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Thread started 10 May 2009 (Sunday) 22:10
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First Attempt @ People +Outdoor Flash

 
briancmo
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May 10, 2009 22:10 |  #1

Overall I'm pretty happy. I would have liked to have enough time to set up a tripod and be able to use a longer lens, not to mention get to play with the flash more or use a bounce, but the results I think are ok.

Do people gel flashes outdoors to warm them up or cool them down a tiny bit? I find if my flash is too strong it usually is colder looking than the outdoor light. I have the 430ex and used it off camera with a PC sync cable.


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phamster
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May 10, 2009 22:27 |  #2

cute !! they look happy..


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brennasg
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May 10, 2009 22:36 |  #3

That's exactly what I was thinking Pham!! Happy, thats great:)


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LightingMan
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May 11, 2009 21:38 |  #4

Dear briancmo
I was looking through dozens of images to select a critique that would benefit more than just the maker. I liked yours very much and felt that there was much good to comment on and some things to point out that might have been done a little differently. I hope you will take this in the constructive spirit in which it is offered. As always let me state that my critique is based on the premise that this portrait was intended to be a professional quality image.

First let’s take note of the time of day that you were on location. Clearly the sun is out as we can see hot spots throughout the trees and on the grass. While it is totally possible to create very nice portraits under these conditions, I have always recommended to my students to work toward being there at the optimum time of day just after the sun drops below the horizon when we have our perfect window of beautiful directional light without hard shadows and hot spots everywhere. Under these conditions, we have only a minimal requirement for equipment. A camera on a tripod and a hand held meter.

I realize that being there at the correct time is not always possible but if you approach your clients in the right way, they will in most cases, appreciate your desire to give them the highest quality image possible and go with your recommended times. In 21 years of running my studio, the only sitting I ever did at the wrong time of the day was the mayor and we know that his time is very limited. It was for a magazine article and I had to bend to his busy schedule.

Ok, let’s talk first about the couple portrait. Clearly you have good rapport with your customers. They look happy, relaxed and seem glad to be with you. This is more important than most people know. It’s a huge part of the process for the clients to feel comfortable with the photographer. You did extremely well in capturing them in a happy frame of mind. I am also going to do a visual commentary on the first image so you can see the various items I am calling to your attention.

For full length portraits, your camera height should be roughly a third down from the top of their heads. About chest high. Your camera position is slightly above their heads giving a perspective of looking down on them. This can make the upper bodies look larger and the legs look smaller and also shorter much the same as when we look up at a skyscraper but with the reverse effect. Try to keep the camera about chest high for full length portraits and you will see more normal looking bodies and you will also see less of the ground.

While the lighting on their faces is not precisely portrait lighting, it is very acceptable and easily complimented by their lovely expressions. I do not care for flash fill outdoors because most of the time it looks very obvious. Yours was so subtle as to not be noticed. Tipping my hat to you for a very good job without overding it.

Note how bright the gentleman’s head is on top indicating a large amount of light from directly overhead. Also note the direct sunlight on his shoulders. Not a horrible thing but it would be better if it were not there.

Other things that I would change would include not having his hand growing out of her shoulder and not having her place her arm up in the tree. While not a cardinal sin, it is more of a pose that a man might do than an older lady.

If you notice their feet, his are in a good position with his weight on his right foot which is at an angle to the camera while the other foot points in the direction of the camera. Her feet on the other hand indicate that she is standing flat footed. This feels a bit awkward. Had you turned her toward him rather than away and posed her feet in the reverse order as his with her weight on her left foot, you would see a pose that would feel much more comfortable and natural. In full length portraits, we have a work leg and a show leg. More times than not, the back leg is the work leg and carries most of the weight where the front leg is the show leg where in the case of a woman we would break the knee in toward the other leg to create curvature in the show leg.

Small observations would include trying to always show his white shirt cuff when photographing a man in a suit. Simply go to him and pull the cuff down so it can be seen (assuming he is wearing a long sleeve shirt as he should with a suit). It looks much nicer to see the cuff.

Imagine if she were facing in his direction. You could then easily hide his right hand behind her and hide her left hand behind him. In professional portraiture, a good rule is to try and show the fewest number of hands and legs possible. Showing one hand from each person in this portrait would simplify it and also help them look closer and more loving.

Also, keep a watch out for collar’s creeping away from the neck as it does here. I know it’s just one more thing to think about but all those little things add up to a larger benefit of a superior image.

Another small issue would be to select a tree without the white bark if at all possible. The lighter color can be a little dominant. Again, not the end of the world. Just a suggestion. Also, be careful about the tree trunk growing out of the lady’s head in the second image.

Lastly, please note her arm in the second image resting on the tree. The hand is considerably brighter than her face and also note the patch of direct sun striking her head. More important is the fact that her arm looks very short and distorted because of it’s angle, coming toward the lens. Any limbs or fingers should never face or point toward the camera to avoid this kind of distortion.

I know that they enjoyed these portraits very much. I compliment you on an excellent effort and especially on capturing such great expressions. I hope you find my suggestions helpful and constructive. Feel free to write to me anytime I might be able to help.
Best wishes,


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L.Morey
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May 11, 2009 21:47 |  #5

Damn


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rjc1
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May 11, 2009 23:12 |  #6

LightingMan, thanks for the remarks on the photo, It is what I look for when I browse this forum. It is clear and concise and really helps out the rank amatures who are trying to learn portrature.


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SPORTshot
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May 12, 2009 00:00 |  #7

Wow LightingMan, now that's what I call critique.......I would like to say thank you for taking the time to do all of that. I learned a lot from that !


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Grimlock
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May 12, 2009 00:34 |  #8

Very nice critique Scott. Many of those items I would of completely overlooked.
I also learned a lot from your C&C. Thanks.


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Jmark11207
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May 12, 2009 06:42 |  #9

LightingMan

That whole write up was amazing
Thats the kind of critique amateurs like myself crave

I learned a lot from that
Thanks


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Zivnuska
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May 12, 2009 07:44 |  #10

L.Morey wrote in post #7903147 (external link)
Damn

+1.

Very Helpful.


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snyderman
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May 12, 2009 08:04 |  #11

briancmo - I liked your perfectly 'understated' use of flash. Nice job.

Lightinman - thanks for the portrait tutorial. Printed for review when needed.

Thanks to both of you.

dave


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StanNJ1
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May 12, 2009 09:06 |  #12

Welcome back Scott. As always, thanks for the critique


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briancmo
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May 12, 2009 09:37 |  #13

Lightman,

Thanks so much for this critique. Yes, I am trying to shoot as professional looking portraits as possible. I've been shooting around 2 years now, and have some good gear and a decent eye, but I'm at a point where, unless someone like you does a critique like this for me, I'm not sure how to bring my images to the next level. I will absolutely keep these things in mind next time I go shooting.

This was a quick shoot I did with my father and grandmother for her 87th birthday. Unfortunately, I only had 7 minutes (no joke) to set up and shoot. In the future, I would have gone well in advance with a stand-in friend to test lights, angles etc. which would help work out some of the kinks in lighting.

Perhaps I can do a 2nd attempt this weekend and have your thoughts on my (hopefully) improved images.

Brian


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GenuineRolla
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May 12, 2009 09:41 |  #14

dang, talk about a critque


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rdavisdesign
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May 27, 2009 17:16 as a reply to  @ GenuineRolla's post |  #15

Lightman your critique was awesome. I really appreciate the time you took to use constructive criticism instead of the typical "I don't like" critiques.




  
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