More Detail in Portrait...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by finnschi, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. finnschi macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Hey guys, I just build myself a little home "studio" to get pictures like = http://www.flickr.com/photos/toma01/3171279418/in/photostream/


    but all i got was

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/46223471@N08/4241303350/in/photostream/

    I had almost the same setup the guy in the first picture, but I did not even come close to his picture in terms of sharpness and detail... Do you have any good advice on how I can get more detail in my Pictures :confused:

    I am using a 24-70mm F/2.8 and a 24mm 1.8 both from Sigma and both lenses did not give me the WOW effect... :eek:

    something is missing please point me into the right direction thx
     
  2. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #2
    So you're using flash are you? You're shooting on a 20D. You're using ISO 400, at 1/60th f2.8 - 24mm lens (I guess this was the zoom?)

    I think your problem will be one or more of:

    - Camera shake. Why are you shooting at 1/60th if you're using flash? If there's any ambient light in the room you may be getting some camera shake and associated softeness. Up the speed to 1/200th, and use only flash. Use manual mode, not program.
    - ISO 400. The 20D is old-ish and will shoot better/sharper at ISO 100. Flash provides plenty of light - no need to use ISO 400.
    - Lens. If this is the zoom, it's probably not at its very sharpest at the widest angle fully open. If it's the prime, it should be very sharp at f2.8.
    - Processing. Generally it's worthwhile sharpening the picture a little when you import it to CS4. Once you've colour corrected etc., you need to sharpen it again once you're decreased the size to its final size - use smart sharpen.


    You're actually using quite different settings to him. He's using f7.1 on a 35mm lens, at 1/200th. At f7.1 his lens is going to be a lot sharper.

    It's interesting to use wide apertures for creative effect (usually to blur the background or foreground). In your case, the background is dark, so there's really no point. Use something between f5.6 and f11 and your sharpness should improve.
     
  3. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    wohoo thx :eek: , the room was totally dark(basement) i used program so the ETTl works, but I guess I have to do it manually then... any yes it was the zoom, I'll try again in 10 Minutes with your recommended settings. I will use the Prime and stopp it down to 2.8 and 3.5 to check how the picture looks like :)

    I also didnt know I should sharpen it again after making it smaller :rolleyes:

    thy allot i'll post the next pictures in 15 minutes... stay tune if it worked


    also: should i use the flash to bounce of the wall that is further or closes to the model? :rolleyes:

    Thank you so much

    PS: I will also try F/7-11 :)
     
  4. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #4
    OK - try it again, and see what happens. Keep the flash exactly where it was - changing too many things at once will only confuse things!

    If you switch the camera to manual, the flash is still free to be automatic. The manual camera settings control how it deals with non-flash light.

    If you want to make a small change to the setup, I would place something white behind the model's head, off to the right side of the picture (out of the shot). This will reflect a little light back onto the back of her head, and therefore stop her hair from disappearing into the dark background.
     
  5. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Great Idea, have to do it tim taylor style :D but I get your idea!
     
  6. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #6
    the short duration of the flash should mask camera shake. there is still the possibility, but it is unlikely.

    there is not that a significant dropoff from ISO 100 to 400. the age of the 20D is irrelevant - there has hardly been any improvement in performance at different ISOs since the 20D, except at 1600+ (you could argue 800+, but still not 400).

    this might be a contributing factor, but I really doubt the difference would be visible in a web-sized image.

    so that leaves processing and lighting, which is where I think the problem lies. sharpening has to be done for the final output size. as for lighting, the photo you were trying to imitate has much more contrast - that means the light is placed almost directly to the left or right of the model, rather than being closer to the camera (front of the model). the photographer might have put on a snoot as well, but I don't really know.
     
  7. H2Ockey macrumors regular

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    #7
    My thoughts exactly. I saw three real differences in the two photos.
    1) focal length 24mm is pretty wide for a portrait
    2) light - your flash is very obviously on camera bounced off the ceiling. It is not bad but the one you are hoping to emulate is from one side creating the sharp contrast and shadows leading to depth.
    3) a little post processing. The computer is the dark room just more versatile. A little sharpening can go a long way.
     
