regarding the posting of other’s work. So I won’t post, but please note that I did “borrow” your shot for a time to see if what I wanted to say had any merit. It probably doesn’t one way or the other anyway, but please further note that your shot will be deleted from my computer as well after after I post a response.

    I’m kind of a fan of a 4:5 crop ratio. Where I live folks seem to like them as they translate into our 8”x10” photos. Not too big, but yet not too small either and frames are widely and easily available. So I believe if it were me, I might try Geoff’s thought of a 4:5. Possibly taking a bit off the head space and putting her right (camera left) eye on the left third.

    I also like the background you have chosen. If you get a chance to revisit this location, you might like to try what Richard has mentioned and if it’s possible bring her out away from the background and see if you could blur it a bit. You might not like it as well, but I think this background might look very nice that way. Might be worth trying just for giggles next educational jaunt!

    I wrapped some vignette around Lovely and Charming Wife and that made the rocks a little darker and, I thought, popped her out a little more which kind of coincides with Gretchen's thoughts.

    It doesn’t appear to me that she is over-exposed, but she certainly has a light complexion. One way to help that, should the need be felt, is to set your burn tool on around 5-7%, with a rather large brush, and make a pass or two using broad strokes. When I do this, I stay away from the eyes (well, eyeballs anyway), but will usually include the lips. Just depends on what you think the shot needs.

    Rodrigo, I feel it only fair to warn you that I have the dubious distinction of being to only photographer on the Forum that failed the School of Portraiture! And that was no fault of Colin’s either! God knows he tried!

    If this is your first, I can’t wait to see what is around the bend, Rodrigo!

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Quote Originally Posted by Loose Canon View Post
    And there seems to be some issues on the Forum at the moment regarding the posting of other’s work.
    Terry: Please be assured - If it's something happening between consenting adults, then fine. The issue I raised was concern that someone was downloading another person's work without them knowing about it (they not being a member of this forum), and then re-posting edited versions of that work on here. That's a 'no-no'.

    But I have often made an edit and re-posted it back here (always in the same thread as the original) and advised the poster that if they don't like me illustrating my idea via the edit, then I will happily remove it.

    So long as we work on another person's image for the sole purpose of illustrating and point and have the agreement of the copyright owner to do that, then fine.

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Terry: Please be assured - If it's something happening between consenting adults, then fine. The issue I raised was concern that someone was downloading another person's work without them knowing about it (they not being a member of this forum), and then re-posting edited versions of that work on here. That's a 'no-no'.

    But I have often made an edit and re-posted it back here (always in the same thread as the original) and advised the poster that if they don't like me illustrating my idea via the edit, then I will happily remove it.

    So long as we work on another person's image for the sole purpose of illustrating and point and have the agreement of the copyright owner to do that, then fine.
    Hi Donald,

    I will certainly rest assured.

    I understand the difference. I know you have seen me post an edit and I assume if that’s the case you have also known me to mention that I would always be happy to take them down if I was out of line by doing so. And I certainly welcome anyone who might like to edit any shots of mine.

    I neither asked for, nor received permission to post my edited version of Rodrigo’s portrait. So I guess I just wanted Rodrigo to feel assured as well. After all, Rodrigo has not been posting here that much yet and I certainly would like Rodrigo to feel “at home” and comfortable as an esteemed member.

    I was just trying to do the right thing by Rodrigo if I could and be honest about it is all.

    Thank you for the assurance, Donald. I know I appreciate that as well as hopefully others will.

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Ok,
    It's quite nice to get so many replies!
    Let me start by thanking you all (wife is pleased as well and spreading the word around that she IS lovely... oh, well... I've been telling her so for the past six years...).

    All try to give some feedback for all of you, since every single comment was, indeed, very helpful.

    1) As Richard and Terry brought up, I did wanted to take her a bit forward and blur the background a bit, but the little she moved would put some of her forehead straight into direct sunlight. It didn't look good, so I decided to let the rocks there. I also tried to move to her left side (this is one of the shots where I actually changed my position) and that's what I got, a different depth of field in each side (did I put it in correct terms?)

