My first portrait shots = hours of work

Discussion in 'Critique Forum Archives' started by Replic, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. Replic

    Replic TPF Noob!

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    Very recently I took my first staged portrait shots for a photo class. I used a dark room and a 150 Watt bulb with my canon rebel 35mm and some B&W film. I developed the negatives myself, and then scanned the negatives on my school's Minolta DiMage Dual Scan III. It was there I realized that the storage method we're forced to use for our negatives (simply placing them in an envelope and than a manilla envelope for extra protection) did not protect my negatives too well- they were the victims of both excessive amounts of dust and scratches. I uploaded a fair number of pictures- 6 or 7 in all out of a shoot of 34 shots I believe. I've only had time (3 hours) to work on one of the scans. So here it is.

    The original:

    [​IMG]

    The 3 hour work of removing the bad spots:
    [​IMG]

    And the 2 minute retouch of dodging out the background:
    [​IMG]


    I have a few questions as well as a few points I wish for critiques to focus on. First - the scans came out with a significant amount of grain, and I was not able to figure out how to reduce grain on the scans. How can I rid the picture of the graininess in PS (I use GIMP, but I can probably do the same thing you do in PS). Second- it took me three hours to retouch that scanned film in order for it to look presentable, let alone good. Do I simply need to get better at this, or is there a quicker way than zooming in on trouble spots and using the clone tool?

    Areas that I especially need critiquing on (keep in mind it's my first portrait shooting):

    1. The original shot- composition, lighting, emotion on the model's face, etc. How can I improve in this area? Especially in lighting, as I'm still a complete newbie to controlled lighting in a photo shoot.

    2. The original to second shot- did I do a good job touching up the scratches and the dust?

    3. On the third shot, I quickly burnt out the background. Does it look effective, or am I simply not seeing a smudge mark or sloppy workmanship in it?

    4. Make up your own category and contribute- I want some serious criticism and/or praise for this photo, as I really hope to get some great shots in soon-to-be future shootings.
     
  2. Replic

    Replic TPF Noob!

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    As a side note, the high quality (over 2000 pixels wide and nearly 44 inches in length) version of picture 1 looks 10 bajillion times worse, with severe scratches on her upper lip, hair, and other parts of her face and right arm.
     
  3. JonMikal

    JonMikal TPF Noob!

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    http://www.neatimage.com/

    one of the best grain removing programs out. i use it occasionally and can attest to excellent results. free too! :wink:
     
  4. Nikon Fan

    Nikon Fan TPF Noob!

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    Sorry, but I really don't like this shot. The pose is okay, but the light on the left is really blown out, and then it is really dark on the right. It just doesn't seem to be a pleasing photo. Also the eyes of the subject seem to be almost shut, and typically the eyes for me personally are what draw me into a portrait. Seems like you care a great deal about fixing your photos, and you do a good job of repairing, just focus more on the intial taking and you will save some time!!! Keep it up!
     
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I would say that you are on the right track. The subject/model/freind is definitely photogenic. You have captured a pensive interesting moment. That is half the battle. The center of the lens seems to be in the right place.

    The light is a little rough. I like to say "high at 45". Meaning the light should be high to cast a long shadow and at a 45ยบ degree angle to light 3/4 of the subject. In this case you are lighting her butt and throwing light into the background that you wanted to keep dark. Personally I would have positioned it to highlight her face. The home set up of taking the lamp shade off of the lamp is effective, but you need bounce cards to open the shadows. Anything white will do; I go with foamcore found at the local office supply or craft store to work the best.

    It has been my experience that dusty negs are due to a lack of A: hardening of the fixer B: lack of wash time C: lack of Hypo clearing. Also consider where you are drying the film; a closet works better than a hallway.
     
  6. Replic

    Replic TPF Noob!

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    Anything else I can do for the next modeling photoshoot?
     
  7. Xmetal

    Xmetal TPF Noob!

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    Wear less clothes! :twisted:

    just kiddin ;)

    I quite like the models' pose, the third image is good but maybe if it was a touch lighter it would be perfect by my books. :)
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Portrait lighting can be a complicated matter. There is no right & wrong per say...but to get the effect you want, you have to understand lighting.

    You are already taking a class but it wouldn't hurt to pick up some books and/or do some reading on the internet. Look up Monte Zucker for "classic" portraiture.

    Your shot is very artsy, but the lighting is too harsh for my likes. Her clothes & that other fabric are too bright while she is not bright enough. Her shadowed side is OK, if that's what you were going for. Otherwise I would like to see some light on the other side of her, and maybe some light behind her head to separate her hair from the dark background.

    As for the dust, as far as I know...that's something you have to deal with when scanning. If you are only scanning for web viewing, maybe try scanning at lower resolution.
     
  9. Replic

    Replic TPF Noob!

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    The assignment specified only one light- so I can't use secondary lights to get the same angle and still light up her hair. But next time will be purely for my own art, so a secondary light would be great.

    The point of the whole project for class was to experiment with different light angles. I tried a number of angles and at this I believe it was a success- I learned a lot and know how to modify it for my next shoot.

    As of this post school is out for Winter break, meaning plenty of time to work on photography. I'm going to attempt to get rid of the washed out butt of hers (the light was accidentally too close) and lighten her face while darken her clothes. It will perhaps be the most labor intensive job I'll take on thus far. I'm looking forward to it.

    As for the neat image program that was recommended- it's a great program, and it delivers, but not nearly as much as I need. Perhaps there are settings that I need to learn how to properly utilize to get the results I want? Fill me in on this.

    Anymore tips on planned model shooting is much appreciated.

    Also, I have 5 or 6 other pictures (out of 34+ shots, I picked only 7 for consideration to be edited) to be edited. I was wondering how this one would be for editing. This is the original film scan, so it shall be quite damaged and dusty. But is the pose and base lighting good? The background is quite annoying, I know, but I plan on burning that out.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think the lighting is nice in this new one...especially on her face.

    However...the crop goes right through her hands and her neck is turned at a funny angle. Maybe those are not such big issues because this assignment seems to be about lighting.
     
  11. Replic

    Replic TPF Noob!

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    I've already aced the assignment by doing some prints in the darkroom at school- worry not about my grade anymore :D.

    As fro the shot- would the cropped hands and weird neck angle be that big of a deal? I purposely told her to turn her neck that way. The hands were simply accidental.
     
  12. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If it's not a big deal to you...then it's not a big deal. There are rules of course...and rules were made to be broken. This is, after all, art...which is subjective. Do you what you think is good and let that be your style.

    Personally, I like views & poses that flatter the model and don't look awkward to me. Not that I don't like your photo...it just stands out to me that her neck looks to be at a funny angle.

    Keep up the good work.
     

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