First Set of Serious Portraits


TPF Noob!
Sep 21, 2011
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I was pretty excited about my new 85 so I took a few portraits.

All of them are with my D90, Nikon 85 f/1.8 D, and a yongnuo 560ii on a generic flash stand, shooting through an umbrella

I'd like some c+c, doesn't matter how harsh it is. I messed around in Lightroom a little, but didn't really know what I was doing....

Here they are

DSC_0029-2.jpg by CaseyrBrown, on Flickr

DSC_0023-2.jpg by CaseyrBrown, on Flickr

DSC_0036-2.jpg by CaseyrBrown, on Flickr

DSC_0054-2.jpg by CaseyrBrown, on Flickr
C&C per req:

1. Blown highlights on her hair. Increasing your flash output to just below ambient and then stopping down would have been the way to go here. Nice expression, but avoid the 'football' shoulders (square to the camera). It's rarely a good look, and never for a female.

2. Very nice, except again for the blown hair. You can recover some of that in post, but your flash was still too low. When it's very clear from which direction the ambient is coming, try and put your light on that side too, to avoid shadows that don't make sense. In this case, it's clear that the sun is hitting her right shoulder, but you've got your light camera right. Again, the football shoulders.

3. I think there could have been a nice shot here, but she looks like she's sitting there aiting for you to do something. The lighting is good here, but the twig growning out of her could be removed.

4. Lighting is nice, but the expression and background really kill this one for me. Again it appears as though she's simply waiting for something. Notice though how much nicer she looks just with the slight angle of her shoulders to the camera.

Overall, a pretty solid attempt for your first go. A few minor issues, easily sorted with a little practice. Keep shooting.

Just my $00.02 worth - your mileage may vary.

They are really good, #2 is by far the best in my opinion. #1 is also really good. #3 i would like to see more of what was on the right hand side and lose some of the left. #4 could have a good deal of the bottom cropped off.

Lighting technique and execution looks good to my eye but the model's eyes seem dead in some of them. Not really lost in thought or thinking of anything.... just staring off.
Thanks for all the input guys.

John - With the blown hair, should I have exposed for that part of the hair and then lit up her face more with the flash? Also, how should I recover the blown hair in post?

Webster - Thanks. I'll try to get her to be a little more interested in the portraits, she's a friend of mine so she wasn't as excited about it as I was
...John - With the blown hair, should I have exposed for that part of the hair and then lit up her face more with the flash? Also, how should I recover the blown hair in post?
Exactly; this is where a flash meter becomes very, very handy... meter the bright part of her hair, and then adjust your flash output until it's about 1/3 of a stop below that (if it's the same you won't see any highlight, and you really want to see that sun-highlight, especially on blonde hair it looks beautiful), and then fine tune by chimping as required, but it really shouldn't be. Lacking a flash meter, learn how to calculate exposure by Guide Number and then fine tune from there.

As far as the hair, if it's truly blown (NO detail) there's nothing you can do, but I think with careful use of selective enhancement tools, adjusting brightness and highlight sliders and maybe some dodging, you can reduce the strength of the appearance of the highlights.
I'll try to go back into Lightroom and mess around to try to fix the hair issues. I did want a little bit of that sun-highlight you're talking about, but I think I went a little too far with it. Thanks again
In addition to all of the wonderful advice so far, one quick and easy fix for the posing aspect - I would have her turn her hand slightly toward you so that her elbow doesn't have that "dislocated" look to it. I don't know why but that's always something that really distracts me, others may not even be bothered by it.

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