Portrait shot opinions

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Daremo, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. Daremo macrumors 68020


    Jul 3, 2007
    Hey guys,

    This is the the shot I was happiest with out of a shoot here at home of my daughter. It's actually the first portrait shot I've ever tried, and I'm brand new to the Nikon D60, so I'm looking for comments, suggestions, and advice.

    Since I don't have extra money at the moment for lighting, I put together some homemade lighting, with a couple of those silver bowl type work lights, with some daylight bulbs, and then covered with a white material to defuse the light. She's lit on both sides, with a plain backdrop behind her.

    Here's the exif info...

    Nikon D60
    Lens: VR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G
    Focal Length: 55mm
    Focus Mode: AF-A
    AF-Area Mode: Closest Subject
    VR Control: ON

    Aperture: F/6.3
    Shutter Speed: 1/3s
    Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority
    Exposure Comp.: +0.3EV
    Metering Mode: Matrix
    Sensitivity: ISO 200

    And here's the photo...

    Attached Files:

  2. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    Pretty good, for your first attempt... though your daughter looks a bit bored (maybe dad was fiddling with his home-made lighting a bit too long ;)). Just keep on shooting...
  3. Daremo thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jul 3, 2007
    Hahaha! It was the end of shooting, and I asked her to put her hand on her chin like that, and she had said "Like I'm bored?" I said yes!

    So, it WAS intentional, but I do believe a bit of truth as well. :)
  4. bertpalmer macrumors 6502

    Apr 12, 2007
    Yeah she does look a bit bored - unfortunatelty she is pushing her cheek up making one eye look a lot bigger than the other which isn't helped by the shadow.

    Don't get me wrong - I think it is a great first effort. I hve taken a LOT of portraits of people and I would say that it helps if you manage to capture some sort of emotion. A laugh or smile is a lot more memorable. Interact with her and tell her jokes - get her to play with a game or toy or something.

    I find her big purple watch a bit distracting - maybe ask her to take it off.

    Great first attempt though. Look forward to seeing any more you have.
  5. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    The lighting for me is a little hot on one side, and a little weak on the other, not sure if you were trying to create a key light, but I think the angle at which you have the lighting might need to be addressed? Or how close it is to your daughter?

    It looks as though the light is hitting her face quite side on? Maybe try a bit more of a higher cross light at 45 degrees?

    Just my two pence but great effort! (Never done portrait as I'm really new, but I'm not new to lighting!)
  6. SayCheese macrumors 6502a

    Jun 14, 2007
    Thame, Oxfordshire, England
    Good first attempt.
    Just the distracting catchlight in the eye from the light.
    Maybe a small tilt of the head one way or another would have been beneficial.
  7. Cliff3 macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area
    It seems a bit overexposed to me, and 1/3 sec exposure seems long given the amount of light you have to work with. I would shorten that to 1/4 or 1/8 or more and see how things turn out. You probably can't tone down those work lights any more, so it might be best to bounce those off something reflective, or through something translucent. If you only have two lights, a third would be helpful to light her from behind and help separate her from the background. If you're using the on-camera flash, I wouldn't. They're harsh and having the light come from the same direction as the camera flattens the image.

    FWIW, I was playing with portraiture and studio lighting for the first time yesterday too, but forgive me as my model is the polar opposite of cute (i.e.: that model would be me). My budget is larger than yours, but not large enough to accommodate honest-to-goodness studio strobes and full-size softboxes. I've got a strobe (SB-800) inside a small softbox low and to my left, another strobe (SB-600) shooting through an umbrella high to my right, and a third strobe (SB-800) inside a softbox behind and over me. The strobes are in manual mode and pretty low power - I think the one to my left was at 1/32 power and the other 2 were at 1/50 - something like that. I am sitting in front of a black paper background. 1/60 @ f4 and ISO 200 - D700 with 85mm f1.4

  8. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Lose the watch, "fix" the one eye being bigger than the other (somehow), the fingers are nearly blown out--I'd bring the exposure down 1/3 or 2/3s. Fix the hair a little bit... this is very tough to keep track of for female models, but their hair should be as non-errant (word choice is strange, I know) as possible. That is, brush it often--the hair on her shoulder shouldn't be there.

    All that is highly critical, and this is a good first attempt technically. I will say (without sugarcoating) that I'm disappointed in her expression. She didn't smile? The photo with a natural smile should be the best shot. Oh well, I can empathize. I just dealt with an uncooperative subject three or four days ago. Miserable.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Not bad but next time

    1) The watch is distracting,
    2) Lighting is slightly to contrasty
    3) Why f/6? going to f/2 or even f/4 would allow a more reasonable shutter speed and squash the DOF a bit too.

    With digital you can shoot a lot. Sometimes I'll take 8 or 10 shots just to "warm up" the subject. You need to interact them them and keep them moving or that get bored and pose. Keep the session moving
  10. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    For great examples of portraiture, google Yousuf Karsh, and read some of his stories. His heyday was the 40's to 60's, but he was working right up to late 90's. The important thing to note is that he was using "hot lights" ie lights that are on continuously (like the OP) and not strobes. Incredible work can be done without "fancy" studio strobes. I tell photo students that portraiture is both the easiest and the most difficult kind of photography. Easiest because the technical requirements are so modest ( a camera with a good lense, and a window as the bare minimum. Other equipment makes your life easier, and gives a photographer more flexibility. But aren't required to get started.) Most difficult because you're dealing with people. If the photographer can't deal well with people, then no amount of equipment will help. Read about Karsh (and other great portraiturists) to understand how they dealt with people. Technical details can be learned, but getting that perfect expression on your sitter's face is the hard part. Figure on getting about 1 good image per 30 or 50 shot. If you take your time. Worse odds if you snap haphazardly.

    Karsh also worked in BW mostly, and I recommend you also initially work in BW. Again, look at other great BW portraits. You can get a great sense of how they lit the scene looking at BW. It is very easy then to see what "tones" (exposures) you are getting without the distraction of colour. If you can take good BW photos, then your colour photos should improve as well.

    Good first attempt. Continue to have some fun.
  11. Daremo thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jul 3, 2007
    Guys, these tips are priceless! Thanks for all the suggestions, and I will put them all to use in the next shoot!

    Thanks, and by all means, if anyone has more for me, keep them coming. I'm a total sponge right now for any help I can get.
  12. Daremo thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jul 3, 2007
    I know absolutely nothing about lighting placement. The light on left side is closer to her, and the one on the right is further away. They are pointed directly at her. I can see this as being an issue for sure. If I thought I was going to get a shot I actually liked, I would have took different steps, like brish her hair. haha. I set up the lights, and said "COme be my guinea pig!". I was just testing out the lights, and sort of surprised myself.

    I can't wait to take these tips and apply them.

    Thanks again guys!

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