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Thread: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

  1. #1
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    It's cold and rainy outside today, and I just got another flash in the mail, AND my daughter got a new dress....
    So I talked her into doing some photos with me
    I like this shot, but I think it's just lacking something. I tried to get a little more light on the right side of her head, but she ran out of patience before I could get it righ, lol.
    Any comments appreciated, thanks.

    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

  2. #2

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Hi Brian,

    You're fallen for the classic "can't see the forrest for the trees" I think ... so busy getting the details right (and you did a great job of those) that you missed some bigger parts of the picture ...

    - With portraiture, it's all about the face - so as a rule, the smaller the face in relation to the rest of the shot, generally, the less impact the image has.

    - Things like 1/2 of her left arm (to camera right) draw the eye away from the face and lead it out of the frame - so as a rule, get them wearing long-sleeved clothing

    - Same with the flower - it competes with the face. Imagine the difference if she had been holding the flower.

    Here's a quick edit - not perfect, but hopefully you can relate what I've said to it ...

    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

  3. #3
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    I do like that crop better Colin, thanks. I was trying to get out of my rut of tight crops on the face
    I forgot to do what worked best for THIS photo. Your edit looks great to me

    I tried to replicate your edit:
    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(
    Last edited by speedneeder; 26th March 2011 at 11:37 PM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Good effort, especially with the second crop Brian,

    Well done,

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    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Thanks Dave
    The more I look at the second version, the more I like it. I can still see a couple things I would like to have done better, but this is definitely my best portrait attempt to date. Thanks to Colin and the CiC people for their helpful comments and posts.

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Hey Brian,
    Iím also not a Pro and struggle with the same problem. I have read some tricks and buy from Nik software: Color Efex Pro.
    Itís only an example of me what I thought you can do to get a more Pro look. (All in my opinion) The most important are mentioned above already. What I added is:
    - To get a more natural looks of the hair I use the Orton effect on it.
    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Next used the Color Efex Pro filters.
    - Dynamic skin softener.
    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    - Sharpening extra her eyes.
    - Removed some shadow spots in her face
    - Darken the background more.
    - Gaussian Blur extra her dress. (removed the sharp edge)
    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Most important to me is that the basic has to be right. After the crop it was right in my eyes.
    Cheers, Jan

  7. #7
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Thanks for your input Jen. I am only a beginner GIMP user right now. I'm learning as I go. I do like the extra blur to the dress - though.... it is her NEW dress! lol

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    All you need is practice, practice, practice.

    If you was a pro; you would be taking a hundred shots a day, and you are bound to get good at it. Even Duffy, a hero I hadn't even heard of until I was educated here, left the lens cap on while doing an important shoot.

    I can see you've got the long hair problem, I just made that up, but obviously a shadow trap from a close light source, I thought I read somewhere you are supposed to have lights close, but anyway, large and not on the camera.

    The pose looks alright, but the background is a bit distracting for a portrait.

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Technically your there "pro" llook

    emotionally there is a ways to go...

    only one way to get there... in a word: "EXPERIENCE" and tons of practice.

    Imitate others till you can create your own style and look. It will come, just takes yearssssss

    .... that over night success that took 20 years to get there...

    23 years and still learning

    paul

  10. #10

    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    I do like that crop better Colin, thanks. I was trying to get out of my rut of tight crops on the face
    I forgot to do what worked best for THIS photo. Your edit looks great to me

    I tried to replicate your edit:
    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(
    Hey, I like the edited version ... Eliminating the distraction of the flower has fixed the problem. Are you using an automatic white balance. I only ask because I'm trying to master white balance in portraits.

    Ciaran

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheeler View Post
    Hey, I like the edited version ... Eliminating the distraction of the flower has fixed the problem. Are you using an automatic white balance. I only ask because I'm trying to master white balance in portraits.
    Ciaran

    I think most portrait shooters would say that for best results you should invest in white balance card(s). Then you take one photo with the card in the picture and use that to then balance the others taken in the series (under the same lighting conditions).

    Amongst the most well known White Balance cards is the WhiBal. But I know that Colin (Southern), for example, uses much more complex and detailed colour charts (along the lines of this) in his shots to get spot-on white balance.

    If you want the 'pro' look, this is the route you need to go. Relying on a camera setting or guesswork in PP is always going to be second-best.
    Last edited by Donald; 17th February 2012 at 09:45 AM.

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    What Donald said!

    Actually though, the grey-card side of the Colour Passport works just the same as any other grey card, but the colour checker side of things is used to produce a custom colour profile. Even with the colour profile the shots still need white-balancing though.

