Engagement Photos critiques! Please tear me down!

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MattSepeta, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #1
    I just shot my 2nd "Engagement" a few days ago and am looking for some brutal feedback/critiques, as I have a few more this summer.

    These are pretty untouched, just some light Aperture 3 tweaks, as I am waiting to hear back from the couple which shots they want heavy-edited.

    So let me have it. These are out of the roughly 100 keepers.

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    A few of my own thoughts: I was trying to go for the over-exposed look that is just "so-hawt" right now, you know the look. I think I pretty much nailed it on the ones I tried it on.

    I do need to do some color balancing on most of these still, alot of them seem overly green.

    A few need slight rotations still.

    When looking through them all, I noticed that 95% of them are portrait-oriented. Is this a problem? I dont think it is, personally, but I would like to hear your guys opinions.

    Also: Pricing. I have been charging $150 for the 2 hour shoot, with 2 hours of post time, so 4 hours total. I think next summer I am going to charge more, maybe double what I have been. How does this compare to any of your rates?

    You can check out the rest at my site if you feel the need.

    PS: Shot with 50D and a 17-55 f/2.8IS and a Tamron 60 f/2Macro with a 430EXII for fill on a few. I used the Tamron for the VAST majority of the shooting. Addicted :p
     
  2. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #2
    Blown shirt arm and right shoulder distracts from the faces. I'd try toning them down a bit or maybe vignetting artificially and see where that lands you as well.

    Nailed this shot. Absolutely wonderful.

    Blown sky distracts from the faces.

    More reflection would have been nice, but the stand-offish body poses are what really hurt this one IMO.

    Fill flash for some catchlights in the eyes would help here. Her eyes opened wider would help too.

    Too much space between them and the pose is unflattering IMO (I mentally labeled this one "booty shot.")

    We can't see their eyes, so we can't connect with them. It's almost always better to have them look at the camera- there are exceptions, but this isn't one of them.

    Not a fan, but they might like it. Bright leading line in the middle messes it up a lot for me.

    Eyes again- probably even worse this time.

    The problem is that blowing the highlights in the wrong places leads the eye on a journey that's not going to produce the best work you can produce. You've got to have some balancing compositional element, like a high-contrast area you want to draw the eyes to, and either the negative space or some leading lines in the highlight areas for it to work well.

    Spend the $99 on a Passport and profile your camera in daylight. It'll mean any white balance issues are artistic from that point on and the colors will start neutral.

    Additionally, try to hit the golden light- you can still bump exposure, but the delta will be less harsh and you'll have more control than in shooting broad daylight.

    Just my opinions.

    Paul
     
  3. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #3
    Thanks!

    Great advice, thanks a ton!

    What is a "passport?" I tried googling it but could not come up with anything.

    Re: Golden Light: I was aiming for it, but due to tight schedules we had to take what we could get, and had to shoot in some pretty harsh 5.30 sun. Oh well!

    About the Eyes: That is GREAT advice. They kept asking me if they should look at the camera or each other or somewhere else, so I told them to just mix it up, sometimes just using my discretion and telling them to "look ____." Next time I will direct the couple to look at the camera more.

    What about posing? Are there any resources, like a library of common poses or something? I just spent about half an hour before the shoot browsing the top names portfolios, taking mental notes of the poses they use. Any better ideas, other than raw experience?

    Thank again :)
     
  4. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #4
    What is it with that look? I don't think it looks good in a "color" scene, especially in a wooded area where you can get some nice rich colors.

    You may want to try converting to B&W and try that over-exposed look there. Those are the only times I have liked it (obviously for wedding photography, given the clothing contrast). Silver Efx Pro is a good program for that - you should be able to try it on a free trial.

    The shot from behind is pretty unflattering - I'd toss that.
     
  5. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #5
  6. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #6
    Thanks for posting, the second shot is beautiful enough that it's something to strive for.

    X-rite Color Checker Passport. It's basically a Greytag McBeth color chart in a small portable plastic case. You can profile each individual shoot by including the passport in your current lighting conditions in a shot or two, then shooting without it the rest of the time and using the initial shot to profile all the other shots in ACR, RPP or any other workflow that allows profiled sensors. You can additionally profile each lens and more importantly- you can profile two bodies from different manufacturers or with different sensors and have their outputs match! Including a DLSR and a P&S.

    http://www.xrite.com/home.aspx

    Seriously spend the time to watch the videos- I learned about it from a phenomenal wedding photographer, and it was an "a ha!" moment for me- even for fine art, I want to start with reality then adjust to match my vision.

    Schedules are always tough- but your work is good enough that doing as much as you can to get the light will definitely help you with sales off of sample images.

    There's a *feeling* that documentary photography is more "truthful" and it makes it difficult to get into insisting that folks "do that, but look over here!" But the images will be so much better if the viewers can connect with the subjects. Shoot both ways and you get both results- then you can pick and choose, but my guess is that 99% of the time, you'll go for the "look at the camera" shots.

    Paul
     
  7. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #7
    I haven't shot any portraits of any sort, so my input won't be beneficial (in a growing type of way since I am no pro).

    However, if you are open to critique and willing to take that as a positive, you should post it here Wedding Forum .
    Amazing stuff is posted there!
     
