Desperately in need of help here... PIC's included, C & C welcome <-- NEED HELP!!!!!!

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by paulpippin29, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. paulpippin29

    paulpippin29 TPF Noob!

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    Ok folks, I'm six days in to the new XSI, and am loving it. I't's pulling off quality beyond my imagination, but ran into some real problems tonight while at work.

    I have ONE girl who's always willing to do a shoot, regardless of her looks at the time, as she just loves taking photo's, which I love in turn. I had the new XSI in house with me, fully charged up battery, ready to roll, which I did.

    Now, my last "portrait" style photo's that I uploaded here recieved one main critique over all, which was that my background was NOT blured enough, almost as if I'de focused on the background way more than my actual subject.

    Well, keeping all of that in mind, I went into this photo "shoot" with a "portrait" heart, wishing to blur the background in full, while keeping my subject in a nice, sharp, focused view.

    So, I ended up taking almost 200 photo's of the same model, in various locations, poses, and with different facial expressions. All of the photo's had good intent, and would have been great overall, but only 40 made the cut. Why? Well, I'll tell you...

    I was attemtping to follow the "rule of 3rd's" the entire time, though I don't fully understand it, I at least knew NOT to center my model, which I never did. I had the XSI set in Manual mode, using the "Portrait" picture style, and used a nice mix of the both the viewfinder and LiveView. When in "LiveView", I had the "grid" overlay applied, which gives me the 9 dimensions, and I never once centered her.

    Now, the interesting thing is this...

    As I only have the 18-55mm kit lense, I'm limited, this... I know, however, I had the aperture as wide as it would go, which is 3.5, and what ended up happening was this...

    The model would actually be blurred out, and the background would be focused, or at least, partially.

    What I mean is this...

    I would put my model on the right for example, but aim my camera to the left, in a valid attempt to NOT focus her in the center. Well, the background to the left of her, in every photo, was nice, sharp, defined, and very clear, but she on the other hand, was NOT.

    How do I fix this??? I know that I could close my aperture, and go up to f.8 or higher, but that to me, defeats the purpose. Sure, everything would be in focus, but, the background would not be blurred, which is the effect I'm wishing for.

    Now, I will say this...

    Most of the blurred images, and I do mean the worst one's out of the 200 photo batch, were taken while using LiveView. Should I leave LiveView alone? If so, what is the best way to frame an image, particularly of portrait style, through the viewfinder?

    Again, XSI was in Manuel mode the entire time, ISO was set at 200, shutter speed varied, but was always descently fast, and the aperture was set as low as possible, which was 3.5, though sometimes, it raised due to zooming.

    Is it a focusing issue? Sounds and feels like it, but hell, I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't. If I focus on her directly, it's wrong, then when I don't focus on her directly, it's still wrong :) How do I get the perfectly blurred background, but without blurring the subject as well?

    And yes, I've read the many "portrait" tutorial's online, but they all tend to the whole "local photography" style. Senior portraits, families, etc.... That is NOT what I'm after here.

    Below will show you what I'm after, though notice the LACK of blur in the background...


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    These are 7 of the "best" images, I think anyway, that came out of the 200 that I took. Do you folks see where I"m trying to go here? Surely you do. Maybe they're good as is, or maybe they're horrible, which is more likely :(

    Either way it goes, I could really use some help here. I had to throw away ton's of shots because SHE was NOT in focus, but the bacground was. I keep the camera set to auto focus, should I switch to manual?

    Also, one other thing... what about flash usage? Alot of the photo's I took could have really used a light boost, as her eyes would be darkened, etc... I know I could have used flash, but I cannot stand the color it applies to human skin under these conditions. What's an alternative, or is there one at all?

    Also... last thing, these images were edited slightly, applying basic filters such as green and red color layers, at small percentages, and the occasional sharpening, that's it.

    Hope to get some feedback from this post, and look forward to all the help it might generate.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    I think what your doing here is actually focussing on the background, you need to focus on the subject, (eyes usually) and lock this focus by depressing the shutter 1/2 way down, then recompose the shot while keeping the button held 1/2 way, then fire all the way. H
     
  3. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You focus on her (having her in the very centre of the "focusing stage pic" when it is centre point focus you use, which I take as best, anyway), leave the button half-pushed, and quickly recompose to how you really want the photo to be, and then take it.

    For if you first compose the "end product", the autofocus (which is in the very centre of the frame) will only see the background, but not the subject/model. So have a "focussing image" first, and then, quickly, the end composition. Do I express myself?

    Another though I'm having upon viewing your photos is: she needs to be far enough away from the background, too, in order to get it blurred.

    You have a very FOREGROUND-blurred pic in the one where she looks through the banister of the staircase (I quite like those two!), but then she's leaning against the wall, which will of course, when focus is right, also be sharp, along with her face.

    But all in all, in this case it also seems like the background (which was meant to be blurred) was too close to her.
     
  4. NestorV

    NestorV TPF Noob!

