Helpful Posts Helpful Posts:  0
Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: First attempt at a portrait.

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    75
    Real Name
    André

    First attempt at a portrait.

    Hey.

    This is my first attempt at a portrait. I'm not entirely sure about the composition. I'm thinking there should've been more space at the top of the picture. And the eyes kinda disappears into black nothing. I like it a lot though. Probably because my girlfriend is super cute! But I digress...

    Lighting is my TV and a little flourescent bulb.

    Any hints and tips on how to make my next one superior to this one?

    First attempt at a portrait.

    - André

  2. #2
    jiro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Manila, Philippines
    Posts
    3,804
    Real Name
    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Always set your cameras' focus point on the eyes. That would make any portrait nice when the eyes are sharper than the rest. In portrait mode, like the one you did, it's a common practice to locate the level of the eyes at the top 1/3 using the rule of thirds. I think you did good on this one. I just wish that her smile was more relaxed.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Nashville Tennessee USA
    Posts
    386
    Real Name
    Chriss Goyenechea

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Show more eyes! They are the windows to your soul.

    Tell your model to not squint and like Jiro said... focus point will the subjects eyes.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    11,275

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    I'm happier mostly with bugs or boats, etc, Andre, so don't take anything I say as an experienced opinion.

    But, for me, I agree about having more space; the alternative is to crop a lot tighter and only show the chin to eyes, approx, area.

    Full frontal faces are difficult and a bit more working space between your camera and subject would help. I would like to see more of the face in focus. Out of focus hair is another discussion, sometimes it works and sometimes it spoils the effect.

    But your problem, as I see it, is that if you use a narrower aperture to increase depth of field you are going to run into exposure problems unless you use a tripod and your model can hold a good pose. Increasing ISO is something to consider but I wouldn't want to go beyond ISO 400 here.

    So I would say try again, preferably with a better but still soft light and try to obtain a sharper focus with more depth.

    But definitely try this shot again; it has almost worked well.

    ps. Some details about your equipment and the camera settings used for this shot will help the real portrait photographers to give more specific help.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    75
    Real Name
    André

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Quote Originally Posted by jiro View Post
    I just wish that her smile was more relaxed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Crovean View Post
    Show more eyes! They are the windows to your soul.

    Tell your model to not squint and like Jiro said... focus point will the subjects eyes.
    This was a fun shoot with lots of laughter and squinty eyes, and as per usual I press the button either too early or late. I think I need some mental training to cure my itchy trigger finger.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    Some details about your equipment and the camera settings used for this shot will help the real portrait photographers to give more specific help.
    Picture was taken using a Nikon D40x with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens. ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/20s.

    I need to figure out how to keep my hands still so that I can use a slower shutter speed without adding lots of movement blur allowing me to set the ISO lower.

    Thanks for your replies guys, it really helps.
    Last edited by Slugbug; 14th March 2011 at 06:56 PM.

  6. #6
    speedneeder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Owensboro, KY
    Posts
    1,532
    Real Name
    Brian

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Andre,
    You do have an excellent subject!

    For most portraits, the three most important things are:
    1. good focus on the eyes.
    2. good focus on the eyes.
    3. good focus on the eyes.
    Of course, there are exceptions to every rule!

    If you haven't read through the tutorial stickied in the People and Pets forum, I recommend checking that out. It's a good starting point filled with lots of 'newbie' info on portraits.

    In this case, a larger depth of field would suit my tastes better, but if you like the blurry hair effect, then you are good to go with this shot!

    I think you are off to a good start, simply because YOU can identify a couple things YOU would like to improve. This is much different than simply taking a photo and thinking 'nah, I really don't like that'.
    As far as improving goes, I would start with your own observation - ie. think about how to get more light in the subject's eyes. This can be tricky because if the light gets too bright, the model tends to want to squint! Some of my first attempts (after readings Colin's portraiture tutorial) were outside with a reflector. A reflector can be a $100 whiz bang item from the local photography store, are a piece of cardboard with some aluminum foil stapled to it

    My observations about cheap DIY stuff and purchased stuff - the cheap stuff is usually less versatile and doesn't produce as good of results, BUT it is an excellent and cheap way to learn first hand! For example, the first time I shined my $8 Home Depot shop light in my wife's eyes and said 'smile', I could see exactly the problem with this setup!

    Ah well, I've been babbling too long

    I look forward to seeing your next portraiture attempt!

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    75
    Real Name
    André

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Focus on the eyes! Alright! I have now written a huge mental note.

    I like the blurry hair, but it might be a little bit overkill.

    I think I should try to get a hold of a reflector to brighten the eyes up. I can't afford proper equipment at the moment, but I'm sure there's something lying around the house I can use as a placeholder until then. It might not be as good as real equipment, but it's going to have an impact nonetheless.

    I read through pretty much all of the tutorials last night, but the photos I've uploaded here was taken prior to that. You'll just have to wait and see if I'll do any better next time.

    About what lenses to use for a portrait, is a 50mm f/1.8D good? I like it better for portraits than the kit lens which is a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G. It depends on what I'm trying to do I guess.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Hi Andre,

    Have you had a look at my "School of Portraiture" series?

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    75
    Real Name
    André

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Andre,

    Have you had a look at my "School of Portraiture" series?
    I read through pretty much all of the tutorials yesterday. But I'm not good at learning from just reading, so I figured I should join the community and get some feedback and pointers to learn better. Learning by doing suits me better, but it's even better combined with theory.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Hi André,

    What aperture / shutter speed / ISO did you use? Did you use a tripod?

