I would like to start doing portraits...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by eric-holmes, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would like to begin to get my feet wet in portraits. I have never really taken people pictures before. I just always take shot of nature or candid shots of people. I have never had them actually pose.

    I am just looking for a little bit of information on what I may need. I have a spare bedroom in my house that I plan to use for the site.

    Questions:

    What do you guys use for a backdrop?

    I know I need something like an off camera flash. I am looking at something like an SB-600. Would I want to get an umbrella to go with the flash?

    Just let me know a few things that you guys have learned. I currently have a Nikon D60 with a 18-55 f/3.5 and a 55-200 f/4.5.
     
  2. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    You better do your homework, first. There are about 50 different guidelines for every aspect of portraiture that are put together by pros who make money in the field. If you are not aware of them, your photos will be garbage.

    skieur
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    The Internet is just chock full of wonderful resources.

    Shooting potraiture is about using light to cast subtle, and not so subtle, shadows on the subject(s) face and body. To get those shadow effects requires a variety of equipment. The main goal of all the equipment is to modify the light so it works at the subject the way you want. Sometimes you have to adjust the pose to the light.

    Portraiture boils down to using artificial light and posing.

    Light:Science and Magic. An Introduction To Photographic Lighting, by Fil Hunter. Fully half the book is about lighting a single subject for portraiture.

    Minimalist Lighting. Professional Techniques for Location lighting, By Kirk Tuck

    Michael Grecco. Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait, by none other than....Michael Grecco


    Umbrella(s) they come in different sizes, small for head shots, big for full body shots, reflection and/or convertables you can also shoot through.
    • Light stand(s) (at least 8 feet) and umbrella brackets for each stand/speedlight you have. For portraits I never use fewer than 4.
    • For backdrops DIY works. I like seamless paper (107" x 12 yds).
    • Shooting space. The subject needs to be away from the backdrop 6 to 10 feet.
    • Good rock steady tripod. Heads for good tripods are sold separately.
    • Snoots, flags, scrims, reflectors, barn doors, grids, gobos...most can be made DIY. You can buy reflectors at Wal-Mart for under $5.
    For the minimalist approach THE online resource is www.strobist.com

    It's a really fun type of shooting. It appeals to both the technician and the artist in me.
     
  4. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for your post. Very informative
     
  5. CSR Studio

    CSR Studio TPF Noob!

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    Do your homework but know going in you are going to spend some money. You will need more than one light and backgrounds, especially seamless are not cheap. You might want to start with on location portraits with available light and reflectors first. That way you get used to working with people and working with light. Good luck!
     
  6. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well I'm not planning on doing this for money. I just want to try my hand out with some family members first. But thanks for the luck and the information.
     
  7. CSR Studio

    CSR Studio TPF Noob!

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    So, take them to the park or your backyard. Do you have an off camera flash? If you do you can use that. Also, get some foam core to use as reflectors. If you want to do some feminine portraits, put a female next to a window with some pretty drapes, preferably sheers and photograph her with available light, you may need a reflector again, use that foam core and you can have some nice portraits.

    You can even add aluminum foil to your foam core for a silver reflector. Makes a harsher light that you may need with the sun.
     
  8. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  9. CSR Studio

    CSR Studio TPF Noob!

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    The SB is a great flash. Until then do available light with the reflectors. You can do some beautiful portraits with available light.
     
  10. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ****, I don't know any of those except for one and I use an UWA lens for some of my portraits as well as a fish eye. All my photos must be garbage.

    And which pros put them together, I should have a talk with them about how these 50 guidelines don't mean anything.

    Ever see a person do portraiture with just natural light? It's not my thing, but those that are good at it have some amazing photos.

    Check out photogs like Zack Arias. He'll prove that statement wrong any and every day of the week. I mean, he does have a workshop and video titled "One Light" after all.
     
  11. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    I love the "rules" always cited regarding everything about photography. I've fallen into that trap too... in the past. The hardest lesson I learned about photography is that there really are no rules.

    I jumped in to portrait photography after spending a couple of weeks researching lights and triggers. I wound up with Alien Bee strobes and Cyber Sync triggers.

    I read exactly zero books on portrait photography. I opted instead to take my lights out into the world and start experimenting. Granted, I'm not an expert nor does my work rival that of the masters, but I've been at this less than a year (photography in general). I think I've come a long way since my first post here earlier this year which was made the first day I owned a DSLR. Click on my link in my signature line titled Model Mayhem if you want to see some of my model/portrait work.

    The most important thing you can do, IMHO, is research lights. Balance cost with functionality and buy the best system for you based upon that research. There are many options. I chose the Alien Bee path due to their countless happy and very dedicated customers and rave reviews about the company. I'm 100% happy with that purchase and will buy future AB products.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I was going to ad a link to Zack Arias and his one light stuff but forgot.
     

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