portrait help please

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by tonyadgarcia, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. tonyadgarcia

    tonyadgarcia TPF Noob!

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    could someone be so kind to tell me in detail the best way to pull off a great portrait. from the camera settings to the lighting to the posing of the subject. i have got to figure out what im doing wrong. is an external flash important when you have studio lighting?
     
  2. CraniumDesigns

    CraniumDesigns TPF Noob!

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    im a newb, but a wide aperture helps. something 5.6 or below, to get that blurry background. 50mm is often the most common setting for portraits too.
     
  3. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Longest focal length you have + widest aperature it can go + warm color + soft light (eg. shade). + focusing on the eyes = generally winning results.

    Your mileage will vary.
     
  4. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The difference between a great portrait and a portrait is that a great portrait says something about the subject which is evident to a viewer who has never met him/her. A great portrait has been defined as 'more than a likeness.'

    You did say 'great', no?
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I could write a book about this... but you will have to settle for 37 tips on portraiture from me. Look HERE for the hints.
     
  6. EhJsNe

    EhJsNe TPF Noob!

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    A telephoto lens will result in the most flattering results. Not sure if the longer you go the more flattering, but it cant hurt!
    Use a wide aperture, no more than 2.8 tho, you dont want parts of the face out of focus...and focus on the eyes. Thats the most important thing. The main focus must be on the eyes.

    Soft light is also a must. Harsh shadows and hot spots are not good for portraits.
     
  7. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you can find a telephoto at less than F/2.8... get ready to need a motorcycle to use it as a tripod... lol.

    What others call "most flattering results" is technically a compression and loss of distortion. When using lenses in the 10-50mm range, you get facial distortions. I call them "chipmunk cheek". This distortion is minimized by around 70mm and impossible to detect at between 150-200mm. Above 200mm for portraits, there is a tiny and diminishing return of advantage.

    Problem is... a good 70-200 mm F/2.8 is at least a thousand dollar investment (if not more). Softlight is not just a portrait issue, but a photography issue period. Early morning, late afternoon or in the shade of a building or trees (if you are shooting outside), is always a good idea.

    In those times, I prefer shooting indoors and having precise control of my lighting. One can, of course, shoot any time of day anywhere, but to get decent results, be ready to have at least a thousand watt/seconds of light (or more), in your control and tiny apertures. TO over-power the sun, most professionals agree that you will need something closer to 2000 W/s to beat a mid-day sun of a bright day.

    That kind of power will cost you significant $$.
     
  8. BDT

    BDT TPF Noob!

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    Personally I use a 85mm fixed focal lens for portraits and shoot where possible at f2.8

    Having said that I also use a 50mm 1.4 nikkor as well as a 105mm 2.8 Sigma lens.

    Apart from the 85mm the other lenses here in the UK are reasonably cheap and probably a lot cheaper in the U.S.A.

    As for lighting even bounced flash will suffice and even better if you have two or three flash guns available to control what light goes where.
     
  9. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    You don't need a motorcycle to hold the Canon 135mm f/2 L or the 200mm f/2 L theres two telephotos faster than 2.8....
     
  10. Kenh

    Kenh TPF Noob!

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    If you have a garage, try this.......

    Open the garage door when the sun is not shining directly into the door. Set your subject just inside the garage. If the sun is straight up don't let any direct light fall on your subject. If you have an asphalt driveway, lay a white sheet down just outside the door. If it is breezy you will have to put some kind of weight on the corners of the sheet.

    Set your camera up outside the garage on a tripod. I don't know what you have for lenses but you want to get an effective focal length of around 70mm or longer. I believe your camera has an APS size sensor so a 50mm lens will work. (50 x 1.5 or 1.6) You can frame your image with some extra space around your subject and crop it in post production if you are using a 50mm. This will allow you to back away from your subject a little.

    Since you are using daylight, which on most days is constantly changing, I set my exposure in this manner: Put your camera in Aperture Priority mode. "AV" on my camera. Set your Aperture to the widest setting. This would be the smallest number, "2.8" or "4.5" or "5.6". Take a test picture of your subject and look at your histogram. (If your subject is not wearing anything with some white on it then give them something white to hold onto for this set up) You want your graph to be as close to the right hand edge as you can get it without touching the side. If there is a lot of empty space on the right hand side of the histogram then you want to increase your exposure using "Exposure Compensation" (if you don't know how to do this you will have to check your manual) until you close the gap without touching the right hand side. Conversely, if all the information in the histogram is bunched up against the right you will want to decrease your exposure by using your "Exposure Compensation". Doing this will allow you to get a good constant exposure even though the sun light intensity may be changing drastically while clouds move in front of the sun. This sounds like a lot, but it really goes pretty quick. I usually check the shutter speeds I am getting to make sure they are not too slow. Your camera has an image stabilization feature built in so this should not be a problem for you. If it is, just increase the ISO.

    Now with your subject in place, strike up a conversation and start shooting. Get another person talking to your subject and observe his or her expressions and shoot. Talk about anything other then the fact that they are getting a picture made. Don't just take a couple of shots. Shoot, shoot and then shoot some more. It goes pretty fast and if the conversation gets pretty lively, everyone will forget your snapping away!

    I hope this helps..............Also, you don't have to have a Garage. You can use a porch with an overhang or go to the park and shoot under a pavilion!
     
  11. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The 300mm f/2.8 is not much longer either, but the front end is a whole lot thicker.
     

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