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Hi Brian,

    I like the shot but the background does take away from the picture, the flower is nice but its not about that. I would use a bigger aperture (2.8 to 5.6) rather than be forced to crop. A blurred back ground works well to put all the attention on the face. Perhaps slightly less flash to as she is fair skinned. Maybe a piece of trace paper over the flash to soften it. PS, I'm not a pro either so I may be wrong.

  14. #14
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Wow, I had forgotten all about this photo.
    Ciaran, thanks for posting!
    I see you have already have gathered some helpful info - awesome.
    To answer about this photo specifically, I did use a grey card as I recall. This is a very helpful tool and I do recommend having one. I can't comment on the color checker as I don't have one and have never used one.

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Really helpfull is the Datacolor Spydercube. Is has black, white and gray surfaces, a metal ball for highlights and a blacktrap for the deep blacks. Pretty expensive (to my Dutch opinion ), but very easy to use in the studio as on location. A the small sizes makes it easy to take it with you on your shoots. Since I owe the tiny Spydercube I seldom use my Gretag McBeth Colorchecker or graycards anymore.

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    That makes two of us. I am looking for exact same thing - That Pro Look. If you find it one day, or maybe already found it, please tell me where - I'll be looking in the same places.

    I got myself a gray card, I calibrated my monitor, but I think there is still something else in people's skin color, which correct white balance (even in combination with correct exposure) in many cases will not fix. And I think this "something" is called Magenta (as in CMYK), and it's what making people's faces look red in the pictures...

    I read about it here: http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93363 and I started applying the techniques described there, and I am not sure if I am on the right track with that or not ( Opinions to that affect are highly appreciated! ), but the results look better to me... Though still not giving me That Pro Look, as far as I can tell.

  17. #17
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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Hi Vladimir,
    I would say yes, I have found that pro look!
    That said, I am close to the level of what I consider 'pro', though if you want a reality check, I propose that you google 'photography' near where you live and see what they are selling. If your market is like mine, you will discover very few really good photogs, and many that you are already as good or better than
    How do you improve? Keep trying and seeking feedback from others. When you start seeing things you want change in your own photos, I think you are definitely on your way.

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Quote Originally Posted by vladimir View Post
    That makes two of us. I am looking for exact same thing - That Pro Look. If you find it one day, or maybe already found it, please tell me where - I'll be looking in the same places.

    I got myself a gray card, I calibrated my monitor, but I think there is still something else in people's skin color, which correct white balance (even in combination with correct exposure) in many cases will not fix. And I think this "something" is called Magenta (as in CMYK), and it's what making people's faces look red in the pictures...

    I read about it here: http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93363 and I started applying the techniques described there, and I am not sure if I am on the right track with that or not ( Opinions to that affect are highly appreciated! ), but the results look better to me... Though still not giving me That Pro Look, as far as I can tell.
    Probably the best thing to do is to post some images here so we can take a look and see what's going wrong for you.

  19. #19

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Probably the best thing to do is to post some images here so we can take a look and see what's going wrong for you.
    I appreciate the offer!
    I've already posted this in another thread, and I didn't really get any critical opinions there. But this is a good example of That Pro Look not being there:

    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Why I think it's not there?
    The face looks flat.
    The shadow on top of his head is too dark.
    The sleeve is dirty... Well, that is not necessarily a problem.

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    Re: Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Quote Originally Posted by vladimir View Post
    I appreciate the offer!
    I've already posted this in another thread, and I didn't really get any critical opinions there. But this is a good example of That Pro Look not being there:

    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    Why I think it's not there?
    The face looks flat.
    The shadow on top of his head is too dark.
    The sleeve is dirty... Well, that is not necessarily a problem.
    Hi Vladimir,

    I'm glad you posted this -- because it immediately shows up a few "pro look" problems (in fact - if you send me the original, I'll retouch it for you and send you back a "pro look" portrait).

    Issues ...

    1. The brightness control is set too high, and it's washed out a lot of skin detail

    2. There's too much black space around the outside, which takes away the impact of the shot

    3. It needs a border & better presentation

    4. Dirty sleeve needs fixing

    5. Lighting is too flat

    6. The mix of colours is distracting - especially the read

    I've tried to fix some of these in Photoshop to give you a better idea of what I mean (I desaturated the image to give you a better view of the lighting and less distraction)

    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

    I've also included one of mine to give you something to compare the points made above against ...

    Still Looking for that Pro Look on Portraits :(

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