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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk
Thread started 05 Dec 2017 (Tuesday) 15:25
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First Engagement Photo Session - Need advice (Also need advice on problems I have ran into)

 
tchild13
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Dec 05, 2017 15:25 |  #1

Hi all, so I use a NikonD3400. I have been using a 50mm prime lens but recently I have been sticking with a 35mm prime which is much better for me since the Nikon is dx format and I am able to work closer to my subjects. I have my first engagement photo session this weekend and I am planning on using only my 35mm since this is easiest to work with. I feel like the kit lens don't really do me any justice and my primes produce much better quality. What do you think about this?

I also have another question, Manual vs Aperture priority? I have only ever shot on manual so I know the ropes rather well. I have only recently got accustomed to metering properly and being mindful of skin tones (although I sometimes need to fix in light room). While looking up tips i've found that aperture priority is suggested.

Also, how do you capture a full body in focus when around f/2? Do you use the auto focus aspect, if so how do you make it so it doesn't auto focus around the knees or elsewhere when using a prime lens? I've ran into this problem a few times and end up switching to spot mode but I don't think this is suggested for engagement photos, is it?

Lastly, do you have any tips or tricks that you don't really hear of other people doing? I know I am going to kind of coach them a little bit and to keep conversing with them. I have a ton of different questions that I wish I could ask people but I don't really know any photographers out there that do these shoots.

Here is a link to my Instagram: https://www.instagram.​com/tycaptures/ (external link)
I don't think I produce poor images, I just have shot a certain way for several months now and I am starting to feel like my gears are not turning as quickly as they should be and I need some lube to make me (or my camera) more proficient.

Thank you!




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saea501
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Post has been last edited 7 days ago by saea501. 2 edits done in total.
Dec 05, 2017 15:52 |  #2

Welcome.

I looked quickly through your pictures....are you charging for this engagement session? Looking at your pictures I would suggest to you that you are not to the point in your experience as a photographer to be charging for your work. Most all of the pictures in your link are quite under exposed and many are not well composed. You are asking questions above that indicate to me that you are not all that familiar with your equipment or the basics of photography. You make a reference to shooting 'for several months'. It is just my opinion but several months of experience certainly doesn't put you in a position to be charging for work....that is, if you are.

If you are doing this at no charge to this couple for your experience then, again, based on your pictures, I think you need to become much more familiar with the basics like the exposure triangle and know exactly how shutter speed, aperture and ISO effect each other and why.

I also would suggest that using a 35mm for portraiture is too short, even on your crop sensor.

I think you are a ways away from professional quality work that you can charge customers for. And please understand, this is not meant to discourage you, as I know it sounds that way. As you said yourself.....' I am starting to feel like my gears are not turning as quickly as they should be and I need some lube to make me (or my camera) more proficient.'

That lube you mentioned.........is practice.

Good luck to you. I hope you stick around. There are many very talented people here that can teach you a great deal.


Remember what the DorMouse said.....feed your head.
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https://www.flickr.com ...282@N06/with/382034​70844/ (external link)

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tchild13
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Dec 05, 2017 16:24 as a reply to saea501's post |  #3

I know I mentioned for several months - I meant several months with a new DSLR. I know its still an entry level but the one I originally has was older. I have been shooting going on 3 years now.

I understand the exposure triangle and how the three effect each other. However like I mentioned I only have recently become really familiar with how to properly meter and all. I admit that some of my work is underexposed (some intentional) and I have been challenging myself recently to properly expose.

I am very fond of constructive criticism and am rather encouraged by your words, I simply have never been able to speak "out loud" to experienced professionals about things that I have had questions about. I know I am not an a seasoned photographer but I have had a little experience and have been shooting quite consistently for several months and I have seen much improvement in my work - although I still have a ways to go.

Thank you for taking the time to answer - I do have a few more questions. What lens do you think I should consider for the session and/or to buy for future (portrait) sessions? Also, do you have any other answers to my questions above?

Again, thank you so much. I really look forward to hearing from and learning from people and not just trying to find my answers via a youtube video.




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saea501
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Dec 05, 2017 17:44 as a reply to tchild13's post |  #4

Regarding the lens.....I used to shoot portraiture at about 85mm-105mm on a crop. To me it looks more natural.

You asked about full body focus at f2.....I wouldn't shoot it at an f2. You would want a greater DOF so, depending on the light, go with a smaller aperture. Not sure what you mean 'auto focus aspect'. I use Single point AF, but you have to find what works best for you in that regard.