  8. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #8
    Passport

    Sounds like I am going to be buying a Passport!

    When you say ACR and RPP, I assume you are talking about Adobe Camera Raw and I dont know what the other thing is... What exactly are profiled sensors?

    My workflow is Import using Aperture 3, make basic adjustments and RAW adjustments, export TIFF to photoshop CS4 for heavier editing, back into Aperture 3 for management, then out of Aperture 3 for web or HQ exports.

    Not sure how this product would work in this workflow. Any advice on my workflow either?
     
  9. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #9
    RPP is Raw Photo Processor, the best raw converter available, and one of the best reasons for owning a Mac IMO. Basic version is free, suggested donation of $20 for the advanced version which includes the ability to use a profile. I'm just getting ready to go through the whole gen a profile thing for an RPP article I'm trying to get together- for now, I generally use ACR when I want a profiled sensor.

    Unfortunately, Aperture doesn't have a way to add a profile, so your best bet is to use ACR (if you upgrade to CS5, ACR is miles better and worthwhile IMO.)

    Basically, profiling the sensor ensures that the colors you record and the colors that were there- all sensors have different sensitivities to parts of the spectrum. Blues and purples tend to be the worst to capture exactly, but the profile allows the camera's output to be mapped into a better space, just like profiling your monitor gives you more realistic looking images as you adjust them on screen. X-Rite makes several charts for profiling, the Passport is the most portable one, making it very nice for both color and white balance in challenging locations like flash/window/fluorescent light combos.

    You will likely want to try RPP out at some point, but for now, I'd profile, read the raw files into ACR applying the profile by default, save as TIFF then put them in Aperture at that point, along with the initial RAW file for storage.

    The profile is extracted from the shot you take with the Passport in the frame somewhere (preferably under the same lighting as your subject- but you don't *need* much more accuracy than "my camera in daylight," "my camera with flash," and "my camera under indoor lighting types."

    For instance, you shoot a bride getting ready with CFLs and apply the CFL profile, with incandescents, apply that profile- or you can shoot a shot with the Passport each time- they will be close enough for your work, but the addition of the Passport shot may elevate you a bit in the eyes of the customer.

    Paul
     
  10. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #10
    Thanks!

    That was incredibly helpful. Thank you!
     
  11. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2003
    #11
    You're the photographer, so you should dictate the schedule. I communicate very clearly with the clients that outdoor shoots absolutely must occur at a certain time (maybe starting 30 minutes before sunset) and I let them work their schedule around me.

    Good job overall though. Keep practicing!
     
  12. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #12
    Sorry, but did you ask the couple if they minded having their engagement photos posted over the web?

    I know I would be slightly unnerved if that was me and my fiance
     
  13. acearchie macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #13
    To me the majority of photos look over exposed.

    You probably know this but RAW photography has a tremendous amount of detail and shooting -1/3 or -2/3 on your exposure compensation, whilst looking dark in the camera, the detail is there to be able to bring out the shadows in Aperture.

    However, when the shot is overexposed there is nothing to bring back and although Aperture has a "recovery" tool I have never had any success getting anything out of it!
     
  14. MattSepeta thread starter macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #14
    Duke: Yes, they are aware. I have been doing the jobs on the cheap under the condition that I am able to use the image for advertising, critique things like this, portfolio, flyers, etc. It is stated in the contract, and I would never use someones likeness without their permission :)

    Anubis: In retrospect, I should have rescheduled. It was tight working from their side and my side, but I had a meeting with an acquaintance about shooting their wedding. Their photographer had backed out a week before the wedding and he came to me and we had to meet ASAP, so time was crunched. It was my fault though, all things considered. I really should know better than that!!

    Acearchie: I am going to have a more serious go at them in Aperture tonight to see what I can do. I imagine I can solve a lot of these issues. Thanks for the insight on the recovery tool though, I have not seen any tangible difference when using it either I just ignore it mostly :p I will surely start shooting at -1/3 in harsh lighting like that from here on out.

    Thanks a bunch guys!

    EDIT: Does aperture 3 have any way of selectively changing exposure, like an "exposure brush?" I have messed around with the dodge and burn brushes, but I am guessing those do not employ the RAW data?
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #15
    No, no, no- chimp your histogram, and if necessary use UniWB to ensure it's accurate- great exposure is better than throwing away half the information in your shots. Google ETTR.

    RPP has a highlight recovery mode, though you'd have to read the manual to see how it works- I've never used it. More importantly (to me) it has a "compressed exposure" slider that increases exposure except at the top where things will clip. I do find that occasionally useful.

    Paul
     
  16. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #16
    overexposure is fine. blowing out highlights that should have detail is not.

    too much of his shirt is missing, and why aren't they interacting?

    much of his shirt and collar looks blown out. I don't mind the sky being blown out, there's not enough of it to be real distraction.

    get closer. a reflection of their feet doesn't work. pose could be better.

    too much of her is missing, and what is the guy looking at?

    too far apart, pose isn't that interesting, and there's a blade of grass in the way

    a little too much of the shirt is gone, and eye contact or at least being able to see her eyes would be a lot better

    try for one where her face is visible

    I think this is ok, but it'd be better if one or both were facing the camera, and they were closer together.
     

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