Portrait

Discussion in 'People Photography' started by FEP, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. FEP

    FEP TPF Noob!

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    How can one use a compact camera to take portraits like professional photoshots of models/singers/performers?

    For example: in a professional photoshot a small size, say 3R in vertical (portrait) orientation, could cover entire head and shoulders with minimal background (back and sides of head); but using a humble amateur camera (and photographer), attempting to take the same amount of head and shoulders would show 'extra' background and they are just different (can't really describe nor pinpoint how exactly). Is it due to technique of taking the protrait or due to the difference in camera abilities? If so, how best can the differences be minimized?

    Thanks.


     
  2. DanOstergren

    DanOstergren Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Most likely the lens attached to your compact camera has too wide of a field of view. Typically cameras like that come equipped with wide angle lenses, which aren't considered the best for headshots or portraits because you have to get so close to your subject, causing the wide view of the lens to really distort the person's features. If the lens zooms, I would zoom it out as far as it goes and then try taking the portrait that way. Typically portrait photographers use lenses that are 50mm or longer. My personal favorite focal lengths for portraits are 85mm and 100mm. When the focal length of the lens is long like that, it doesn't capture so much of the surroundings and allows easier focus on the main subject, without the distortion of a wide angle lens.
     
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  3. DanOstergren

    DanOstergren Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Also, to take "professional" quality portraits, it takes a lot of time and practice. You're likely not going to get professional quality photos until you know what you're doing.
     
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  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    This is a case where equipment does make a difference. A 'Point & Shoot' type consumer camera is meant to do an okay job at a wide range of things. A higher-end DSLR with a proper portrait lens is meant to one thing and do it very well. It's sort of like trying your hand at professional mechanics when all you have is a multi-tool. Head shots also rely heavily on lighting, and without it, and a knowledge of how to employ supplemental lights, you're very limited. You don't need a lot of equipment, but you do need some.
     
  5. FEP

    FEP TPF Noob!

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    For a defined target to be pictured, is there any difference in outcome (on captured picture) between zooming in and walking there (ie. unzoomed), assuming both appear more or less the same on the camera screen?
    Thanks.
     
  6. DanOstergren

    DanOstergren Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes, there is a difference. Walking up to someone and getting close to them with a wide angle setting on your lens will cause distortion. Zooming in will eliminate much of that distortion depending on how long the lens can zoom.
     
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  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    YES, there is a difference, and that difference can be very significant at times! if you get too physically close with too short of a lens length, everything close to the camera will be made LARGE, in relation to things that are more-distant. From say 1 foot with a 20mm wide-angle lens on a Full-Frame d-slr, the nose will be BIG, but the ears will appear too small.

    Generally, staying at _least_ seven feet away from a single person portrait subject is a good idea, a good starting point. Putting the camera at 10 to 15 feet with a telephoto lens setting will generally make a much,much nice rendering of a person than being, say, 3,4,or 5 feet away from them.
     
  8. FEP

    FEP TPF Noob!

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    Is there anyway for shooting portraits (or any shots) such that the focus is everything (as opposed to certain areas) within the frame?

    Eg. from Derrel's photo uploads (Dan's website won't open)
    5336_LMf5.3180.JPG by Derrel
    In that picture, the cat's head and forelegs are super clear (high resolution is the term?: where you can almost count the number of hair), but the cat's hind body is relatively blur (where it is impossible to count the number of hair). Is there anyway that the picture could have been taken such that the entire being of the cat's hair can be counted (as well as, the number of grass leaves)? From experience, by omitting the half-pressing the button step (meaning no focusing by the camera, therefore pressing the button all the way through in one continuous go) the focusing is omitted, but the resultant picture does not seem super clear throughout the picture.

    Thank you.
     
  9. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Absolutely; this is all about "depth of field" or the amount of the image that is in sharp focus. The primary control is the aperture. The smaller the aperture (larger 'f' number) the more of the image will be in focus. Lens focal length and camera-to-subject distance are also important. The shorter the focal length (the wider the viewing angle) and the farther the subject is from the camera, the greater the depth of field. Derrel has used a traditional portrait technique known as "selective focus" to ensure that only the area of critical interest (the face) is in sharp focus. This allows us to avoid being distracted by non-critical elements in the image.
     
  10. FEP

    FEP TPF Noob!

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    1. Referring back to the cat portrait, were Derrel to omit the selective focus technique, would the entire picture (cat and grass) would be sharp to the same degree of sharpness as currently shown at the cat's face? (The concern being that if everything was focused, the sharpness would be compromised.)

    2. Why do people often (perhaps always) take portraits with selective focus? For me, I would prefer everything in the picture to be sharp. Yes, the cat's face is probably the primary object of the picture, but would it not be equally ideal to see (and be able to count) the grass clearly too?

    Thanks.
     
  11. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    1. It's likely that the entire scene could be rendered in sharp focus, but that would require a small aperture (which means more light/higher ISO). Depth of field is a function of the physics of optics. How it's controlled is one of the basic skills of the photographer.

    2. Because that which is in focus attracts the eye; that which isn't the mind automatically ignores. In the case of a portrait, it's generally the face; we don't care about the grass, the cat's tail, etc. You want to know it's there, but it's not something you really care about. On the other hand, in the case of landscape work, photographers go to great lengths to have huge depth of field as the whole scene is important to the image.
     
  12. FEP

    FEP TPF Noob!

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    Shall I safely presume that, using the cat example, a picture focusing sharply on the entire cat, grass, and whatever else (ie. focusing the entire frame) such that one would be able to count the number of hair on the cat and number of grass leaves would be of a bigger file size than one focusing on the cat's face only? ... asketh the humble newbie.
     

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