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Thread: First Time Portraits

  1. #1

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    First Time Portraits

    for some reason none of my text came thru. I was asked by a friend to do her daughters Senior photos. It was the first time doing an official portrait session. Being as they live in the city finding the right place that would allow her horse was a big challenge.

    Some fun in Light room and i had a very happy customer!

    Thanks for any comments
    Becky
    katie-shoot-1095.jpg


    katie-shoot-1100.jpg

    katie-shoot-1092.jpg

    katie-shoot-1117.jpg

    katie-shoot-1270.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Donald; 6th January 2011 at 07:36 PM. Reason: Images posted inline

  2. #2
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Welcome to CiC Becky and your client must have been very happy.

    The light, colour tones, location, backgrounds, DOF control, posses, processing,etc are all great.

    What more can I say. Keep it up.

  3. #3

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Thank you Peter I usually stick to dogs and dog show photography so this was new to me for sure. Still just learning all the things outside the "auto" functions on my 40D but it's coming togeather slowly but surely.

    It helped that Katie is such a photogenic young lady!!

    Becky

  4. #4
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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Great result !
    Among them I prefer the first and the last one.
    COngrats !

  5. #5

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Thank you..and the one with her horse is my all time favorite...but then again Animals is my thing

  6. #6

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Hi Becky,

    When I was learning to fly aeroplanes, my instructor said "I'm going to be harder on you than most because you've got a natural talent" (presumably with the intent of making me even better, although perhaps he was just a b^stard!).

    In the same vein ...

    I think you've done an aweful lot very very well with these - but - (there's always a "but", but it's only a little "but" not a big "BUT" here), I think there's a few little things to consider here that would take them up another notch ...

    Image 1:

    It's over-saturated which one can almost get away with in terms of what it does for a colourful / vibrant background, but the skintones are over-cooked. Probably just a slight global desaturation (possibly coupled with an increase in vibrancy) would do the trick.

    Image 2:

    It's slightly flat - if you raise the black clipping point slightly it'll look better.

    Image 3:

    Overall it's slightly under-exposed, no doubt partly because of that bright diagonal lighlight at the top (which my eye is also drawn to). Probably a brightness adjustment along with a subsequent black clipping point adjustment would improve it.

    Image 4:

    It's got a blue colour cast; I'd probably fix that - then zap those couple of highlights around the top edges. I think the levels aren't quite optimal either.

    Image 5:

    This point is a bit more subjective, but I'm not sure a pose for a lady with legs like that - and hand in the middle really works. I find my eye being drawn to the hand, not the face. Not a biggie, but just the way I see it.

    All images:

    I've said this a lot to people in the past, but ...

    All good images have lines that draw the eye in from the outside, into the picture - usually leading to something that's brighter (typically a face). In all of these though the brightest thing is always at the outside of the frame, which holds my attention instead of letting my eye flow into the shot ... and that of course is your copyright message. Some people feel strongly about having it, but my suggestion is ...

    1. If you really must have one, put a matte around the image and put the copyright in the matte somewhere.

    2. If people want to steal your image they will anyway; and removing the watermark is a trivial business these days (if they even bother)

    3. Often all a watermark does is ruin the image for 100% of people in the mistaken belief that it'll stop 0.0001% of people stealing your work. Personally, I put all of my commercial landscapes up without a watermark, and to my knowledge, it's never taken any $$$ out of my pocket.

    Hope this helps

    PS: Happy to rework any of your images to show you what I mean if you'd like.

  7. #7
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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Hi Becky,

    I think if this is your first time, the pictures are wonderful! And Colin's comments summarizes the issues in the best way.

    And I would take him up to his offer

  8. #8

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Colin,
    I would very much like to see what you are talking about esp since i haven't a clue what you mean by raising back clipping, I get what you are saying about the watermark and i know it doesn't stop anyone i've often told someone if you don't want it lifted..don't put it on the net ...that's just how my Lightroom was set up from the last export.

    This shoot was before even my first photography class..so it was literally done turning dials and seeing what i got

    I don't get offended..i'm all about constructive critisam..how else can i learn

    Becky

  9. #9

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Hi Becky,

    I'll work through these one at a time for you. I may not get through them all tonight, but I'll see how I go.

    First up ...


    First Time Portraits

    As you've posted these at a quite low resolution, some of the processing (like sharpening) may be a little "sub-optimal".

    In the first, I've reduced the saturation about 30%, but increased the vibrance about 30%. Vibrance is supposed to leave skintones alone - which it does, but only to a point. Often it'll have a minimal effect on the skin, with the exception of the lips (it'll give a touch of "lip stick", which is usually a good thing). You'll see here that the skin is now considerably less saturated, and the vegetation as well. You could hand saturate the vegetation for a "lusher" look, but then the lady won't "pop" as much, so it's very much a compromise.

    I've reversed your standard vignette; a vignette is usually a good thing in this type of shot, but my personal preference is got something that's applied more "subliminally", and over a greater area (which I've done).

