Another portrait... improvement?

joephotography

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Hey guys,

Here is a portrait I took of one of the bands I was covering, managed to get some time with them. I think this is a much better attempt, no studio lighting just cameras on board flash (Nikon D5100), shot with kit lens...

Slightly retouched but went with the whole less is more approach this time :)

Feel free to leave comments and appreciate all feedback to help me learn...

Cheers
Joe

$SATKT010_2.jpg
 

SCraig

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Look at it yourself. Compare it to a professional portrait and look at the differences. Take note of the fact that in yours there is no hint of shadow anywhere on the subject. Shadow adds depth and feeling but it has to be soft and subtle. The only shadow here is the harsh one behind the right shoulder on the wall. Your light is very harsh and direct, which is common from on-camera flashes, but it can be softened by using some layers of tissue paper over the flash or a pop-up flash diffuser made for that purpose. Still not nearly as good as a speedlight but much better than just a pip-up flash.

Next look at your background. Dirty, grubby door and carpeting. Old posters and stuff on the wall, everything in sharp focus. These are things you have control over as the photographer even if you can't always move the subject. Make use of that control. Walk around until you can find a better vantage point. Use your aperture to control the depth of field to blur a lot of the background out.

Keep learning.
 
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joephotography

joephotography

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Thanks craig, got the notepad at the ready. It was a staircase and my lens only went down to like f4-5.6 so was really trying to blur it but couldn't get it quite right lol due to space and time with him.

Like the idea with the tissue paper, never thought that will give that a try for sure..

Thanks for your time

Joe
 

cgipson1

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It looks a little soft, Face and hand are pretty bright and you have harsh shadows from the bare flash. His feet are cut off in a manner that suggests amputation. The background doesn't say band or music venue... more like warehouse. Not trying to be harsh.. just laying it out.

Try softening your flash.. bounce it, do something... bare flash is never good! Watch your backgrounds....

Any idea why it was soft? What focus mode were you in? Try Spot focus.. get the eyes! Much more accurate!
 
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joephotography

joephotography

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Hi and thanks,


so when u say soft do you mean bland? Totally get what u mean from cutting off feet, was worried it would take feel away having full body, but now u mention it, it does look weirder.


Definitely gonna try that tissue paper idea to soften it and make better shadows, when you say bounce it do u mean use reflector to highlight the hair?


it was shot in auto focus mode, is spot where the point of focus is in middle of viewfinder, I think need to look over my focus modes :) as I know to focus on eyes but wasn't sure if auto or another mode was better.


Thanks for your time
Joe :)
 

pic_chick

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Take a rubbing alcohol bottle and cut it to fit over your flash may have to rubber band it in place works great as a diffuser. also you can take a white card tape it at an angle and bounce you flash of the card onto a wall back to your subject. Pull your subject away from the wall it will make it easier to get the background out of focus.

Soft focus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[h=3][video=youtube;FWZcMz9TRXU]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWZcMz9TRXU"]How to do Model Portraits with an On-camera Bounced Flash?[/video][/h]

I am a hobbyist but if i had been there I would have tried to just use the stairs getting him to sit a few lower and agaent a side wall to avoid the door and all that stuff back there. welcome to the site by the way.
 
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elizabethysmom

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I agree bounce your flash - in this environment I would use a shallow DOF (lower Fstop number) to blur the yuck background - also if you take the shot from slightly above him with him looking up at you that might have made for a more interesting portrait.
 

ManualMode

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On-Camera flash is an abomination..
It's akin to peeing a bowl of cornflakes.. sure that would technically make it "A bowl of cereal".. but you'd be much better off without it.
 

Granddad

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Hi Joe and welcome. :)
C&C here can sometimes seem harsh but I've learned more here from having my photos ripped to pieces than in any photo courses I've taken.
 
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joephotography

joephotography

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Morning guys,

Thanks for all the great tips here, I think after reading all of them that i should brush up on my lighting slightly, like i said it's something I normally have no control over. I am loving all the tips to try on the flash to see the different effects :)

As for the DOF with the lens i could only get down to 4-5.6 as it was kit lens, my larger 55-200 lens also is only f4-5.6 so that was as kinda low as it would go lol, and with the space confinement couldn't get back any further, I could have probably moved him slightly forward from the background so will take this into consideration next time trying to get that effect.

@Granddad - lol it's harsh but like you said it's a great way to learn. I have only just started on portraits and feel like this forum along with good practice will do me good lol

Thanks again to everyone :)

Joe
 

Granddad

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Joe, I see you do a lot of band photography where you have no control of lighting. I understand that, I do a lot of live dance performance photos and only moved into portraits a year ago when an aunt left me enough to upgrade my equipment.
Have you considered taking the plunge to a F2.8 lens? I've found that they help for low light. Or if funds are tight consider a 50mm prime. Off camera flash is pretty much essential for indoor portraits but it doesn't have to be name brand expensive kit. I picked up a whole portable studio set up with three strobes for about £300 on Ebay.
 
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joephotography

joephotography

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I am pretty much set on the 2.8 tele lens and saving up for one at the moment, it's on my to buy list lol

As for the prime lens a lot of the bands i photograph are in big arenas so the 50mm would not stretch enough, but suppose could just use it for portraits. At present i have a Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6 which is great for stretching in the arenas if i'm in the pit but otherwise not the best lol so the 2.8 is definitely on my list.

I really want to start doing portraits so would you suggest the prime lens to use for this until the funds allow the telephoto? Do you have a name for that portable studio setup sounds great, was it just lighting or did it have softboxes etc...

Thanks for reply Granddad

Joe
 

Granddad

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I got the 2.8 24-70 (nearly as much as the camera body) and I picked up a used Nikon 80 - 200 f2.8 for about £500. The studio set up included 3 tripods, 2 soft boxes, 2 umbrellas, barn door, honeycomb, gels and a wireless trigger; all by Neweer. I got a black and a white backdrop with frame separately. The only complaint I have is that if you over tighten the strobes onto the stands by just a fraction the plastic tends to disintegrate. It's a pain but they still work even if they are a bit wobbly - Duct tape solves that. ;)
I'm slowly learning to use them. A small charge helps me add to my equipment fund as I learn by experience.
 
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joephotography

joephotography

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Ah the Nikon 80-200mm I was looking at that lens, would you recommend?

That's a really good deal that just had a look on Amazon, is it fairly easy to get to grips with?

I've yet to charge lol but really need to so i can get better equipment, i just shoot for press agency at the moment... If I can get better at portraits though hopefully can fulfil my dream to be more involved in music industry :)
 

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You have to face the fact that, in this situation, your equipment is not letting you do some important things.
Your first picture is not different than anyone with a dslr and a kit lens with the mode set on P would get.
You need to get past.
 

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