  8. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    2. I bounced it of the left wall just like the other guy did (i asked him on Facebook ;) he also had the flash mounted on the camera :cool:

    I am getting my remote flash system this week, and my 3 Tripods.... :D that way I can Trigger all my 2 flashes (or just 1) remotely :D:D:D this is going to be sweeeettt


    well I think the wall he bounced the flash off was closer than my wall... (mine is about 2 meters from the camera, his about 30cm......)

    anyways the pictures came out much better now :)
    Still lots of room for Improvement but... :p better than nothing :eek:

    Ok so

    Striaght off camera Jpeg http://www.flickr.com/photos/46223471@N08/4241130333/

    Raw+ Post editing
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/46223471@N08/4241130149/in/photostream/

    Raw+ Post Editing + sharpening AFTER resize ( I dont actually know which size flickr shows.......) :p
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/46223471@N08/4241904060/in/photostream/

    I will mount my flash on the left side next time(when I get the remote flash system) ... with my new Model (my Girlfriend is not really happy of being used for my experiments anymore.... :p )

    I would still love some critics and Ideas on that ones ! :cool:
     
  9. H2Ockey macrumors regular

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    #9
    Big improvement.

    Now shoot a bunch and experiment, take notes on what you do and as firestarter said don't change too much between shots 1 variable at a time.
     
  10. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    that my Plan :) give me one year i'll be Pro heheh :rolleyes:
     
  11. fiercetiger224 macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    Hmm looks like he might have used a softbox to get "softer" lighting. You'll just have to toy around with the flash settings to get the right amount of lighting if you don't have a softbox. So if you shoot completely manually, you might get that desired effect. Just keep playing around with it until you get it. ;)
     
  12. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    he said he has not used one.... ;) maybe a diffuser on the flash itself but idk... i'll play around of course i don't want to copy someone but do great things myself :D this pic just inspired me so much :p
     
  13. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #13
    A couple additional notes.

    • What kind of tripod and head do you have? Inexpensive tripods may not give you quite the rock-solid steadiness you need, even with flash.
    • Are you using a remote shutter release (if not, you should)?
    • Also, are you using mirror lock-up (probably won't matter since it's a short exposure)?
    • Per firestarter's comment, definitely shoot ISO 100 - you want all the dynamic range you can get. Even if noise isn't an issue at ISO 400, you do lose some dynamic range with each increase in ISO.
     
  14. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14

    1. No Tripod all done handheld.... (any recomendations?)
    2. No why should I use it? i doN'T think Ill see a difference at 1/200 ?
    3. What is mirror lock up?
    4. I'll keep it at iso 100 :)


    thx
     
  15. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #15
    Oh, ok - I saw the tripod mention for the lights, so I just assumed you were shooting with your camera on a tripod. Did the other guy go handheld too?

    Tripods are a contentious subject, and any purchase generally ends up balancing ultimate performance against cost. Carbon fiber is expensive, but damps vibration very well. There are somewhat less expensive, but still good, aluminum tripods - they are not as good for outdoor shooting in the cold though simply because aluminum transfers heat to your hands much better than carbon fiber does.

    What I did was buy an Acratech ballhead ($300) and put it on some Manfrotto carbon fiber legs ($300). That sounds expensive, but there are significantly more expensive options out there... so even at $600 I was balancing cost against performance.

    A remote release isn't going to matter handheld. On a tripod, it's just one additional way to protect against camera movement, since you're not touching the camera when you trigger the shutter.

    We are talking about small differences, but still...

    Mirror lockup is usually used for long exposures - it helps eliminate any vibration from "mirror slap" when you open the shutter. With mirror lockup, you hit the shutter once to raise the mirror, then hit it again to take the photo.

    I'm not a portrait guy so I wasn't sure if there'd be benefit in using it for your typical short-exposure portrait shot. :D I use it a lot for landscapes.
     
  16. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #16
    I mentioned the possibility of camera shake in my first post, as the OP hadn't posted much in the way of exposure details.

    It turns out that the lighting here is 100% flash - so camera shake isn't going to be a problem (flash duration is very short) and he really doesn't need to worry about using a tripod. Similarly, mirror lockup isn't required.

    finnschi - your second attempt looks much better!
     
