How do you take better b&w portraits like these?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by extraordinabrian, Dec 20, 2005.

  1. extraordinabrian

    extraordinabrian TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm sorry if I sound like a moron, but I'm a newbie to photography, and I need someone with some knowledge. I've using my nikon digital camera to take b&w portraits/headshots and I've been a lot of trouble with lighting and such. If I use flash then the photos are all totally washed out but if I don't, the photos don't show enough detail and contrast...

    here is a photo I took without flash and natural lighting but I had to do a ridiculous amount of photoshopping to get more contrast and sharpness and it's still not what I want:

    [​IMG]

    I want something more like these pictures:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    (the photo on the right is courtesy of America's Next Top Model and on the left is from a modelling agency)

    can anyone give me any tips on how to take portraits more like this? or is it just because of all the professional equipment? If someone could lend their expertise, I'd be really grateful!
     
  2. Dave_D

    Dave_D TPF Noob!

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    Don't feel like a moron at all for these questions. Everyone has to start somewhere. The portrait of the girl is a lighting pattern that gives a shadow cast known as a modified loop. it can be done several different ways. The other portrait is hard to tell with the crop the way it is. The subject is underlit by means of a light or a reflector as there is no shadow under the nose. You can achieve similar results with your fash extended off of your camera with a remote cord or what have you and a reflector. My advice would be to get a book or take a class if you are very interested on the subject of studio portraiture. You never know where it could lead you down the road in photography.
     
  3. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    The eyes tell all.

    Or at least a lot. The highlights can tell you a lot about the lighting setup, using their size, shape, brightness, and location. You will be able to tell if they are above or below the subject, to the left or right, round or rectangular (like a softbox)... Generally the brightest one is going to be the main light.

    On the guy above, you can see that it's low and to the photogs right. There's another one about even with his head and further right, which is either further back or set for a lot lower output. There's another on the photogs left, just a touch higher than the main light and maybe a little closer or stronger than the dim light.

    This gives you an idea of what I'm doing. Using the center of the eye (not pupil, though often it's the same) to start, draw a line through each light in each eye. This will give you the direction the light is coming from, and the intersection will give you an idea of distance in that direction. When you look at the effect on the face, you can get an idea of distance front to back.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. binglemybongle

    binglemybongle TPF Noob!

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    While on the subject of lighting:

    Does anyone know of a site that gives detailed methods of basic lighting?

    Standard set-ups etc.
     
  5. photoboy15

    photoboy15 TPF Noob!

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    I was at the book store and saw the new issue of practical photography (ithing it was that one). It had some good portrait tips for beginners.
     
  6. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    hit your local library
     
  7. binglemybongle

    binglemybongle TPF Noob!

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    But it means moving. Ive never been a fan of exercise!

    I'll do it as a last ditch option if no one can suggest a site.

    And the site address better not be too long otherwise ill get out of breath and have to stop.
     
  8. duncanp

    duncanp TPF Noob!

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    yea.... i bought it, it shoes how to do many lighing set ups and bw portraits
     
  9. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    Not to pimp another forum, but the fred miranda site has a good section on lighting. That may be a site to check out

    http://www.fredmiranda.com/
     
  10. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    here you go then:

    ,|,,
     
  11. BadRotation

    BadRotation TPF Noob!

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    Personally, for lighting, I just use standard 500W halogen work lights when using B/W film...

    Here are a couple shots taken with cheap $15 work lights as the only light source. Please excuse the fringing, etc. the scanner I used at school caused some weir effects. My Nikon Coolscan here at home does a much better job.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     

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