    2) Geoff and Terry. Yes of course, portrait orientation!! It didn't actually occurred to me until you brought it up! Really, it didn't! That's probably a F minus for me at 'school of portraiture 101'. Maybe I was just distracted with a whole of other bunch of concerns... this rock wall is a bit small, but I could just lower the cam and shoot head & shoulders. I'll try to crop it 4:5.

    3) Gretchen and Terry. I'll try to darken the rocks a bit. They are pretty restricted to the yellows, should I try to fixed on HSL setting or maybe brush them all and take out some exposure? Vignetting seems an interesting idea.

    For everyone: feel free to edit the original image and post your suggestions here, that's why I've posted the original version here. I'd be pleased to see what I can do better.

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    OK then, Rodrigo, a very quick edit from your original image; although the size is a bit small.

    My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Because going 4 x 5 would leave little clear space I have opted for 5 x 4 as I previously suggested.

    Then added a blank adjustment layer set to Soft Light blend mode at 50% to boost the colour a little. Plus another adjustment layer with a Luminosity blend mode which I used to boost the highlights just a little.

  10. #10

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Geoff, that is nice. I like it.

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Quote Originally Posted by RLanna View Post
    Ok,
    It's quite nice to get so many replies!
    Let me start by thanking you all (wife is pleased as well and spreading the word around that she IS lovely... oh, well... I've been telling her so for the past six years...).
    Let the word go out far and wide, Rodrigo!

    Quote Originally Posted by RLanna View Post
    1) As Richard and Terry brought up, I did wanted to take her a bit forward and blur the background a bit, but the little she moved would put some of her forehead straight into direct sunlight. It didn't look good, so I decided to let the rocks there. I also tried to move to her left side (this is one of the shots where I actually changed my position) and that's what I got, a different depth of field in each side (did I put it in correct terms?)
    Good call. I just elaborated a bit on Richard's initial suggestion. Its always easier for us give “ideal” suggestions never knowing the real-life shooting conditions. The calls have to made on the spot under the actual conditions. And from what you are saying it was the right choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by RLanna View Post
    2) Geoff and Terry. Yes of course, portrait orientation!! It didn't actually occurred to me until you brought it up! Really, it didn't! That's probably a F minus for me at 'school of portraiture 101'. Maybe I was just distracted with a whole of other bunch of concerns... this rock wall is a bit small, but I could just lower the cam and shoot head & shoulders. I'll try to crop it 4:5.
    I pretty much emulated Geoff’s crop, Rodrigo, with just a little difference. Its not right. What is right is what you consider right to be. Mine is just one option.

    Depth of Field is probably correct for what you describe. Aperture would be adjusted to get more equivalent DoF and either shutter or ISO or both would be adjusted to compensate to get the same exposure.

    A head and shoulders proper would have been nice. Another good call. Maybe next time you’re out and in this situation think about an ultra tight facial while you are already busy with everything else (man, don’t I know how the whole bunch of other concerns go)!

    Quote Originally Posted by RLanna View Post
    3) Gretchen and Terry. I'll try to darken the rocks a bit. They are pretty restricted to the yellows, should I try to fixed on HSL setting or maybe brush them all and take out some exposure? Vignetting seems an interesting idea.
    A nice vignette will give the subject a more targeted look and I use the technique on a number of subjects Rodrigo. Again, just a preference, but always good to consider if you think it might be right for your particular shot. I sure try not to overdo it though. Again, just elaborating on what Gretchen mentioned. It is occurring to me that I am not making any useful contribution here at all!

    Quote Originally Posted by RLanna View Post
    For everyone: feel free to edit the original image and post your suggestions here, that's why I've posted the original version here. I'd be pleased to see what I can do better.
    Be careful what you permit, Rodrigo! Here are my suggestions as done in an edit of your fine shot of Your Lovely and Charming. Including a light skin burning.

    I will be only too happy to take this down, no worries. You just say the word and consider it done.

    My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please
    Last edited by Loose Canon; 15th August 2012 at 02:11 AM.

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    I just noticed that her eyes are blue! Can you intensify that color somehow? The last version osted by Terry has a nice balance, but takes away the "reality" of her face. As much as I love appearing as tho I am still 19, it isn't realistic and I feel like I'm trying to present something that is fake. Maybe adjust the lighting as to not soften her "natural beauty" quite so much. There is a fine line with us females. we don't want to be fake, but we also don't want to scare people and we tend to be more scared by what we see than anyone else!!! I find that it is really only the eyes that matter, so I try to focus on them.

