Please criticise these portraits!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by annk, Mar 10, 2007.

  1. annk Administrator

    annk

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    #1
    Here are four portraits I took of my husband's granddaughter. I'd love to have some input on how future portraits could be done better.

    The lighting was natural daylight, on a cloudy day. One window let light in from the subject's right, another from in front (falling on her face). The background is just the wallpaper - slightly pink/peach and textured. I see already that I ought to have placed her where there was no seam.

    The first, second and fourth have lowered saturation and increased sharpening. I've also increased highlights (her skin is so light and translucent, it was hard to get any definition). The third I've allowed to be a bit more vibrant; the color of her eyes and dress are not completely accurate here, but it made for a more intense result.

    The two first have this info:

    1/60 @ f/3.5, 46 mm, ISO 400. The second two have the same, except for 1/50. I used a Canon 350D with a Canon 28-80 L 2.8-4. I used this lens because it is my "best" lens, but was it the best lens for the job? I also have the Canon 50 mm 1/8 II, ought I to have used that?

    She is a charmer, loves to be in front of the camera, and is a delight to photograph. :)

    Ronja1.jpg

    Ronja2.jpg

    Ronja3.jpg

    Ronja4.jpg
     
  2. igucl macrumors 6502a

    igucl

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    #2
    I'm not a photographer, but the first thing my eye notices is that the background color seems to blend in too well with the subject's skin color. That's the only thing I would change.
     
  3. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

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    #3
    First off, good job. These are really good shots, and they capture the emotions of the girl really well.
    Yes, using the 50mm would have gotten you slightly sharper results, especially when you stopped it down to f/4-f/5.6. Another, thing that I saw was the fact that you were using ISO 400. I understand that you needed to do this so that you could hand-hold the shots, but ISO200 would have produced smoother images. These are all minor things about technique, and just a matter of taste, nothing concrete.
    That said, I think the images could use some post-processing. They all seemed... a bit washed out. What mode were you using? In your position, shooting a person against a wall, I would have gone to manual mode, set my aperture to f/8-f/11 (remember- people against a wall means a flat image) if you want the wall to be in focus and in play, and set the speed to where it is underexposed about half a step.
    It doesn't mean that your photos aren't usable. Try increasing the saturation a bit, and perhaps up the color temperature. Also, if you're interested in creating an effect of shadow from the natural daylight, try meassing around with the contrast (ie- up it). Hope this helps.
     
  4. odaiwai macrumors member

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    #4
    Use the 50! Also, get the natural light on the subject's face and use the shadows from that to create depth. Always focus on the eyes.

    This is my daughter with a 50/1.4 (on my Pentax DSLR) just sitting on a windowsill with daylight.

    EDIT: also, get her to sit a bit further from the wall: the increased distance gives more depth to the picture. Consider having her pose against a wall painted in a solid colour or a seamless background. (A 50mm with really shallow depth of field is cheaper than a roll of seamless background!)
     

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  5. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #5
    I think the pictures are very cute. Your white balance, though, appears to be way off.

    Edit: I use the 300D at work, and own a Nikon D70. The 300D does a very poor job with auto white balance - perhaps that's a weakness in that whole line? It's a good argument for shooting in RAW (you can correct it somewhat on a JPEG, but not as well since some information is discarded)

    As odaiwai said - pull her a bit from the wall. Just doing that would accomplish a lot, without changing your lens choice or anything.
     
  6. Crawn2003 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    A couple ideas

    Sorry, I know they aren't 100% completely done but something I put together of the one photo I liked. Give you an idea of things you can do to minimize the background.

    Also color corrected the image a bit to get rid of the bluish color and brought out more of her skin tone. Also increased the saturation of her eyes a little to make the blue pop a little.

    So here you go, like I said they aren't the best I could do, but something I did while I'm on a little break from the rest of the work I have to get done. (I've got 75 images I need to go and apply a lot of work to and that's going to take up most of the afternoon...)

    ~Crawn
     

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  7. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #7
    Thanks for lots of comments so fast! :)

    Next time I'll put the camera on a tripod in order to use a lower ISO, and I'll use the 50 mm. :eek:

    I never even thought of bringing her farther away from the wall, but of course that's a great idea. And I was a bit at a loss as to where to focus, next time I'll concentrate on the eyes, thanks.

    Another thing I haven't even thought of, is white balance. They are washed-out. Part of that is likely my own vandalism in post processing - I tend to desaturate a lot and bring down color temperatures; I'm trying to get a sort of not-quite-black-and-white thing going. But the result is washed-out.

    I was shooting with the aperture priority program.

    Thanks for taking the time to do and post those, Crawn. :)

    They are all RAW, so I can go back to the beginning and try again.

    Here's one more - I didn't wash it out so much, there's a bit more contrast and color.

    Ronja5.jpg
     
  8. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

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    #8
    Don't have your model sitting straight facing you. Have her pointed about 45 degrees and then ask her to turn her head towards you.

