Improve people shots


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Sep 5, 2015
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OK, this from my new 85mm 1.8G. I used a D3300 and SB600 speedlight.

1st two, I can see a shadow behind subject and it irritates me. So how can I eliminate this? I tried to bounce but did not help.

The other issue is the pupils are dilated, anything to do there? I can't re-shoot. What am I doing wrong? I used the flash because it was blinking too in evf.

#1: F/4, ISO800, 1/60s, I think I used portrait scene mode. Shadow, eye dilated.

#2: F/4, ISO800, 1/60s, I think I used portrait scene mode. Shadow, eye dilated.

#3: F/4, ISO800, 1/60s, I think I used portrait scene mode. Eye dilated.

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The hard shadows are on account of the small light source relative to the subject matter. The only way to eliminate them is to use a larger light source, either by placing the flash inside a softbox/umbrella or bouncing off a wall or ceiling. Where did you fire the light? Into the stairwell? Was the ceiling quite low? If the light wasn't able to spread across the ceiling or wall, then it will still be small relative to the subject matter and hence produce hard shadows.

As for the dilated pupils, it's due to the lowlight conditions. Brighter ambient light would cause the iris to reduce in size.
Eyes will be always dilated if you shot in low light conditions. You can use a flashlight on his eyes (not the best solution obviously but sometimes it works). Instead, some flashes has a "red eyes" option where the flash go off not for metering the exposure but to contract the pupil.

Shadows will be always present if your light source is a bounce flash and the subject is just too close to the wall.
^^What they said^^ Also, don't get trapped into thinking that the ceiling is the only place to bounce. What I like to do whenever possible is bounce off of the corner between ceiling and wall, bringing the light in from the side. Another option would be to shoot manual flash straight on and just clone out the catchlights in post. Lastly, look for darker backgrounds; 99.3432% of the reason you're seeing such strong shadows is because your backgrounds are very light. This is way almost all of my backgrounds are greys and blues. That whole issue just magically goes away! :D
Large, dark, colorless eyeballs are a hallmark of much work that has been shot with a speedlight. It's something that makes it pretty easy to differentiate between portraits and headshots that were made with speedlights, and those that were made with powerful modeling lamps or bright continuous lighting shining on the subject's face.

If you're shooting direct, non-bounced flash, eliminating the shadows can be furthered by using a fairly tall flash bracket, so that the shadow of the head and ears goes down, and off to the side of the person. With a telephoto lens, this works quite well, since the angle of view **behind** the subject is narrow with a telephoto lens, but it's fairly wide behind the subject with short focal length lenses.
You can use a Flash Bracket on your P7100 too
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I like the Justrite Camera Bracket. I use the rotator in studio. Not cheap but a really handy bit of kit.

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