Remember what the DorMouse said.....feed your head.
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gonzogolf
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Dec 05, 2017 20:12 |  #5

Before you charge for your services you need to get a handle on exposure, the nature and properties of light, and perspective distortion. Basically you need to control the light, use fill flash or a reflector to get light into the eyes. Barring that only do portrait work in existing light that flatters the subject.




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tchild13
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Dec 06, 2017 07:36 as a reply to gonzogolf's post |  #6

Thank you all for the advice! It really helps to get it from people that know what theyre talking about. I am going to challenge myself over the next month to further work on this.




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stsva
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Post has been last edited 6 days ago by stsva. 2 edits done in total.
Dec 06, 2017 09:28 |  #7

Here's some good info for you https://digital-photography-school.com ...guide-to-proper-exposure/ (external link) Also, when shooting in manual, if you have spot exposure metering available in your camera, take your exposure reading from the brightest part of the image where you want to preserve detail, then increase the exposure on that from a centered exposure to around 1.5 to 1.7 stops or so over the neutral exposure. That gives you the advantage of exposure to the right (look up in Google) and should eliminate your underexposure issues. If the result is too bright overall, you can drop the exposure in post. By the way, if not already doing so, shoot in RAW for greatest post-processing flexibility.


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stsva
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Dec 06, 2017 09:32 |  #8

Here's a quick way to check what depth of field you'll get for any given focal length, f-stop, and shooting distance - http://www.dofmaster.c​om/dofjs.html (external link)


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conraderb
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Dec 06, 2017 10:02 |  #9

IMHO, manual is, for 90% of situations, the only way to go. It's like driving a stick shift car - it takes a while to learn, but it forces your brain to learn how to read light 100%. Once you master it, any auto mode with a camera will just feel weird. (Metaphor - do you think any race car drivers use an auto transmission? Nope. They want control. Just like you).

You are absolutely on the right track - primes typically beat zooms for sharpness and the "look".

To get your focus right, you must practice practice practice. If you didn't already, turn OFF the autofocus at the shutter, so it is on the back thumb button. Do NOT have focusing controlled by your shutter button. Shutter button is ONLY shutter.

5 second look at your IG - you are fine. Keep at it. Practice practice practice. For each concept, shoot 20-30 frames. Eventually you will have more confidence and can shoot four, in order to keep one.




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tchild13
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Dec 06, 2017 13:22 |  #10

stsva wrote in post #18511831 (external link)
Here's a quick way to check what depth of field you'll get for any given focal length, f-stop, and shooting distance - http://www.dofmaster.c​om/dofjs.html (external link)

Thanks, this is uncharted territory for me and an a whole new level of understanding my lens. Cant wait to look into it more and practice!




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tchild13
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Dec 06, 2017 13:24 |  #11

stsva wrote in post #18511829 (external link)
Here's some good info for you https://digital-photography-school.com ...guide-to-proper-exposure/ (external link) Also, when shooting in manual, if you have spot exposure metering available in your camera, take your exposure reading from the brightest part of the image where you want to preserve detail, then increase the exposure on that from a centered exposure to around 1.5 to 1.7 stops or so over the neutral exposure. That gives you the advantage of exposure to the right (look up in Google) and should eliminate your underexposure issues. If the result is too bright overall, you can drop the exposure in post. By the way, if not already doing so, shoot in RAW for greatest post-processing flexibility.

I have just started doing this the my past few shoots but they still ended up slightly under exposed - I will check out the link. I do shoot in RAW though which has definitely helped fixed some of my underexposure!




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tchild13
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Dec 06, 2017 13:27 |  #12

conraderb wrote in post #18511872 (external link)
IMHO, manual is, for 90% of situations, the only way to go. It's like driving a stick shift car - it takes a while to learn, but it forces your brain to learn how to read light 100%. Once you master it, any auto mode with a camera will just feel weird. (Metaphor - do you think any race car drivers use an auto transmission? Nope. They want control. Just like you).

You are absolutely on the right track - primes typically beat zooms for sharpness and the "look".

To get your focus right, you must practice practice practice. If you didn't already, turn OFF the autofocus at the shutter, so it is on the back thumb button. Do NOT have focusing controlled by your shutter button. Shutter button is ONLY shutter.

5 second look at your IG - you are fine. Keep at it. Practice practice practice. For each concept, shoot 20-30 frames. Eventually you will have more confidence and can shoot four, in order to keep one.


Thanks for the tip - I will stick to manual as you're right, I need more practice. The first tip I learned when shooting was to use the back thump button. I ask other casual photographers I know if they do this (or tell others when they are using mine to shoot me) and no one understands why - it makes everything so much easier imo.