    I've given it a slight crop (too much space above the head is a common mistake), and cloned out a few distracting highlights.

    Usually with this kind of shot I'll dial in 1 to 1.5 stops of negative EC (ie "under-expose the background slightly"), and let the flash expose the foreground normally; it tends to raise the saturation of the shrubbery without making them too bright, but still lets the subject "pop".

    Hope you like

    Next Up ...

    First Time Portraits

    With this image I've done the same as the above one with the vignette, but mostly I've just tweaked the levels very subtly.

    Quick lesson on levels and clipping points ...

    Most images have something that's pure black and something that's pure white -- if they're not captured that way at the time then we "make it so" in post processing. If the image doesn't have these two characteristics then it may be referred to as looking somewhat "flat", and it'll appear to have a slight greyness to it. It's something you may be able to see (or may not just yet) ... you'll definately "get an eye for it" after a while. Now - just because an image has "something black" and "something white" doesn't mean that it won't look flat; it still can because the black and white areas can be too small for the eye to register them properly, so what the black clipping point adjustment (or "blacks" slider) does is takes values that are more and more grey and force them to black, and scale all the other down accordingly giving the image more contrast.

    Probably the best way to see what it does is take a slightly over-exposed image and then move the blacks slider progressively to the right and watch what happens to the shadow and midtone areas of the image.

    Next Up ...

    First Time Portraits

    Just more levels stuff ... brightening up the subject, and removing the blown area at the top.

    Next please ...



    First Time Portraits

    More minor tweaks ...

    - Brightened eyes

    - Removed distractions

    - De-emphasized dimple

    I won't worry about the last image ... not a lot that I can add that I haven't covered with the above anyway.

    Probably what I should say though is "If you've shot these before your first photography class" then I'd have to ask if you're the student or the teacher! Honestly, very little wrong with these in terms of the capturing; if these were shot RAW then I could clean them up - print them on canvas - spray them - and present them to a client as a professional job no problems what so ever.

    Honestly, the technical side we can teach anyone - but posing and composition is something that's 100 times easier if you have a "creative disposition" towards that kind of thing; I don't, but from what we've seen here, you do ... and I think it'll take you a long way.

    Well done
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 7th January 2011 at 07:56 AM.

  10. #10

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    WOW thank you Colin!! now i'm going to go play some and try to figure out how to do all you did::I am self taught in both Photoshop and Lightroom and have learned by just messing around.

    Thank you for the compliment. I think those were in RAW and Jpg but i didn't know what RAW was so deleted them all LOL

    ahhh to have the money to go take the classes i need to take for processing

    I appreciate the time you took to work these. I'll try to do better for the next ones.

    Now I have a question. When you put the frames and shadows behind the photos..is that just for web presentation or do those get printed like that for the client.

    I like that eye brightening thing. Time to go play with that!!

    Thank you again!! it was very enlightening and gives me something to strive for.

    Becky
    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Becky,

    I'll work through these one at a time for you. I may not get through them all tonight, but I'll see how I go.

    First up ...


    First Time Portraits

    As you've posted these at a quite low resolution, some of the processing (like sharpening) may be a little "sub-optimal".

    In the first, I've reduced the saturation about 30%, but increased the vibrance about 30%. Vibrance is supposed to leave skintones alone - which it does, but only to a point. Often it'll have a minimal effect on the skin, with the exception of the lips (it'll give a touch of "lip stick", which is usually a good thing). You'll see here that the skin is now considerably less saturated, and the vegetation as well. You could hand saturate the vegetation for a "lusher" look, but then the lady won't "pop" as much, so it's very much a compromise.

    I've reversed your standard vignette; a vignette is usually a good thing in this type of shot, but my personal preference is got something that's applied more "subliminally", and over a greater area (which I've done).

    I've given it a slight crop (too much space above the head is a common mistake), and cloned out a few distracting highlights.

    Usually with this kind of shot I'll dial in 1 to 1.5 stops of negative EC (ie "under-expose the background slightly"), and let the flash expose the foreground normally; it tends to raise the saturation of the shrubbery without making them too bright, but still lets the subject "pop".

    Hope you like

    Next Up ...

    First Time Portraits

    With this image I've done the same as the above one with the vignette, but mostly I've just tweaked the levels very subtly.

    Quick lesson on levels and clipping points ...

    Most images have something that's pure black and something that's pure white -- if they're not captured that way at the time then we "make it so" in post processing. If the image doesn't have these two characteristics then it may be referred to as looking somewhat "flat", and it'll appear to have a slight greyness to it. It's something you may be able to see (or may not just yet) ... you'll definately "get an eye for it" after a while. Now - just because an image has "something black" and "something white" doesn't mean that it won't look flat; it still can because the black and white areas can be too small for the eye to register them properly, so what the black clipping point adjustment (or "blacks" slider) does is takes values that are more and more grey and force them to black, and scale all the other down accordingly giving the image more contrast.