    I'm afraid the skin tones don't look natural.
     
  9. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #9
    I would like to see more flesh tones, it looks to pale. Can you work with the lighting any.

    Agreed, it looks unnatural.
     
  10. Father Jack macrumors 68020

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    #10
    Thank you :)

    FJ
     
  11. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #11
    *hits forehead with hand*, gaah, of course, it looks strange to have her sitting facing me. I'll change that next time round.

    I agree the flesh tone is weird. She has REALLY pale skin, and I'm not experienced enough to know how to compensate for that. As far as lighting, since I'm using the light that comes in the windows, I can only try other times of day. Think I'll have to adjust my settings to compensate for lighting.
     
  12. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #12
    You need some key lighting, turn on a few lights in the room to warm up the face. Also if you can find a darker back round. That would even out the colors.
     
  13. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

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    #13
    The skin tones look a little Blue or Cyan. In Photoshop use colour balance to add a little yellow and / or a little red.

    If your photo is too Blue ... add some Yellow
    If your photo is too Cyan ... add some Red

    Play around with the colour sliders until you get a better colour.

    You might also want to increase the colour saturation or contrast a tad as well.

    FJ
     
  14. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #14
    Key lighting, what exactly is that?

    I'm beginning to think that part of my problem (besides plain inexperience) is that what I think I'm after, and what I think looks nice when I'm done with post processing, is actually not good. I need to train my eye. Maybe I need to find a few good portraits and practice by having them beside my own while I'm processing. That way, I can see what I have to do to get the same sort of balance and color.
     
  15. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #15
    Key lighting is the main light on the subject.
     
  16. Father Jack macrumors 68020

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    #16
    Sorry I should have said, if you are inexperienced best not to use RAW. RAW files require you to set colour balance.

    Just set the camera to shoot .jpg files and this should take care of colour problems. :)

    FJ
     
  17. annk thread starter Administrator

    annk

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    #17
    Ahh, ok. I thought that by using RAW I would be giving myself more room to work in post processing, but I see that I would give myself fewer problems to fix in jpg. :)

    Since I really like B and W, it occurs to me that perhaps I should concentrate on B and W for portraits, get the technical elements better under control, THEN move on to color. :confused:
     
  18. Father Jack macrumors 68020

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    #18
    Good luck with your photography.

    FJ :)
     
  19. Westside guy macrumors 601

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    #19
    This is totally incorrect. By default, your camera will pick (what it thinks is) the best white balance point regardless of whether you're storing it in RAW or JPEG. The choice of RAW versus JPEG is totally a matter of whether any in-camera post-processing is done.

    You can easily prove this to yourself. Take a shot in JPEG, then - changing nothing else - switch it over to RAW and take exactly the same shot. If the lighting hasn't changed, and the subject + composition hasn't changed, your shots will use exactly the same white balance point.

    If in doubt, read what your camera manual has to say about it.
     
  20. slicedbread macrumors regular

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    #20
    perhaps make use of the built in flash if you don't have additional lighting to add.

    if turns out too harsh, you can either drop the flash compensation, or use a piece of clean tissue in front of the flash to diffuse the light.
     
  21. tibbon macrumors member

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    #21
    I'd look into calibrating your monitor. I'm guessing that your monitor is the wrong color temperature, oversaturated, too red, etc... because everything of yours looks too blue. I'm not sure that it's just a white-balance issue from the RAW files, but that your monitor/viewing environment is screwed so you can't make accurate colour decisions.

    After that, I agree for the most part with what others have said. While it seems that you want to keep it candid, work on the posing a bit and the angles. Angles are very important in portraiture (used to work for a horrid studio until recently, but I did learn about how to get a portrait right.)

    You don't have to have extra strobes, and i'd recommend against on-camera flash almost all the time (I only use it if it's the ONLY way to get the photo taken... even a taller flash in the hot-shoe is 10x better than on-camera), then i'd just grab a lamp or something and move it around until it looks right. Nothing wrong with 'working' the natural lighting to be what you want.

    EDIT: Oh, and if you have time in shooting a portrait.. there's nothing wrong with using an 18% greycard.
     
  22. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #22
    Wow, I've got one of those gathering dust in my closet... I forgot about that. :D
     
  23. wmmk macrumors 68020

    wmmk

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    #23
    great shot. I use a K100D and am thinking of the 50mm f/1.4. What do you think of it? Is it good for work other than portraits? I'd really love to hear a first hand review!
     
  24. Cult Follower macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    the girl is lost in the background, but otherwise, nice shots.
     
  25. compuwar macrumors 601

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    #25
    As others have suggested, some more separation from the background would help, but more than that, some fill flash to light up her face and more importantly a good catchlight in the eyes will work wonders. You've got a great subject and got her to pose very well, so that's about all you need to achieve the best results.
     

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