Thanks, I am becoming more confident in my work and being able to open my mind to others is really leading me in the right direction!




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jeffarmstrong
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Post has been edited 4 days ago by jeffarmstrong.
Dec 07, 2017 17:00 |  #13

I almost exclusively use primes for that very reason. That being said, I prefer a 50mm lens over a 35mm lens for most portraits. Even better, an 85mm up to 135mm.

I only shoot in manual mode, although I had one camera that I shot in aperture priority because of how difficult it was to change the shutter speed.

A 35mm on a crop of full frame should be able to fit a whole body in "focus". I only use spot focus.

Lastly, there are photographers that offer mentoring/coaching/wor​kshops. That might be a good idea if you're wanting to seriously invest in your skills.


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nathancarter
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Post has been edited 4 days ago by nathancarter.
Dec 08, 2017 11:18 |  #14

tchild13 wrote in post #18511402 (external link)
Also, how do you capture a full body in focus when around f/2? Do you use the auto focus aspect, if so how do you make it so it doesn't auto focus around the knees or elsewhere when using a prime lens? I've ran into this problem a few times and end up switching to spot mode but I don't think this is suggested for engagement photos, is it?

I'm gonna pick just this point for discussion. First, clearing up the semantics: When you say "end up switching to spot mode" I'm not sure if you're talking about Spot-metering, or manual selection of the focus point. There is a difference between metering and focusing. Don't use the phrase "spot mode" to refer to manual selection of the focus point, because "spot mode" refers to a form of metering.

On metering:
Metering is when you use the camera's computer to evaluate how much light is in the scene, so you get proper exposure. For metering, the camera usually defaults to Average or Evaluative metering, in which it uses the whole scene to figure out the correct exposure settings. If you switch to Spot metering, the camera will use only a small portion of the center of the image to figure out the correct exposure. However, metering for light/exposure is altogether different than focusing.

On focusing:
Autofocus is fine. However, letting the camera choose what to focus on is NOT fine. The camera will find the EASIEST thing to focus on, which will invariably be wrong - the knees, or the mountains in the distance, or whatever. Missed focus will ruin a portrait, and you can't get very far using "artistically out of focus" as a substitute for technical skill.

It's up to you to tell the camera what to focus on. Select the focus point manually (usually the top center for portraits), and put that focus point on the subject's face, or in the case of head/shoulders portraits, on the eyelashes. Then use your thumb button to focus on that face, and take the shot.

If your composition requires you to frame the subjects in such a way that you can't put the focus point on the face, you can use a technique called "focus-and-recompose." This means you pick the focus point that's nearest the face, put that focus point on the face, use thumb button to autofocus, then re-frame for composition and take the shot WITHOUT re-focusing. The faces will still mostly be in focus. Disclaimer: Focus-recompose does open you up for a little bit of focus error, but unless you're using a razor-thin depth-of-field on a very nearby subject, this focus error is often negligible and acceptable.

The camera can only focus on one thing - however, more than one thing can be in focus! Read up on the concept of the "focal plane." To greatly oversimplify: If you focus on the face of a person who is 8 feet away, then EVERYTHING that's 8 feet away will be in focus. So, if you have a group shot, make sure the faces are all lined up in the same plane. Make a flat wall out of faces, or the ones in front or back will be out of focus. If you have a standing subject, you can get the full body in focus by making sure the camera lens is perpendicular to the standing body - even if you're using a very wide aperture and shallow depth of field.


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Wilt
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Post has been last edited 3 days ago by Wilt. 2 edits done in total.
Dec 08, 2017 13:34 |  #15

Choose best FL based upon the assumption of being about 8-10' from your subject, and get framing appropriate to the TYPE of portrait!...full length vs. waist-up vs. head & shoulders vs. headshot, each requires different FL to use for 8-10' shooting distance, which is the distance for good facial perspective in the photo -- TOO CLOSE is NOT resulting in GOOD facial perspective!

With APS-C,at a shooting distance of 9' from subject results in


  • 22mm (35mm on FF) sees 6' x 9' for full length standing single/couple, small family
  • 32mm (50mm on FF) sees 4.2' x 6.25'
  • 50mm (80mm on FF) sees 2.7' x 4.0' for waist up portrat
  • 60mm (100mm on FF) sees 2.2' x 3.3' for head & shoulders
  • 95mm (150 on FF) sees 1.4' x 2.0' for headshot


If you shoot with 22mm on APS-C for full length couple standing 9' away, the 'manufacturer standard' DOF is predicted to be abour 3.3', but if you assume the more stringent assumption that your viewers have 20/20 vision the DOF is a mere 1.3' at f/2!

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