Need some advice on shooting people

Discussion in 'People Photography' started by stone_family3, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. stone_family3

    stone_family3 TPF Noob!

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    So this is one of my weakest subjects and I can honestly say I have no idea where to start correcting the mistakes. Any help would be great. All of these are great family photos but I would like them to look a little more finished.

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  2. alliseeisyou

    alliseeisyou TPF Noob!

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    I know that I am new here so perhaps i have no room to comment but you wrote that your photos are NOT ok to edit and then you are asking for advice on how to correct them.

    In the top one - maybe edit out some of the house? It appears to be distracting. Was your child unwilling to sit more still?

    The middle - boost your saturation/hue up? Maybe a polarizer would have worked better with a scenic shot like that?

    The one at the bottom you could have changed your depth of focus - you can fix it in photoshop by adding a layer and blurring it.

    Like I said, I'm new to this forum and have only been SUPER active in photography for a year or so - so perhaps I'm not the best on advice but if one asks, I can try to help!
     
  3. stone_family3

    stone_family3 TPF Noob!

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    In the top one she was only about 9 months old I was lucky to get her to sit that long..lol.

    The others were just spur of the moment. I honestly can't get my kid to sit still to eat let alone a picture.

    I was wanted to know how to correct my technique in order to make them look better. I know the color and such can be fixed with photoshop. I honestly wish I could change leses or something with my camera but it's only a nikon L18.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  4. alliseeisyou

    alliseeisyou TPF Noob!

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    I have a 10 month old - it is definitely hard to get them to sit still. I tend to bribe with snacks or a new toy, enlist another child to help, and take a whole LOT of photos. I like maybe 1 out of 15 or 20 that I take. Sometimes even fewer.

    Its challenging at that age because nothing you say will make them cooperate!
     
  5. Dean Baron

    Dean Baron TPF Noob!

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    I think cropping the first pic to get the house out of the picture would really help. I think the second one might look good in black and white. Black and white tends to work out well a lot of the time with potrait photography.
     
  6. Anelle

    Anelle TPF Noob!

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    Okay, I'm not going to comment on how you can "fix" your current photos, as I am a great believer in getting it right in camera. Of course PS is a great tool and should be used, but it is there to enhance an already good/great photo.

    Anyway, I think that you were asking about techniques to take better photos, not how to fix these particular ones?

    1. Rule of thirds - get the person/eyes to correspond with the rule of thirds. It makes a HUGE difference.
    2. Shallow depth of field (DOF) in order for your subject to really stand out. I shoot around f1.8 to 2.2 most of the time when I take photos of people with a fixed focal (I usually use a 50mm 1.4 for children's portraiture.
    3. Shutter speed: nothing under 1/125 for me personally..... Even a bit faster if possible.
    4. Check your backgrounds.... make sure you don't have funny things running through/growing out of your subjects' heads (your photo #3 is a prime example of this - see how the wire is cutting her head in half?)
    5. Focus should be slap bam on the eyes. This is probably the hardest thing to get right when you start photographing people. Harder when you shoot wider open.
    If you can, choose your own focal point rather than letting the camera choose it for you. Focus in the corner (closest to the nose) of the eye. Not on the bridge of the nose.
    6. Watch for cropped limbs - in your last photo you have chopped off her hands at the wrists and it looks like it has been amputated. If you crop limbs do not crop them at the joints.
    7. Interaction is really, really important: either between the viewer and the subject (through the photographer) in other words eye contact with the camera or else some interaction with the environment. Only rarely does a far-off look out of the photo when no-body knows where the subject is looking, work.
    8. Shooting in open shade is best (not dappled) or learn to shoot in full sun so that there aren't distracting shadows on your subject. Overcast days are GREAT, but then you have to look out for flat lighting.

    Okay: Now, on applying these to your photos:

    #1: Cute! It would have had more "oomph" if you had a "prop" to explain the outfit. In other words if it is a Halloween costume, a pumpkin or something would have helped tell the story.... There is a reason why so many photographers use baskets etc. for babies this age: it is to keeps them contained LOL!
    Would look much better if you have shot it using the rule of 1/3rds, but that you can achieve by cropping in PS.
    I love the catchlights in her eyes! Nothing like GREAT catchlights! Love her looking at you. Her expression is a bit "blah" BUT if this is an expression that she often has and that is part of her, then capturing it is lovely.

    #2 Composition is better. Less dead space above her head would be good and I wish there were a little more space photo right. Even the greater DOF isn't that distracting as it tells something about where you were at and what you were doing (this would not have been the case, if it was supposed to be children's portraiture but for a family album, I think it tells something of the story). Can you see that her eyes are not sharp? In fact the whole photo looks a bit hazy. I think with a slight USM in PS it would look better.

    #3 The shadows on her face, neck, shoulders are bothering me, the line through her head is really distracting, for this photo you could clone it out. There is also no eye-contact, so she just looks like she actually wants to be somewhere else (wherever she is looking).

    You have a GORGEOUS subject and kudos to you for asking how to improve your photography! Once you start shootkng keeping a couple of the techniques in mind, you photos will really improve! Just don't forget to sometimes shoot your little one just for the fun and for record shots - not everything has to be perfect!

    HTH
    Anelle
     
  7. photo28

    photo28 TPF Noob!

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    1. Buy a gun
    2. Buy bullets
    3. Load and cock the gun
    4. aim the gun
    5. pull the trigger...BAM
    :lmao:

    Joking aside...
    Good cropping and lighting are big parts of shooting people. Rule of thirds also gives the photo a composition (my favorite part), especially with a good backround.
    I like #2 best personally- good use of the rule, sharp focus, nice backround, and nice subject and area. You seem to being doing well form those shots; the backrounds in 1&3 aren't my favorite... nothing really interesting, but #2 you nailed it
     
  8. ~Stella~

    ~Stella~ TPF Noob!

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    Anelle gave you some great comments. With little babies and children, you need to really focus on the eyes more than anything else - movement can be forgiven if a hand or whatever is a little soft, but the eyes are what makes the shot.

    Don't be afraid to get closer to your baby - both with the camera and by cropping. The best baby shots I've seen are typically close-ups or a series that includes close-ups.

    Learn to do stupid tricks. Put things on your head to get baby to look at you - or have someone else do it behind you. Baby playing in her natural habitat is nice, but you really want a few looking at you with those big gorgeous eyes. Failing this, use bribes. Those "fruit" treats are brilliant for this - or M&Ms.

    #1 Adorable. I would personally crop it significantly, just getting in head and torso and her hand. We know the rest is orange and it doesn't really add to the shot. I'd probably do a little work to brighten her face up, too, and maybe sharpen her eyes.

    #2 I'm with Anelle. It's cute, but nothing special. A little PS could improve it if you wanted to save it.

    #3 The lighting is really off - was this midday? Try early morning instead - you'll get bright indirect morning light and it's fantastic for outdoor portraits.

    Good luck!
     
  9. stone_family3

    stone_family3 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks everyone! Luckily my daughter has gotten more thrilled about her picture being taken as she has gotten older, most of her photos from birth to age 2 are with the "blah" expression if I could get her in frame at all...lol.

    On the third photo there was this thing at the zoo she loves to play on and I usually get great photos from it but it puts off this red reflection on everything. Would this work better in b&w?

    Here is what I'm talking about...
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