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    75
    Real Name
    André

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    I'm at work at the moment, so I don't have the numbers available. I'll be here for another 5-6 hours, but I'll post them here as soon as I'm at home.

    Edit: I just remembered that I posted them earlier; ISO 1600, f/2.2, 1/20s.

    As for the tripod, I haven't invested in one yet, but it is someting I'm very eager to get my hands on.

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Hi André,
    I think the first thing you're going to need is a more effective light source if you're going to shoot indoors; you're pretty much on the limits there, and the DoF is painfully thin.

    How about shooting outside, perhaps with a reflector or a diffuser? Aim for at least F5.6 if you can.

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    75
    Real Name
    André

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    I agree I should get a more effective light source, using the television set and a little lamp isn't any good. It was a spur of the moment thing though, and I had a go at it. Trial and error!

    The spring is just around the corner here now, so going outside to shoot is something i could try. I do not own a reflector or a diffuser though. I can however craft myself a silly looking reflector.

    Setting the aperture to a higher number gives me a wider DoF, am I correct? Or have I mixed it up again. I'm still a little confused about aperture settings.
    Last edited by Slugbug; 15th March 2011 at 12:56 PM. Reason: typo

  14. #14
    speedneeder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Owensboro, KY
    Posts
    1,532
    Real Name
    Brian

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    You are correct. Setting Av to a higher value gives a deeper depth of field.

    I understand wanting to shoot with a lower Av in order to get the blurry background, aka bokeh. This can be a challenge in tight quarters! If you allow more distance between the subject and the background, you can achieve the same result with a higher Av.

    I think you can use just about any light or combination of lights for B&W, though if you mix types of lights you will end up with color balance troubles for color photos (tungsten ambient light with a bounce flash for example). There are ways to deal with this such as gels. Also, the different colors can be used to your creative advantage! Lately I have used the $8 shop lights for hair lights. While I do put a gel on my flash, it's not quite enough to match to match the color of the tungsten shop lights. This way I can leave a little bit of the 'golden glow' on the edges of my subjects (when I want to).

    I really do look forward to seeing your next portraits! It's fun for me to see what a total newb like me is doing!

  15. #15

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    75
    Real Name
    André

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    I think you can use just about any light or combination of lights for B&W, though if you mix types of lights you will end up with color balance troubles for color photos (tungsten ambient light with a bounce flash for example). There are ways to deal with this such as gels. Also, the different colors can be used to your creative advantage! Lately I have used the $8 shop lights for hair lights. While I do put a gel on my flash, it's not quite enough to match to match the color of the tungsten shop lights. This way I can leave a little bit of the 'golden glow' on the edges of my subjects (when I want to).

    I really do look forward to seeing your next portraits! It's fun for me to see what a total newb like me is doing!
    I'd really like to be able to use my flash, perhaps with a gel. I'm guessing I'd need different gels for different situations? I tend not to use my flash because it makes my pictures look like poo. Everything goes white! I've been thinking of lowering the output of the flash manually, but haven't gotten around to trying it just yet.

    I'm going to a birthday party tonight, I might be able to get a couple of shots done trying out what has been said in this thread. Keep your eyes peeled Brian, I'm sensing some zombie-mentality in my brain at the moment towards photography.

  16. #16
    speedneeder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Owensboro, KY
    Posts
    1,532
    Real Name
    Brian

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    Flash almost always looks bad to me when it is mounted on your camera and pointed straight at your subject. The only success I have had with this is 'fill' flash for quick snap shots against a bright background. I forget what type of camera you are using, but if your flash is blowing out your subject, you can set it manually very low or lower the Flash Exposure Value (FEV) appropriately.

    One step better than above is if you can bounce your flash - off a wall, a ceiling, or .... a reflector!? If I'm near a wall, say less than 5' or so, I like to bounce off the wall and the ceiling - aim the flash for the corner. If I am bouncing off of the ceiling, I usually bounce straight above my head, though if the subject is too far away for this to be effective, I will bounce off the ceiling right in front of me. When bouncing, I usually find that I have to turn up the FEV and/or the EV to get good results - usually adjust the EV so I get more light from the background too, but this doesn't always work out for good/fast shutter speeds which are usually preferred when photographing things that move, unless you like motion blur. Some fancier cameras can meter from pre-flashes. I don't know if mine can do that? I'll have to check.

    One step better still is off camera flash, but if you can bounce your flash, I would experiment with that some first. You may have to spend some money to try anything off camera.

    I have a bad habit of not getting the exposure quite right with my flashes - I bought some cheap ones so I do all camera and flash settings manually. I recently started taking a test picture and looking at the histogram on my camera. This has definitely improved my exposures, but it's still not as good as a light meter (which I don't have).

    The most important thing is for you and your subject to have fun If your subject doesn't have fun, you won't get to shoot them again!

  17. #17

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    75
    Real Name
    André

    Re: First attempt at a portrait.

    At the moment I've only got the built-in flash, which definately sucks, and I can't bounce it off things without aiming the whole camera somewhere else. I need to get a hold of a different kind of flash.

    I dabbled a little bit with the flash outside in the dark yesterday, and I can get it to do a couple of cool things, but I don't think it's something I'll be focusing on just yet. I need to get a better grasp on aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings first.

    A reflector would be nice without a flash too, for bouncing sunlight or light from other sources into the shade when shooting outside. I need to set off some time to get crafting.

    Work calls! I'll have to come back and edit a little bit later.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •