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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Critique Corner 
Thread started 24 Mar 2014 (Monday) 10:01
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Rain ­ Lily
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Mar 24, 2014 10:01 |  #1

Hi, I'm new here, checking out this forum due to the recommendation of some other photographer friends from another forum. I'm interested in expanding my skills so critique is definitely wanted. Primarily an ambient light shooter but very interested in learning to incorporate strobes into some of my portraits. Thanks for any input you have to offer.

I'll start with one of my daughter from a couple years ago. Softlighter with flash, 24-70L lens.


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Scatterbrained
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Mar 24, 2014 15:01 |  #2

Aloha Rain Lily. Nice entrance into the board here. :) I personally think it looks nice, but a bit dark. I also think the pose would better be served with a square crop (I'm a sucker for square portraits). I opened it up in Lr, pushed it .3 and added some light to the pupils to better show those brown eyes. As far as posing goes I'll leave that up to people who actually shoot portraits regularly. My wife hates every image I take of our kids, so I imagine my advice in that regard wouldn't help you. :oops::lol:

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MisterMiagi72
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Mar 24, 2014 15:38 |  #3

I think it's a great shot. The darker space makes good for posting some lettering. Almost feels like an ad shot.


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texkam
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Mar 24, 2014 16:24 |  #4

Pretty shot. I would have brought her out away from the wall thus softening or even eliminating the texture and perhaps defining the left side of the head.




  
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Rain ­ Lily
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Mar 24, 2014 16:40 |  #5

Yo scatterbrained ;) Thanks for kicking this off. I really like what you did to the skin tones, they have a very nice glow that was lacking in the original posted picture, and the eyes look so much nicer. Square crop looks good too.

MM72 and texkam, both of you have offered some great comments as well. I appreciate the input. The texture is a bit eye-catching, for sure.

Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)




  
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cjef
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Mar 25, 2014 12:48 |  #6

Nice shot! I think the colour of the background really complements your daughter's eye/hair colour. The texture of the background is a little distracting, but trying to imagine what this would look like with a much softer green background leaves me thinking it might be a little boring. Having posed people before for work in a portrait studio I can't help but nitpick about a few things. Let me say again that I think this picture is well done, but if I'd taken the same picture for work I would've been slightly scolded for it. A few tips for getting nice looking portraits: seeing white in the eye either under or above the iris usually indicates that the model is looking up or down, which is obviously not an inherently bad thing, but seeing white like this on an almost straight-on angle makes it seem a little unnatural compared to what it may have looked like had you been a little higher up and using with a somewhat sharper downward angle. The second thing is that I feel I'm noticing a bit of tension in the lips. Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to judge having never seen you daughter outside of this picture :P One thing that helps get rid of this is to tell your model to relax their lips (surprise!), tilt their chin up and out (slightly) and push their ears up and out from their neck at the same time (also slightly). I realize how strange that sounds, but it works wonders for making portraits appear more natural. As with all 'rules', these are not infallible or guaranteed in any way, I've just found them helpful on more than one occasion. I'll just say again that I do like this picture :)




  
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Brooks ­ in ­ Tampa
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Mar 25, 2014 13:52 |  #7

Hi Lily,

I like this one but as Scatterbrained said it's too dark, specifically the shadows are too dark. I think it could use some fill and perhaps your light source is to small and too low at 3 o'clock.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Mar 26, 2014 02:02 |  #8

Scatterbrained wrote in post #16782933 (external link)
Aloha Rain Lily. Nice entrance into the board here. :) I personally think it looks nice, but a bit dark. I also think the pose would better be served with a square crop (I'm a sucker for square portraits). I opened it up in Lr, pushed it .3 and added some light to the pupils to better show those brown eyes. As far as posing goes I'll leave that up to people who actually shoot portraits regularly. My wife hates every image I take of our kids, so I imagine my advice in that regard wouldn't help you. :oops::lol:

I'm actually gonna disagree here. I get what you're saying, and I think that your suggestions might be more in line with the conventional flattering portrait. The thing is, I don't think that that's what this image is about. To me, this image is kind of dark, and it goes down to her pose and the expression on her face. Maybe I'm way off base, but I think there's sort of a sad and uncomfortable quality there, and I think it'd be better for THIS particular image to embrace that rather than to try to make the image into a completely different kind of image. If it needs to be a conventional flattering portrait, then it needs to be shot again. But otherwise, I think the original image is kind of working.

1) Yes, I think the original image is a bit dark. But "dark" seems to be kind of what the image is about. I don't think you can mess with that too much (but maybe a little bit is okay) without severely mucking up what makes the image appealing. I like this image because it IS dark (not just in terms of exposure, but in terms of concept). The dark values match the darkness in the concept. Maybe the two together is sort of forcing the point, but on a hypothetical level it makes sense to me that the dark values work. It seems appropriate.

2) On the crop. I prefer the wider shot with the empty wall. Yeah, that's not normally what I'd recommend. But in this case it kind of works, I think. That empty space reinforces the uncomfortable look in her face. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think she looks happy (even with the crop). She looks uncomfortable. Showing more of the wall sort of emphasizes the point that she's alone in her discomfort. It increases the distances between her and anything else she can relate to, it makes her more lonely and isolated and distant. Yes, that evokes discomfort, but her expression seems to be stating discomfort anyway so I think it's at least appropriate to embrace that.




  
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planet5D
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Mar 26, 2014 09:30 |  #9

I love how there are so many differing opinions.

I love the original format and don't care at all for @scaterbrain's square crop... too dead center are her eyes in that.

I love the darkness and the negative space on the left.

I completely agree with @clean gene here


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Rain ­ Lily
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Mar 26, 2014 10:27 |  #10

cjef wrote in post #16785265 (external link)
Nice shot! I think the colour of the background really complements your daughter's eye/hair colour. The texture of the background is a little distracting, but trying to imagine what this would look like with a much softer green background leaves me thinking it might be a little boring. Having posed people before for work in a portrait studio I can't help but nitpick about a few things. Let me say again that I think this picture is well done, but if I'd taken the same picture for work I would've been slightly scolded for it. A few tips for getting nice looking portraits: seeing white in the eye either under or above the iris usually indicates that the model is looking up or down, which is obviously not an inherently bad thing, but seeing white like this on an almost straight-on angle makes it seem a little unnatural compared to what it may have looked like had you been a little higher up and using with a somewhat sharper downward angle. The second thing is that I feel I'm noticing a bit of tension in the lips. Maybe, maybe not. It's hard to judge having never seen you daughter outside of this picture :P One thing that helps get rid of this is to tell your model to relax their lips (surprise!), tilt their chin up and out (slightly) and push their ears up and out from their neck at the same time (also slightly). I realize how strange that sounds, but it works wonders for making portraits appear more natural. As with all 'rules', these are not infallible or guaranteed in any way, I've just found them helpful on more than one occasion. I'll just say again that I do like this picture :)

Thanks for all the information, I appreciate your time and suggestions, especially the comments about the eyes. Something to definitely remember.

As for the lips, I also appreciate your input but I will say that while my daughter does not have buck teeth, her natural relaxed position of her mouth is with lips open and teeth slightly open, because she has a bit more upper gum than many people. When she does close her mouth, there is definitely a tension about the lips. Nothing unrelaxed about it in her case, it just takes a little more effort for her to close her mouth.

But I do agree that tension can show in the mouth with nervous subjects. She's been in front of my camera for many years and most likely would tend to show annoyance rather than nervousness :lol::lol: but again, something to remember. One thing is that I should have had her moisten her lips. :confused:

Thanks again for the comments!




  
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Rain ­ Lily
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Mar 26, 2014 10:28 |  #11

Brooks in Tampa wrote in post #16785419 (external link)
Hi Lily,

I like this one but as Scatterbrained said it's too dark, specifically the shadows are too dark. I think it could use some fill and perhaps your light source is to small and too low at 3 o'clock.

