First go at portraits - C&C appreciated!

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by fokker, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This was my first attempt at doing any real sort of portrait, since my girlfriend just had her hair done :lol:

    Originally I was wanting to do what I have ended up with in the first photo, with the subject lit by off camera strobes, and the background exposed over a 30 second exposure. I like the shot, but I prefer the second one, which was sort of by accident while setting up the lighting. I love the low-key effect going on here, but would love to hear some other non-biased opinions on lihgting and composition and anything else.

    #1 40D+ EF-S 17-55 @ 45mm. f/10 ISO 400 30 seconds. Main light 430EX w/ shoot through umbrella full power high camera right. Fill light 430EX bare strobe camera left 1/16 power.
    [​IMG]


    #2 40D+ EF-S 17-55 @ 45mm. f/10 ISO 400 1/4 second. Main light 430EX w/ shoot through umbrella full power high camera right, no fill light.
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for looking!
     
  2. tdz16

    tdz16 TPF Noob!

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    She's a pretty girl. To me SHE looks good in the shots.

    The first one however doesn't work for me. The car lights in the background are distracting and draw my eye first. I like the backdrop otherwise, but then you realize that since the hills are silhouetted, she kind of floats in the darkness. If you could go wider with the shot perhaps, then light some of the surrounding trees or bushes to give her a sense of being "grounded" then the silhouetted hills may still work as a backdrop. These are my thoughts, nothing written in stone.

    I like the 2nd one a lot. I'd just try to clean up some of the flyaway hairs in PP if possible.

    I can't stress this enough, I'm just glad to see people experimenting with OCF like this.

    ~Tom
     
  3. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I tend to agree with you on the first one. I couldn't really quite put my finger on it but it doesn't quite look right, although I still feel it is an interesting shot. But you are right about it not looking grounded. Unfortunately I couldn't crop any lower or light up the ground as she was only wearing her pyjama bottoms and insisted they couldn't be in the shot!
     
  4. tdz16

    tdz16 TPF Noob!

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    Lol @ the pajamas. You don't even know how many times I've looked at my fiance before heading out to a park for the day and said, "you're wearing that?" She does it on purpose now because she knows I won't shoot her if she's not wearing something photogenic.

    Keep on shooting....
    ~Tom
     
  5. altair005

    altair005 TPF Noob!

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    I like the silhouette effect of the second shot.
     
  6. altair005

    altair005 TPF Noob!

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    :lol:
     
  7. robyn_fresh

    robyn_fresh TPF Noob!

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    2nd one is nice, the first one has a distracting line in the background and looks as if she's got one arm.
     
  8. MohaimenK

    MohaimenK TPF Noob!

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    +1 with Robyn. I like the 2nd one for a portrait shot.
    1st one, not feeling the background but if she was standing infront of a different bg then it'd have looked a lot better. I feel that lighting goes with more of a daytime shot?
     
  9. vansnxtweek

    vansnxtweek TPF Noob!

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    The 2nd picture is great. The first one is cool too as you said..but it is distracting at the same time.

    Now I know I'm always asking questions in your threads..but hey..I'm here to learn! How do you get a portrait like that with such a long exposure? I would think she would be blurred a ton. I know I'm missing a big piece of information here which I hope you'll give me. lol.
     
  10. tdz16

    tdz16 TPF Noob!

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    The flash freezes the subjects motion.

    The longer the exposure, the more the ambient(already existing) light of the scene would be accented in the shot. A slower or faster shutter speed is usually used to properly expose and control a background...this is why you may have heard of people complaining about the sync speed of their camera. If you are shooting a subject against a very bright background, you need to use a very fast shutter speed to properly expose that background, yet most cameras are restricted to 1/250 or some 1/500 of a second. This is not enough to bring a bright background such as a setting sun into an acceptable exposure range (unless you have high speed sync) and use a flash to light a foreground subject.

    Guessing from the first shot, ambient light was probably at a minimum in this case, so 1/4 of a second still allowed for a black backdrop where an hour or two earlier in the day 1/4 of a second may have blown out the background in bright light. In the conditions as they appear to be, the same shot could have been taken at 1/60 or 1/200 and given a very similar shot in this case since shutter speed ONLY controls ambient light. If there is no ambient light, there's no ambient light, no matter how long you leave the shutter open its not going to "find" light. (I say this under the assumption that there's not even moonlight, streetlights, etc).

    When using a flash, aperture is one of the ways to control the exposure of your subject, as well as distance between flash and subject.

    I'm still relatively new to off-camera-flash so I welcome someone, including the OP to correct me if I'm wrong.

    Hope this helps.
    ~Tom
     
  11. fokker

    fokker No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Pretty much bang on there Tom. One thing I will add is that ambient light is controlled by the typical 3 exposure factors - aperture, shutter speed and ISO, whereas flash exposure is controlled only by aperture and ISO on the camera and flash power and distance to subject.

    As you rightly pointed out, there was very little ambient light so shutter speed in the second shot was largely irrelevant, I could have used anything from about 1/250th (maximum flash sync speed) to 5 seconds or so (before ambient light would start showing up).
     
  12. Morpheuss

    Morpheuss TPF Noob!

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    I think the car headlights in the first one makes it look like the mountains and the cars is a background shot in a studio but maybe its just me. I like the second one the best
     

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