First attempts at headshots/portraits

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by TexasChemE, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. TexasChemE macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2011
    Hi all. One of my friends needed some new shots of himself for some acting he does, so I offered to try it for him! This was my first time taking headshots/portraits for someone, and I would like a little constructive criticism on these!

    DSC_0047 by Bradfleu, on Flickr
    (He preferred to keep his glasses on for all the shots, so I wasn't sure on how to go about the glare and reflections)

    DSC_0015 by Bradfleu, on Flickr

    DSC_0008 by Bradfleu, on Flickr

    Let me know what you think!
  2. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Only things I would quickly add is that the final picture is perhaps a little under exposed and although the angles you have are nice the rim of his glasses in the first two are getting quite close to his eyes so I would maybe try getting a bit more on his level to reduce that.

    In the first two there isn't much separation from the background. Either have a plain background with a hair light to add the separation or move further away so the busy background is out of focus at least that it what I would do!

    These are quite straight forward (as in "safe", good for business cards, websites, etc.) perhaps maybe try some more high contrast shots.

    Don't know if you have a flashgun but maybe experiment if you do!

    Look forward to seeing some more!
  3. charlieegan3 macrumors 68020


    Feb 16, 2012
    I think the 1st is the best one but I agree with the previous post about the eyes being to close to the rims of the glasses.
  4. initialsBB macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2010
    I agree with both previous posts, especially for the third shot where a reflector or flash may have helped. Also reflections in the glasses can be a bit distracting. But you've done a great job overall, especially colors. Impressive for a first attempt, well done !
  5. TexasChemE thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2011
    I didn't even consider the rims of the glasses being to close to his eyes, thanks for pointing that out! Definitely helps to get feedback when you're a novice haha :)

    Regarding the background, I did think of that when I was doing it, but I moved in just a big closer because I was using a 50mm at f/2.8. But maybe next time ill try a longer focal length.

    I do have a single SB600 flashgun I can use off camera (with the main flash on my D90 as commander). I tried it on a few shots, but I wasn't completely sure on where I should place it, so I wasn't too pleased with the results. I'll try it out some more and see what works best.
  6. acearchie macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2006
    Just to point out that I don't mind about the distance between the subject but the distance between the subject and the wall. I believe in a good portrait the subject should be in a nice setting but separated from the background so I look to them first then to the setting.

    Check out the strobist blog if you are looking for inspiration.

    If you want to start simple try bouncing the light off the ceiling for a soft feel. Try and trigger with the onboard flash but don't allow the onboard flash to fire during the shot as this will often fill in the face with light and isn't that appealing.
  7. TexasChemE thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2011
    Oh, I see what you mean with the background. Thanks for your insight! I'll definitely look at the strobist blog for some ideas and inspiration.
  8. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    These are certainly not bad at all, but if you're pushing yourself to improve, here are my thoughts.

    1) As was said by others, don't sit him so close to a background. The 2nd shot was done well in this regard.

    2) Try shooting between 100 mm - 130 mm. You'll find that his nose won't be so pronounced and he'll probably look a little more pleasing. Don't go all the way to 200 mm or he'll look flat.

    3) Try and get some light on the back of his head/shoulders. The easy way is to have the sun do that and then reflect into his face from the sun, but that's just one way of many to do it. (Also, you may not want the sunny look so you'll want a more subtle light. But find something, whatever it is.)

    4) When you do a face with one side darker than the other (like #3) make the lighter side the side of the face that's away from the camera. So in that shot he's showing more of his left cheek...his right cheek should be the brighter one in that shot. (Or, easier than moving the lighting, have him turn his head and switch the way he's facing.)

    5) You can help glasses reflection by taking the back of the wires over his ears and pushing them UP about a half inch. Be careful not to go so far that they look weird, but just a little movement can help a lot by changing the angle of the lenses.

    6) Run a large, feathered 'sharpen' tool over his eyes. Just a little bit. You'll be amazed at how much a slightly sharpened eyeball can really pull you into a photo as a viewer.

    But I'm getting very nit-picky there, just because you asked! These photos are already quite good and I bet the subject was thrilled with them. That's your first responsibility so feel good about that! But yeah, nothing wrong with wanting to push yourself past that level. You're doing great already.
  9. FlailingAround macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2012
    Up A Creek
    I agree with everything Small White Car says, especially #2.

    His nose looks abnormally large with the 50 you used.

    Great start, though.
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Other said most of what I would have said except to add...

    1) the classic "fix" for avoiding reflections from glasses as well is a the distortion they cause of the eyes is to remove the glass from the frames.

    2) on a "crop body" dSLR a 100mm lens is a bit to long. The current style is to get a little close. The really long camera to subject distance does compess the nose and face but can look to formal, closer is more engaging but not so close you see distortion. Experiment

    3) yes keep the background farther away. You can fix this in Photoshop by making a mask and blurring the background but best to do it in-camera.

    4) I would not split the background behind his head. Keep it uniform in the area that surounds the face.

    If this is for acting, you need these "head shoots" but also some environmental portraits too that show him with different "looks".

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