    Probably the best way to see what it does is take a slightly over-exposed image and then move the blacks slider progressively to the right and watch what happens to the shadow and midtone areas of the image.

    Next Up ...

    First Time Portraits

    Just more levels stuff ... brightening up the subject, and removing the blown area at the top.

    Next please ...



    First Time Portraits

    More minor tweaks ...

    - Brightened eyes

    - Removed distractions

    - De-emphasized dimple

    I won't worry about the last image ... not a lot that I can add that I haven't covered with the above anyway.

    Probably what I should say though is "If you've shot these before your first photography class" then I'd have to ask if you're the student or the teacher! Honestly, very little wrong with these in terms of the capturing; if these were shot RAW then I could clean them up - print them on canvas - spray them - and present them to a client as a professional job no problems what so ever.

    Honestly, the technical side we can teach anyone - but posing and composition is something that's 100 times easier if you have a "creative disposition" towards that kind of thing; I don't, but from what we've seen here, you do ... and I think it'll take you a long way.

    Well done

  11. #11
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Becky

    ahhh to have the money to go take the classes i need to take for processing
    I notice that Colin is off-line at the moment (they sleep a lot in New Zealand!). But until he awakes from his beauty sleep ... I know that he has often referred to the value of subscribing to the Scott Kelby programme of online Photoshop tutorials, which you can find out about here. I don't know what the cost of these are, as I don't use Photoshop

    You may want to have a look and can then continue the discussion with Colin when he's back online.

  12. #12

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Don if you don't use PS what do you use? Ahh to be in New Zealand!! Heck or Scotland for that matter. I just shipped one of my show dogs to a buyer in Australia..closest i'll get or a while i'm sure

    Thank you for the link..i'll go check them out.

    Becky

  13. #13
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by BeckyNoe View Post
    Don if you don't use PS what do you use?
    I process Raw files with DxO Optics Pro 6 and then finish off in The GIMP (an open source package).

  14. #14

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Yawn,

    Morning all

    Becky,

    Best source of training for ANYTHING photographic is www.kelbytraining.com (equipment, processing, you name it). Cost is USD $24.99 per month or USD $199 per annum.

    We can help with any techniques you need here though - post-processing isn't complicated, it's just a whole bunch of techniques strung together. Case in point; brightening dark eyes ...

    1. Use the lasso tool to put a broad selection around the eyes & eyebrow (leave a generous margin)

    2. Shift + F6 to bring up feathering (on a full resolution image go for something like 50)

    3. Ctrl + J to copy the selection to a new layer

    4. Change the blending mode of that layer to "screen"

    5. Reduce the opacity to give the desired effect

    Easy

    Do yourself a favour - always shoot RAW, and NEVER throw them away and (preferably) convert them to Adobe's DNG format so that you don't get pesky sidecar files or risk losing all edits because you don't know how to backup the internal database.

    Make you a deal ... you get yourself a RAW file of similar quality to the ones you've shot above - send it to me - and I'll take you through the steps I go through when I'm doing professional retouching jobs. Deal?

  15. #15

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    That's a deal i can't pass up!! Course I'll have to figure out where to shoot now that we are in the middle of winter and it's all brown and gross around here LOL

    We have a dog show in a couple of weeks. I'll plan on roping my daughter as a model LOL she'll love that. In the meantime i'll play ith Raw and converting to DNG...that's a new one to me.

    I have CS4 right now and a trial of CS5....otherwise it's back to my old CS i go When i get a new job the full versions will be making their way here because there are alot of features in CS5 i've read about that i want to get my hands on.

    Thanks for the offer Colin and I can't wait....

    Becky

  16. #16

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by BeckyNoe View Post
    That's a deal i can't pass up!! Course I'll have to figure out where to shoot now that we are in the middle of winter and it's all brown and gross around here LOL

    We have a dog show in a couple of weeks. I'll plan on roping my daughter as a model LOL she'll love that. In the meantime i'll play ith Raw and converting to DNG...that's a new one to me.

    I have CS4 right now and a trial of CS5....otherwise it's back to my old CS i go When i get a new job the full versions will be making their way here because there are alot of features in CS5 i've read about that i want to get my hands on.

    Thanks for the offer Colin and I can't wait....

    Becky
    No worries Becky,

    CS5 is great, but there's really nothing that CS4 doesn't have that you'll need if you get stuff pretty right in-camera (which is always a good goal). Not sure if you've read these or not, but I started a series on shooting portraiture a while ago - you might pick up a few hints and tipe here.

  17. #17
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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by BeckyNoe View Post

    I think those were in RAW and Jpg but i didn't know what RAW was so deleted them all LOL

    Becky
    Becky, if you haven't emptied your Recycle Bin (assuming you are using Windows...) they will possibly still be available.

  18. #18

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    Re: First Time Portraits

    Hi becky,

    Nice serie. 1,3, 4, I do not have any comments except congratulations. Concerning 2 and 5 I think that it is very slightly to narrow. the back od the horse is too close of the border on #5 and same thing for the #2 with legs of your model

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