Picture lacks sharpness, critique requested

Discussion in 'People Photography' started by gossamer, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I have a D500 and was trying to take some profile pictures today with my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VRII. I was also using my new Flashpoint XPLOR 600 with a 38" octobox.

    I have lots of questions, but the main one is that the pictures were not sharp and I don't know why. This one was shot at ISO100, f/4.0 1/250th at 200mm. It was an overcast day, so there weren't really any shadows, except for perhaps just under the eyes.

    [​IMG]

    The original picture also looks slightly under exposed. It's always so difficult for me to tell the quality of the picture before looking at it on the computer, particularly when using an external light source because you then can't rely on the camera's meter.

    I don't know what other information I can provide. It seems the whole series of shots I took today were soft like this one. With a high enough shutter speed to avoid any kind of motion blur, I can't think of what the problem could be. Also, generally, do you think it's a good picture?

    This is the result of using "unsharp mask" to sharpen it a bit. I also adjusted the exposure, set WB to "auto" (since daylight wouldn't work because of the external strobe; forgot my grey card), and maybe made a few other minor photoshop adjustments.
    [​IMG]

    Here is the original NEF, in case you'd like to show me something on the original.
    Dropbox - _DSC8151.NEF

    Any suggestions gratefully accepted.


     
  2. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The lack of sharpness is due to missed focus and shallow DOF. You have the camera tilted up slightly which causes the focus plane to likewise tilt. Look at the point where the top of the yellow belt is near her right arm. You have good focus there. That's behind her face and if you add to that a slight tilt in the focus plane the focus miss is exacerbated. At f/4 DOF isn't enough to cover.

    Joe
     
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  3. ronlane

    ronlane What's next? Supporting Member

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    I'd say that is at the very least a half stop under and maybe a full stop. As @Ysarex mentioned f/4 will give a shallow DOF. Suggestion would be to go to f/8.0, ISO 400 or even 800 if necessary. How far away was your lighting and what power was it set on? With that light and a 38" Octobox, you shouldn't have any issues getting good exposure.
     
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  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Much of the EXIF has been stripped or didn't transfer for some reason. I tried to see where the focus was, but the indicators would not turn on. Just looking closely leads me to believe your focus was on her dress.

    Another thing; You can consult the histogram to evaluate the exposure. (after each shot) There are some questionable settings, such as; 1/250 second, at f/4. Was the flash at reduced power?
     
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  5. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    I don't recall exactly what the lighting power was for this picture, but probably something like 1/64+3 or perhaps 1/128+3. I tried to use my light meter to achieve f/4.0 at 1/250th, but it kept going to f/5.6. I need more practice with this to figure out why. Couldn't keep the client waiting any longer. The light was probably three to four feet away.

    I've only had the XPLOR 600 for a few weeks. I was also concerned with the octobox creating shadows on one side of her face because I only had one light, and it was off to one side. I don't have someone to help me with a reflector. I do have two of these XPLOR 600s (got an incredible deal), but haven't really experimented with two lights until I can figure out one a little better.

    I really wanted the f/4.0 because I needed the blurred background. I was using AF55 focus points, and I'm pretty sure I had set focus on her face. That's what I always do.

    Is there a way to achieve the blurred background while also keeping the subject in focus with a wide aperture?
     
  6. gossamer

    gossamer TPF Noob!

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    How can I export the EXIF information so I can show it to you?

    Okay, I exported the XMP file (less my serial number) and uploaded it here. Does this help?
    Dropbox - _DSC8151.xmp
     
  7. Braineack

    Braineack Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    turn off lens stabilization when using flash.
     
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  8. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Don't use AF55 point group for portraits.

    Change to AF-S and single point. Period. You want control over exactly where that focus point lands and you don't want the camera to have any say in changing it.
     
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  9. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Exactly! Which is why portrait photographers use a hand held meter that can measure incident light, reflected light, & flash in 1/10th EV increments.
    The in-the-camera meter can only measure reflected light and even then only in 1/3 EV increments at best.

    A bit of powder would greatly minimize the highlights under her eyes and on her left cheek.
    Her shoulders square to the camera is not nearly as flattering as having her stand with her shoulders at an angle to the long axis of your lens.
    Also have portrait subjects lean forward a bit at the waist so their chin is over, and not behind, where a belt buckle would be.
    One of the subject's feet should be closer to the camera with a majority of the subject's weight on the forward foot. It looks like she has most of her weight on the back (left) foot.
     
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  10. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The end result is okay; the 'as-shot' is sub-par at best. The technical aspects have been discussed in detail; the artistic ones IMO, need a great deal of work. Posing any subject (except for a football player) square to the camera, especially a female subject square to the camera is just about the least flattering pose you can use. Have the subject turn their body about 20-30 degrees off-axis, place their weight on their back foot (I use a 2" foam 'Yoga block' under the front foot to transfer the weight and keep them comfortable) and turn their head toward the camera. This will induce a slight natural curve to the body. As Keith (KmH) mentioned have them bend forward ever so slightly at the waist, and lower their chin just a bit (to avoid a double-chin look). In addition, your light seems a bit too low raised it up so that the bottom edge of the modifier is more or less even with the top of the subjects head and then aim it down at about a 30 degree angle. This will be a good starting point and you can fine tune as you go.
     
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  11. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes, you can use a DOF calculator to figure everything before you even turn your camera on. The prospect of using a wide aperture should be done judiciously so as to avoid such a shallow DOF that part of your subject is not in focus.

    We see that quite often on here. Somebody will maximize the aperture and get only the subject's closest eye and cheek in focus, while the remainder of the head is blurry. Get a chart or a mobile app to do the figuring. While you're at it, consider all factors, such as the distance to the background, which is part of the calculation.

    Since you'll be setting the aperture according to those calculations, you will need to adjust the flash to get a good exposure.
     
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  12. Dragster3

    Dragster3 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Why 200mm, you must have been super far away?
     

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