  17. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Thx :) I will still buy a Tripod just because its more convenient, and I was looking more at the ... 50€ segment (spend all my Christmas money on Lenses and the wonderfull METZ flash ...;) :eek: remote shutter and mirror lockup... I don't think it will do any difference @ 1/200 although I can see that it helps for landscape ( me <3 HDR)

    Thank you for all the Tips, i'll delete the "bad" version from my Flickr acc now, just because it looks clenaer that way (I have another account for all my holiday family blah pictures flickr.com/finnschi ... :cool: ) this one is the "best of " account ;)

    and yea add me as a contact and leave some comments (at Flickr) :p


    Thank you so much guys this forum amazes me every time ... :apple: FTW
     
  18. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    I also have 300views on my photos already... 57% from Macrumors.com you guys rock :D
     
  19. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #19
    Most lenses are sharpest around two stops from their maximum aperture- even expensive primes, so try stopping your Sigma down. You can still drag the shutter to admit ambient light as long as you're not shooting a moving subject as the flash duration is short enough to minimize blur in relatively static subjects so long as you're holding the camera reasonably still. Breathe out before you press the shutter.

    Side lighting will bring out more texture than front lighting, giving the appearance of more detail, so the further to one side you put your key and fill lights, the more you'll bring out textures, which will show detail. But you'll probably want to limit yourself to about 55 degrees off axis at the most.

    The closer the light is, the softer it is, and the more effective diffusers are, distant lights become a point source, but you lose some texture with the increased non-directionality up close- so experiment with the distance and diffusion. Lighting distance is generally the most counter-intuitive part of lighting, so work with power and distance to understand it, light follows the inverse square law, so it's easy to change the settings in lockstep.

    Remember for female subjects, showing skin texture is not generally considered flattering, and therefore, moving the key closer to the lens axis and the diffused lighting closer to the model are generally desired. Start at around 35-40 degrees from the center axis.

    A back light or gridded hair light adds dimension to the image- that's important for most portraits (if you're shooting high-key then no hair lights, but otherwise it's a good idea most of the time.)

    Paul
     
  20. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Too much information ... system failure oh wait i am mac... i got it :D

    thank you!!
     
  21. finnschi thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    so just so i got this right... stopping a lens down 2 stops means 1.8 stopped down to 3.8? or what is considered a stop? (thats a dumb question i know) is 3.8 then sharper than 7.1 ?
     
  22. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #22
    Generally it's difficult to make lenses very sharp wide open. As you stop down, you're using more of the centre of the lens which often increases sharpness. Stop down too much and physics/diffraction effects step in and decrease sharpness again.

    You're actually OK shooting pretty wide open with your Sigma zoom. If you check out Photozone.de, the measurements at 24mm f2.8 are pretty good (excellent in the centre of the picture).
     
  23. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #23
    1.8 isn't a "whole" stop, so 3.5 is two stops from it on most cameras which use a 1/3 stop scale. I generally shoot most portraits at f/8 on any lens, because that's a good sweet spot for sharpness and lighting- though sometimes I'll go to f/11 if I want to ramp the lights up another stop. The only downside is that you generally need a little more subject-background distance than most people think to set up- but it places the lights closer to the subject, so the lighting is softer too (assuming you can adjust power downwards enough.)

    Portraits are also generally going to look better[1] with a telephoto perspective- so in this case, I think you're much better off shooting with the 24-70 out at 70mm and at at least f/5.6, though I'd probably go to f/8 myself.

    Paul
    [1] There are faces that don't look good that way, but most faces do, large noses and very narrow faces may not like the compression as much, though the narrow face issues is better fixed with lighting.
     
  24. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #24
    A stop doubles the amount of light (or cuts it in half, depending on which way you're going). Since we're talking about the area of a circle (approximately - a len's aperture isn't perfectly circular of course), the difference between stops is technically the square root of 2 - for cameras, we're basically talking about multiplying by 1.4. So these apertures are considered one stop apart:

    f/1.4
    f/2
    f/2.8
    f/4
    f/5.6

    Since we're talking about light gathering, the same idea extends to exposure times and ISO settings. Jumping from .25 seconds to .5 seconds exposure is one stop. Going from ISO 400 to ISO 800 is one stop. So if, with your portrait, you're changing aperture one full stop, then you have to adjust either the shutter speed or ISO setting one full stop to compensate.
     
  25. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #25
    Or flash power.
     

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