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Thread: Some Honest Critique Please

  1. #1

    Some Honest Critique Please

    You are probably aware of how insecure I am about my people pictures. They just never seem to be quite right, especially formal shots like the one below. This is one of my daughters on her prom night. I would much appreciate some honest pointers

    Steve

    Disclaimer: Not my choice of eye make up

    Some Honest Critique Please

  2. #2
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Your the expert though, whats the world coming to. Nice hair so that must be right, maybe if it wasn't static and the aspect ratio was more like 5:4. Looks pink and does blue go with that hair. A reflector underneath to lighten the hair but I'm sure Colin will be along to tell you the proper way to do it.

    I can't do it by the way; I would have to have old fashioned lights and indoors.

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Well to be honest, I'm more at home with the creepy crawlies than formal portraits! But to me, this is bound to be a difficult exposure compromise between the tiara and the sparkly dress against shadows in her hair. And I think it has worked out well.

    The only slight negative thing that I could suggest is that, to me, she appears to be posing just a little too hard and ends up with a slight startled look. But all in all, I like it.

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    The line of her shoulder appears to be a little strange. Did you photoshop something out from the background? Other than that it's a very nice portrait.

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Looks good to me, except for the eyes (slightly too much blue ) :^) The only thing that I see is her skin colour: it seems a bit red, especially on the arm (given what they do to their faces, I won't use the colour there as a reference)

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Any better?

    Some Honest Critique Please

    To be honest, I'm still not happy with a couple of aspects of it, but it's the best I could do with a low-res copy (it also had a couple of lighting issues to complicate things).

    Steve, it's an excellent start I can help you improve if you want, but I don't know how much effort or expense you want to put into portraiture.

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    There is a lot of noise along the shoulder and arm almost like a halo. The skin tone looks very cool but as do most of the other colors within the portrait. I think that is what gives it an undramatic effect. The dof is perfect, in post processing is it possible to change some of the colors, especially the eye shadow and add a little warmth to the cheeks?

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    The line of her shoulder appears to be a little strange. Did you photoshop something out from the background? Other than that it's a very nice portrait.

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Steve, I like the way she is positioned, turned slightly away from directly facing the camera and looking towards you.

    For me the square format isn't really working either - she needs more top to bottom depth. Even a trim off the back side would help. Also a little more sharpness on the subject. You were possibly trying to give her a nice, even skin, but the eyes and the hair need more sharpness. I think you have tried to blur out the background which has given that slightly odd looking effect running over her shoulder and down her arm. The wee pendant needs to be sitting in the middle, too.

    The colour - well, it's her choice, not yours.

    I seem to have said a lot of negative things, sorry, but you are streets ahead of me when it comes to portraits. Please don't be discouraged...

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    Even a trim off the back side would help.
    If I ever said that to a model I'd never make it out of the studio alive!

  10. #10

    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Looks pink and does blue go with that hair. A reflector underneath to lighten the hair
    You are absolutely right she is pale skinned and I have over cooked the red. This can be remedied as Colin has shown later in the thread. Her hair is not nearly that red.

    she appears to be posing just a little too hard and ends up with a slight startled look
    This was an unexpected problem on this particular day. She was very tense due to all the build up during the day. She has modelled before now and it amazed me how natural she took to cat walking.

    The line of her shoulder appears to be a little strange. Did you photoshop something out from the background?
    I didn't but I should have cloned out the bump. The only PP in that area was a slight focus blur to the background with a GIMP filter.

    Looks good to me, except for the eyes (slightly too much blue ) :^)
    It did not look to bad in the flesh but it really gives panda eyes in front of the lens. They just will not be told (God I sound like my Mother!). The thing that drives me more nuts is that she insists in merging her lips with the rest of her make-up. This was one rare occasion when she submitted to wearing a highlighting lipstick.

    Any better?
    Much, much better. The tones are spot on. I like these make overs you do it makes it so much easier to see how an image can look with due diligence. Nice work.

    Steve, it's an excellent start I can help you improve if you want, but I don't know how much effort or expense you want to put into portraiture.
    Thanks Colin, that means a lot coming from you. The truth of the matter is that portraiture does not jingle my bells. However with a growing family, especially with milestone birthdays, the potential for engagements and weddings in the next few years I feel almost duty bound to be able to produce at least competent portraits. I do not mind stretching to another flash, reflectors, brollies and stands since I can use all that kit for my real passion. Things may be a little tighter than I am used to if I have to go in for this surgery so I have agreed to wait until all that is out of the way then go for the 70-200 and a 100mm macro. Hopefully then I will have the makings of some reasonable kit that will adapt for portraits when I need it.

    There is a lot of noise along the shoulder and arm almost like a halo.
    My careless PP I'm afraid. I did increase the focus blur slightly with a GIMP script.

    I seem to have said a lot of negative things, sorry, but you are streets ahead of me when it comes to portraits. Please don't be discouraged.
    Not at all Kit , it is all very constructive criticism which is what I asked for. I have long since give up taking comments on my images to heart because It did not take long to realise that you can make these comments work to your advantage in the learning process. You cannot and more importantly should not try to take everything on board but one of things that sits this forum above the rest is that the critique is rarely bland or vague (a trademark of many of the talking shops out there).

    If I ever said that to a model I'd never make it out of the studio alive!
    And never, ever pause when answering the "does my backside look big in this" question...unless you are Gok Wan

    Thank you for all your help and comments

    Steve

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Hi Steve,

    The first thing I would get is a grey card ... I assume that GIMP has a way to automatically adjust white balance based on a grey card sample?