Hello, Brooks in Tampa, do I know you? :D:D

I think I was using the 45" softlighter this time if I am remembering correctly. Will try this again soon with larger softlighter and set it closer as well - maybe I can get some wraparound light and pull up those shadows a bit.

Or maybe I'll try a certain AB I have on loan :D




  
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Rain ­ Lily
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Mar 26, 2014 10:32 |  #12

Clean Gene wrote in post #16786953 (external link)
I'm actually gonna disagree here. I get what you're saying, and I think that your suggestions might be more in line with the conventional flattering portrait. The thing is, I don't think that that's what this image is about. To me, this image is kind of dark, and it goes down to her pose and the expression on her face. Maybe I'm way off base, but I think there's sort of a sad and uncomfortable quality there, and I think it'd be better for THIS particular image to embrace that rather than to try to make the image into a completely different kind of image. If it needs to be a conventional flattering portrait, then it needs to be shot again. But otherwise, I think the original image is kind of working.

1) Yes, I think the original image is a bit dark. But "dark" seems to be kind of what the image is about. I don't think you can mess with that too much (but maybe a little bit is okay) without severely mucking up what makes the image appealing. I like this image because it IS dark (not just in terms of exposure, but in terms of concept). The dark values match the darkness in the concept. Maybe the two together is sort of forcing the point, but on a hypothetical level it makes sense to me that the dark values work. It seems appropriate.

2) On the crop. I prefer the wider shot with the empty wall. Yeah, that's not normally what I'd recommend. But in this case it kind of works, I think. That empty space reinforces the uncomfortable look in her face. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think she looks happy (even with the crop). She looks uncomfortable. Showing more of the wall sort of emphasizes the point that she's alone in her discomfort. It increases the distances between her and anything else she can relate to, it makes her more lonely and isolated and distant. Yes, that evokes discomfort, but her expression seems to be stating discomfort anyway so I think it's at least appropriate to embrace that.

Wow, I've not had that reaction to this picture before! Very interesting to me and I appreciate you sharing the impressions you got from it. I will assure you she was not uncomfortable or sad but I should really watch out for expressions that might be borderline between serious and sad or uncomfortable. Thanks for sharing that, something new to stay on top of.

That being said, I do like the more dramatic lighting here - but I would also like to try it again and decrease the lighting ratio a bit to see what I like better.

Thanks for the comments!

planet5D wrote in post #16787534 (external link)
I love how there are so many differing opinions.

I love the original format and don't care at all for @scaterbrain's square crop... too dead center are her eyes in that.

I love the darkness and the negative space on the left.

I completely agree with @clean gene here

Thank you much, I appreciate your comments! I like hearing all the different opinions too, they all are valid and all help me learn. :)




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Mar 27, 2014 00:11 |  #13

planet5D wrote in post #16787534 (external link)
I love how there are so many differing opinions.

I love the original format and don't care at all for @scaterbrain's square crop... too dead center are her eyes in that.

I love the darkness and the negative space on the left.

I completely agree with @clean gene here

Now that you mention that...I'm gonna provide a comment that completely goes against everything I just said. You mention that in the cropped version, her eyes are too dead center? Well...I kind of like that too. Dead center eyes are directly engaging the viewer. In the uncropped version, she was alone in her discomfort. In this version, she still looks uncomfortable but there's nowhere for the viewer to go. She's looking straight out at you, you have to engage with her because the image was cropped more in such a way that there's nowhere else for you to go. In the uncropped version, the empty space made her feel more isolated. But thinking about it again, that also allows the viewer a place of comfort where his eye can escape her gaze. In the cropped version, she's looking right at the viewer, the viewer has to confront that, and there's no room for the viewer's eye to escape. If the uncropped version made the girl seem more alone, the cropped version makes me feel trapped with her in her discomfort.

Not saying that I've changed my mind, but it's something else for me to think about.




  
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Rain ­ Lily
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Mar 27, 2014 07:47 |  #14

I am super happy to have submitted a portrait that made you think! That's what all the sharing is about, thinking and learning and teaching. :) Thanks for coming back to comment further!




  
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