    Does any of this make sense? LOL

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    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Quote Originally Posted by ggt View Post
    I just noticed that her eyes are blue! Can you intensify that color somehow?
    I may be wrong, Gretchen (I usually am), but I see her eyes as a hazel color.

    But, right or wrong, if you want to intensify the color one way to do it in Photoshop (I don’t know what software you have) is to open a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.

    Adjust the saturation to suit. You can brighten/darken using the Lightness slider. This will affect the entire photograph, but just look at the eyes until you get what you want with them. Then just invert the layer mask of that Adjustment Layer making it black, choose a small soft-edged brush, make sure your Foreground color is set to white, and paint over the iris. Avoid the black pupil.

    After that you can go back to that Adjustment Layer to tweak and it will affect only what you have painted.

    If you want to change color of the eyes, follow the same procedure only check the Colorize box in the Hue/Saturation Layer. Set the Hue slider to the color you want. Again this will affect the entire photo. Just go through the same procedure of masking and painting as above.

    Here is a quick example of a colorization with blue set at around 231 on the Hue slider:

    My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Quote Originally Posted by ggt View Post
    The last version osted by Terry has a nice balance, but takes away the "reality" of her face. As much as I love appearing as tho I am still 19, it isn't realistic and I feel like I'm trying to present something that is fake. Maybe adjust the lighting as to not soften her "natural beauty" quite so much. There is a fine line with us females. we don't want to be fake, but we also don't want to scare people and we tend to be more scared by what we see than anyone else!!! I find that it is really only the eyes that matter, so I try to focus on them.
    I did nothing to the skin other than make a pass with the burn tool at around 5% as my example stated. No further skin retouching other than that.

    Quote Originally Posted by ggt View Post
    Does any of this make sense? LOL
    Yes and no!

    One lighting suggestion might be to use harder light.

    I am amazed at what I have been asked to edit in or out in a portrait! By both women and men. And what is more is that as far as I am concerned, I honor all editing requests if I can do so successfully.
    Last edited by Loose Canon; 15th August 2012 at 01:20 PM.

  14. #14

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Quote Originally Posted by Loose Canon View Post
    I may be wrong, Gretchen (I usually am), but I see her eyes as a hazel color.

    But, right or wrong, if you want to intensify the color one way to do it in Photoshop (I don’t know what software you have) is to open a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.

    Eyes are actually a "grayish" shade of green. I'm currently using Lightroom4. On my first edit I've tried to highlight it just a bit with the brush tool set to about 70% in order to bring both exposure saturation up a bit.

    For skin lightening I've used the brush, once again, seting clarity to -40.

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    As far as the opinion of a non - pro\expert goes, I think the pre prod shot is good but the post work is fantastic! I can only speak to what I like because I'm not a "pro" but the rocks seem to serve as a nice natural background and I don't see where cropping them out would improve on a great shot like this one. Keep in mind I'm not an expert but I like what I like.
    Great work! Keep shooting.

  16. #16
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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Rodrigo, thanks for starting this thread: a great shot and lots of helpful comments!

  17. #17

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    Re: My first 'straightforward' portrait. C&c please

    Rodrigo:

    As a layperson with portraits I can only tell what I like to see when I look at them. Which is faces and eyes. In later years, clothing always seems out-of-date and no one cares about the setting. Unless one is trying for a glamour-type photo shoot or wants to see how a person looks next to a great sunset or whatever, I'd rather see a tight crop with the eyes wide open!

    I've also noticed in older photographs of my grandparents as children, you can rarely make-out their faces in the pics their friends took of them and the professional portraits of the age are all so dull --no smiles, neutral face. Eyesight weakens too and I've found there are very few of the pictures I took of my son that my Mom can now appreciate because his face is such a small part of the overall picture.

    AS a result, I'd probably crop this one even more. I like the brightening of her eye color (even tho it is the wrong color --sorry!) She is too pretty to be competing with the rocks for space --and when you look at this after 20 more years of marriage, what would you want to see --rocks?

    just my .02 as a mom and a daughter, not as a photo professional or expert.

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