    Next up, what flashes do you have, and can you fire them remotely?

  12. #12

    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    The first thing I would get is a grey card ... I assume that GIMP has a way to automatically adjust white balance based on a grey card sample?
    That makes sense. After trying portraits I can definitely see why I might need one. I am pretty sure GIMP has that function.

    The equipment bit is simple

    1 off 430EX
    1 off flash bracket
    1 off ETLL cord (too short at 10ft)
    1 brolly and stand
    1 off 36" circular reflector (composite type with white gold, silver and black surfaces)
    1 off daylight fixed spot with barn doors an defuser lens
    2 off mini spots with daylight bulbs (quite weak - usually used with light box but have been used for people pics)

    and that is my meagre collection.

  13. #13

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    That makes sense. After trying portraits I can definitely see why I might need one. I am pretty sure GIMP has that function.

    The equipment bit is simple

    1 off 430EX
    1 off flash bracket
    1 off ETLL cord (too short at 10ft)
    1 brolly and stand
    1 off 36" circular reflector (composite type with white gold, silver and black surfaces)
    1 off daylight fixed spot with barn doors an defuser lens
    2 off mini spots with daylight bulbs (quite weak - usually used with light box but have been used for people pics)

    and that is my meagre collection.
    Hi Steve,

    That's certainly something we can make a start with

    What I'd suggest is grabbing a grey card so we can sort those skintones out - get yourself a 100cm (or there abouts diffuser) - figure out some way to mount the flash on a light stand - same for the diffuser (different locations though) - and then a way to fire the flash remotely. As an alternative to the diffuser, a shoot-through umbrella.

    Basically the two things that would take you to the next level is gettinig a bit of direction to the light, and sorting out the colour balance.

    For an even quicker and dirtier trick, try hanging a big white sheet to the side of the model (just out of the frame) - point the flash towards it - shield the flash so that the model isn't illuminated by the direct flash - and take the shot.

    To be honest, a 580EX II flash would make the job easier, but I think we can do a lot with only a little outlay. Case in point - I did this shot with only a flash firing into a shoot-through umbrella (just out of frame to camera left) - it really wasn't hard.

    original.jpg
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    Last edited by McQ; 23rd July 2010 at 06:27 AM.

  14. #14

    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    What I'd suggest is grabbing a grey card so we can sort those skintones out - get yourself a 100cm (or there abouts diffuser) - figure out some way to mount the flash on a light stand - same for the diffuser (different locations though) - and then a way to fire the flash remotely. As an alternative to the diffuser, a shoot-through umbrella.

    Basically the two things that would take you to the next level is gettinig a bit of direction to the light, and sorting out the colour balance.

    For an even quicker and dirtier trick, try hanging a big white sheet to the side of the model (just out of the frame) - point the flash towards it - shield the flash so that the model isn't illuminated by the direct flash - and take the shot.
    Right, this is exactly the basic brief I need. Have you tried looking for tips on the internet? People mean well but they make it all seem that rocket science (which I do not doubt some of it is). This is the straight instruction I understand and I can already see how this will improve things no end and give me a firm base on which to slowly experiment. I will get a grey card and for starters an extra long ettl cord. My next step after that may well be a pocket wizard since I can really see how that will help me in other genres of photography too. Now I need to find time to put this into practice, my prime model is out hill walking in derbyshire this weekend. I do have some holidays coming up very soon though.

    Many thanks Colin I am absolutely certain that other members will find this very useful

    Steve

  15. #15

    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    I should know this by now but I am going to ask otherwise I will never know.

    Just one practical clarification. I assume I get a meter reading off the grey card placed near the subject and then use AE lock to retain the setting or am I missing something.

    Cheers

    Steve

  16. #16
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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    I thought the grey card was more for the white balance wasn't it?

    As in; get a picture with it in shot (one under each different lighting condition), then 'eye dropper' it in PP to set the WB accurately during RAW conversion (for each batch shot in similar conditions).

    I have something (a WhiBal), but rarely (read "almost never") use it, but recently wished I had, so I may yet change my ways.

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    I assume I get a meter reading off the grey card placed near the subject and then use AE lock to retain the setting or am I missing something.
    Hi Steve,

    As per Dave's reply

    It CAN be used for exposure, but I don't generally bother.

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Steve, I am impressed that you got her to smile! I had the hardest time getting some real smiles from my daughter on prom night. She's very pretty.

    Over here Square cropped portraits (SCPs) - please post them here Ashwin sent me a grey card to copy and Colin had some pictures and words of advice for using one, but you may already know all this stuff so disregard if so

    Myra

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Steve,

    With regards to the "extra long ETTL cord" ... just keep in mind that longer lenses are better for portraiture ... not sure how long cords get, but if the flash is, say, 1m from the subject, and you're, say, 3 or 4m away from the subject then having a cable that's probably at least 4 or 5m long would be ideal.

    In all honesty though, if you have VAL (Voice Activated Lightstand; aka assistant) to hold a reflector then you can probably get by without even having to use a flash. Hence the best "tools" in your lighting toolbox are a 100cm diffuser and a 100cm white/silver reflector.

    I've got a bright sunny day here at the moment (and I haven't done a PAD shot for yesterday -- me bad ) - so I'll pop outside now and see how good a portrait I can get using no more than a diffusor or reflector, and a VAL. (aka "putting my money where my mouth is!)

    Back soon!
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 24th July 2010 at 12:08 AM.

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    Re: Some Honest Critique Please

    Ta Da

    Some Honest Critique Please

    PS: There was NO retouching of her face.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 24th July 2010 at 01:03 AM.

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