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    Hello mate. It seems that you have focused on the wrong part of your frame, and that is the background.. Do as fellow members told, get the camera to focus on your subject, and then reposition your camera as to get the composition you want.
    the 3.5f refers to the 55mm aperture? you can always go on the photoshop and add a bit of blur there..
    Since I am at home with a cold, I can spend some time in one of your pics and work out the blur of the background if you like.
     
  5. Eldrich

    Eldrich TPF Noob!

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    I'm not sure if the XSI has it, but the autofocus may be in either 'continuous auto focus', or 'one shot focus' modes. If it is continuous auto focus, the trick mentioned above, to focus on the subject then recompose the shot, will not work, as the camera will automatically refocus to the background once the shot is recomposed. In one shot focus, once you press the shutter half way, the focus will be set so you can do what was mentioned above.

    Or you can always go to manual focus if you are having trouble...I find manual focus easier, and more robust than trying to 'trick' the auto focus sometimes.
     
  6. Samanax

    Samanax TPF Noob!

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    Are you selecting the focus point or is the camera deciding what to focus on? With my XTi, I choose which focus point to use, not the camera. Most of the time I use the center one but, depending on the composition, I will use one of the other 8 focus points when necessary. Check the user's manual to see how you manually select focus points. On my XTi it's the button on the upper right back of the camera body (there is a white rectangular box with smaller white blocks inside above it and a blue magnifying glass icon with a + inside below it). After you press it you use the arrow buttons on the back of the camera to change the focus point you want to use.

    To get the background to blur there are other things to consider besides the aperture size you're using. Zoom the lens all the way out and make sure the subject is not right up against the background. There has to be some space between your subject and the background...the further away the subject is from the background the better the blur will be. You also want to get up close to the subject even though you have the lens zoomed all the way out. The focal length of the lens plays a part in the blur effect.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  7. alarionov

    alarionov TPF Noob!

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    Try the manual focus. I found I really like the manual focus as a newbie.
     
  8. paulpippin29

    paulpippin29 TPF Noob!

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    Wow, ok, some great pointers issued here, thanks to all of you :)

    Firstly, on the focusing issue...

    The camera was set to use "AI Focus", which according to the manual, determines the best AF for every situation, switching between AI SERVO and ONE SHOT. This trick of recomposing after pressing the shutter halfway is something I was completely unaware of, and certainly did not do, but I shall next time indeed.

    Secondly, alot of the bad shots were taken with the the lens zoomed in on her quite a bit. Next time, I'll go no zoom, and actually get much closer to her instead, as suggested.

    Third, never thought about the issue of getting her away from the background at all. I do like the shots of her leaned against walls and railings, but I'll try the above techniques for those shots, along with trying to get away from the background more.

    Live and learn, and I'm definately learning here at TPF. Thanks for all the wonderful advice, and if there's more, please, by all means, provide :)
     
  9. EhJsNe

    EhJsNe TPF Noob!

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    My uncle always uses the manual mode when doing portraits, great thing about being at a studio is that if you arent on very much of a time frame...if you miss a couple nice shots trying to focus (mainly on kids who never stay still) you can have them try again and go over 10 or 15 minutes.
    Manual focus is kinda annoying at first but once you get used to it and in the "mode" you can get it focused so every shot is reletively focused and just tweak it from there.
     
  10. OldClicker

    OldClicker TPF Noob!

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    For what you are trying to do, use 'One Shot' focus. Set the focus point to the center point. Compose the picture. Move the center dot to her closest eye and depress the shutter button half way. Be sure that the center dot flashes over her eye indicating that it is the one focusing. Recompose the picture. Fire.

    Don't get too close. With the wide angle, the lens will start to distort the closer things giving her a big nose. Try setting the lens at about 35mm and get as close as necessary to get what you want in the frame.

    If you want to blur the background, you will have to get her a long ways from it. But, to me, blur is not necessary for this type of shot. This is not a 'formal portrait'.

    TF
     
  11. paulpippin29

    paulpippin29 TPF Noob!

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    OldClicker, you nailed it precisely by saying that this is NOT a formal portrait style of shooting, which is exactly what I'm NOT trying to do :) I shall take your advice into great consideration and practice, as I should be shooting her once again on Friday, if we're not to busy.

    Thanks again to all of you, really, you have no idea how much you all inspire me to keep going with this, and actually do something with it. I don't believed I"ve loved or enjoyed anything as much as I'm enjoying photography, ever, and this forum, and it's users, including all of you, are just top notch.

    Thanks again :)
     
  12. DRoberts

    DRoberts TPF Noob!

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    First of all the "rules" are not die hard. Don't concentrate so much on following what others say you must do. A good shot is a good shot whether the model is perfectly centered or not, whether the background is blurred or not, etc.etc.
    As mentioned above, when doing portraits use manual focus, your subject is still and you have time to focus in how you want. Learn the basics of getting a good sharp photo, then move to composition matters.
     

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