Debuting in potrait. Need some advice.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Whiteapple, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. Whiteapple macrumors regular

    Whiteapple

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Location:
    Haute Savoie,France
    #1
    Salutations,

    I will need to shoot approx. 30 kids (with my 30D...) in a while, and I need to know some little things, so I use my time efficiently.

    1- What lens? 50mm f1.8 is what I was thinking of. I haven't got much money. I use an EF 28-105 type I, but happen to find it crappy on that body, especially regarding sharpness...

    2-Is it frequent to shoot in Landscape? Or solely portrait? I prefer Landscape, and the prints will be so. Is that disturbing?

    3- Lighting. I do not know how to use a flash, but have a speedlite, and prefer to use ambient light, or close-up spotlights, in fact. Problem is the kids will be blinded if too strong. I could tweak that.

    4- Composition. I need some quick basics to produce (not perfect) but (OK) shots. Websites?

    5- Thanks for your future input.
     
  2. coldrain macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    #2
    What 28-105mm do you actually have? The f3.5-4.5 or the f4.5-5.6?

    The 3.5-4.5 has good colour and contrast, it is not the sharpest lens available but it is not bad though. Do not judge portrait photos at 100% screen resolution, and learn to use USM in photoshop in a subtle way. 80/0.5-0.7/0 are good values to start with.

    The 50mm f1.8 is an ok lens, not the sharpest on the block either (that is not necessary anyway) but it is quite cheaply built. Go try it in person first.

    A 85mm f1.8 and some more distance can not easily be beat portrait image quality wise.
     
  3. Whiteapple thread starter macrumors regular

    Whiteapple

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Location:
    Haute Savoie,France
    #3
    I have the f3.5-4.5. Color is good, but I don't feel I use the full potential of this lens with my body (in fact, the other way round :p).

    the 85mm is a tad expensive. Here in Europe (at least the shop I go to), you cannot try the lens. You can touch it, but not use it before purchase.

    We shall see.

    Thanks ;)
     
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #4
    You don't need a sharp lens to shoot portraits.

    I'd just use the 50 mm f/1.8. Are you shooting indoors, or are you shooting outside with trees in the background?

    Anyway, if you're using a speedlight, just aim the speedlight at the ceiling or something. The kids may get "panda eyes" though, since the ridge where your eyebrows sit may block some of the eyes, resulting in a slight shadow underneath them. I don't know. Give it a try. Just make sure you don't photograph them from up-close with the flash pointed directly at them.

    And I'd shoot in "portrait" if I were you. I think it looks better, and I think there's a good reason why they call that orientation "portrait" and the other "landscape." Shooting a portrait in "landscape" orientation isn't choice. ;)
     
  5. Whiteapple thread starter macrumors regular

    Whiteapple

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Location:
    Haute Savoie,France
    #5
    I don't know how to use the speedlight. Sync & stuff is something I'm not even close from mastering.

    I was thinking: I wanna shoot indoors, with perhaps a background paper (white). I dont want to use a flash, but rather a nice soft yellow (perhaps white) lamp, since it will most likely be converted to B&W, it doesnt matter.

    Yeah I dont feel confortable with the flash...

    I think I'll just buy that cheap 50mm f1.8, and practise on my little brother before having them all.

    As for Portrait and Landscape, I'ill just listen to you:)
     
  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #6
    Sharpness is normally a detriment for portraits where skin flaws aren't necessarily something people want to see...

    It's been pointed out it's called portrait mode, I'll also point out that if you deviate from poses and other standard conventions your work won't look "right" to most viewers.

    Hot lights will cause pupils to narrow- that _sucks_ for portraits of kids. Not having a catchlight in the eyes _sucks_ for portraits period. Learn to use your flash- look to diffuse the light if you can't bounce off a ceiling (there are directions for foam bounce diffusers online.) Also Google for "dragging the shutter" as you really want as much "good" ambient light as possible, but you need to use flash to control the light.


    A quick Google for portrait posing should give you the classic men's and women's poses. They're classic for a reason, and again I'd only deviate if you know what you're doing.
     
  7. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #7
    I'm going to play the role of jerk here.

    First to answer your question, it is assumed that you have to photograph 30 kids individually. Second, I wouldn't use a yellow light and just convert to b&w since your overall knowledge of what you're doing suggests that you're going to just desaturate your photographs in photoshop or something like that. I would use that light and create a custom white balance to be sure the photos are right in color and then convert them to black and white using channels. I would also really suggest using a speedlight and if you're uncomfortable with that then get comfortable because you have to work with light you produce, 30 kids is going to take a while and the lighting will change throughout the day regardless of your little yellow house lamp.

    It sounds like someone has hired you to do a job that you simply cannot handle yet. I understand you're trying to learn but based on the camera body you already own I'd venture to guess that poor thing is going to waste being used on A more often than not. My advice to you is to borrow or rent a speedlight and start practicing using a stuffed animal or something like that. Work with the lighting and such to see how the light falls and be sure if you bounce the light off the ceiling that something is set up below the child to bounce light back onto their face and light their sunken eyes. I would suggest using a reflector--google it.

    I do not mean to be mean but if you are being asked to photograph these children then chances are the person who hired you or asked you is expecting a nice photo...give it to them.
     
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #8
    I'm with Jessica on this one: If you can't control the light, you really shouldn't be doing formal portraits. It's not difficult to do, but you really should be able to light correctly. At least two sources.

    White backgrounds reflect a lot of light. That's likely to be detrimental if you already can't control the light. For color portraits, most people prefer blue backgrounds. Paper can be too reflective as well, depending on its surface and coating- make sure you practice with your background and look critically for unevenness and other flaws.

    Then that's where you should spend your time. In manual mode, dragging the shutter. Portraiture is so much about controlling the light, getting the catchlights right, and controlling where on the face shadows do and don't fall that artificial lighting is almost always a must for it.

    Portraiture is about 60% lighting, 20% posing and 20% getting the subject comfortable. The last 40% is difficult with children, you need to learn to nail the first 60%.

    Shallower depth of field helps to isolate the subject, but you can get the lighting and posing right with the lens you already have, and with good background separation you can take the shots with what you have (and perhaps get away without needing a backlight.) You should spend as much time doing so as possible. Practice with boy and girl poses, learn how low you'll need to be to get different height subjects with the same look. Learn what short side and broad side lighting will do to fatter and longer faces, and get the flash off the camera to allow for it if you really want the best results.


    Links:

    http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=007pax
    http://www.planetneil.com/faq/dragging-the-shutter.html
    http://www.zuga.net/articles/article_168.shtml
    http://www.zuga.net/articles/article_171.shtml
    http://www.zuga.net/articles/article_173.shtml
     

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