Keeping it Simple: a "portrait"

e_

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...over recent days - in postings about "Learning to take Photos" and "How to take 'Star' Photos" - mrsid & i have highjacked the threads with discussions on learning the basics and keeping it simple

Not all will agree, but i believe the best design solutions are simple and direct. This carries over into my photography and achieving "the shot"

For beginners, the language of photography is arcane, often complicated, but the principals (despite their fancy jargon) are simple; don't be discouraged by the journalese

The situation is not helped by some writers, teachers and instruction manuals complicating matters unnecessarily (and i may well be at fault here, too, at times) with highly convoluted solutions to problems that may be resolved very simply

This thread provides an example from "professionals" (a straight forward "bread & butter" portrait for any commercial photographer) with directions that are downright scary!

To illustrate the point i've been trying to make with mrsid, i also offer a *simple* method which (imho) will deliver a better result than that shown ... and achievable with nothing more than a manual camera and flash

Here's their portrait:

fig22.jpg

...Copyright - webphotoschool.com/Ben Clay, Ross McCord & Gene Kester

Here's the directions from WEB PHOTO SCHOOL

http://www.webphotoschool.com/bhphotovideo/Lessons/AngelaOutside[BH]/index.html


Webphotoschool.com are to be commended for offering this free Site - but one needs a small sized truck just to carry their required equipment and, technically, the image is weak in my opinion with too much light on the face and unnatural lighting affects on the models hair

Here's my solution:

1. Equipment - camera, flash & hand held meter

2. Position model in front of a lemon tree (they make great backdrops to match that shown) with her back to the sun to create rim light affect on hair

3. Take ambient reading off the sun (dome behind models head, aimed at light source)

4. Using the sunny-16 rule and 100 ISO/ASA film, let's say the reading is f-16/125

5. Set aperture on camera to f11/125 - this will overexpose the rim light by +1 stop and create a halo affect as shown (but even better)

6. Set flash on "A" and select f-8 as a fill flash - this will provide a natural looking lighting ratio between the hair and face (use a diffuser dome over flash head, or even just a piece of tissue paper)

7. Compose shot - ensure there is no flare into lens from sun - then shoot

8. For different lighting affects, you might wish to bracket a few more shots

Done!

If you don't have a flash - simply use a large piece of white cardboard (in-lieu) to reflect light back onto the models face. Meter carefully to achieve the right ratio

Some photographers actually prefer reflectors to flash in this situation

The choice is yours

Have fun!

:)

e_

P.S. yep - far too much time of me hands!
 

photobug

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e_ , Great post!

Like most others here I'm astounded by how simple you make all this stuff sound.

Brava!

Jim
 
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MDowdey

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great work e_!!!! exactly what i needed, i have a job coming up to do some portraits!


md
 

Geronimo

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Thanks for the post. I hate taking portraits personally but your post helped me learn a few things.
 

Dew

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thanks for the info ... that portrait there, doesnt have my signature :lol:
 

voodoocat

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Great post e_


Now I suppose I will need a flash that I can set the power to achieve this. All I have is a vivitar that has green A and red. It has a table on the back to set the right aperature depending on distance to the subject.
 
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e_

e_

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...thank you, everyone, for the feedback and kind words

Much appreciated!



Voodoocat : you have just hijacked my "Keep it Simple" thread. LOL ;)

Quote..."Now I suppose I will need a flash that I can set the power to achieve this"

* The short answer is - "yes, you will"

* The long answer is - "no, you won't"

Confused (?) Well, hang about - it gets worse

There is a "theoretical" work around you may wish to try but it's counterintuitive and causes confusion, even for most of the pros'

Let's use the readings in our example, camera on f11/125 and a required flash setting of f-8 to provide fill light

For the example, let's say your flash only allows for an "A" setting of f-11 (the closest available option to our required target of f-8 )

The "theoretical" work around fools your flash into providing an output which underexposes that flash setting by one f-stop, effectively providing f-8

Here's how:

In the example, we are using 100 ISO/ASA film which has been dialled into both the camera and flash

To lower the flash output by one stop (f-11 down to f-8 ) we simply "increase" the ISO/ASA rating on the flash from 100 to 200, which is a difference of (less) 1 f-stop

Don't alter the ISO/ASA on camera!

To increase the flash output by one stop (let's say your flash only provides for f5.6 and we require f-8 ) we simply "decrease" the ISO/ASA rating on the flash from 100 to 50, which is a difference of (plus) 1 f-stop

You should note that this is a "theoretical" work around. You will need test it for yourself on your own system and your mileage may vary. Personally, and depending on the flash unit, i have had mixed results in the past

With regards the chart provided on your flash - that is a ready reference for use with the "M" setting. Most manufacturers overstate their system's capabilities in this regards ... and all flash units should be tested by the user to establish an accurate guide

Hope this is of some assistance

Cheers!

:)

e_
 

drlynn

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e_
Thanks for all the great info! It's nice to know that it's possible to achieve "pro" results without having to shell out for mountains of pro gear.
(Not that I wouldn't love to have the pro gear, but my wife seems to think that food, shelter and clothes for her and the kids is more important than my photography equipment !!!! :wink: )
 

ksmattfish

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voodoocat said:
Great post e_


Now I suppose I will need a flash that I can set the power to achieve this. All I have is a vivitar that has green A and red. It has a table on the back to set the right aperature depending on distance to the subject.

You can set the power on any flash by changing it's distance to the subject. This may mean you have to use the flash off camera.
 

ksmattfish

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drlynn said:
e_
Thanks for all the great info! It's nice to know that it's possible to achieve "pro" results without having to shell out for mountains of pro gear.
(Not that I wouldn't love to have the pro gear, but my wife seems to think that food, shelter and clothes for her and the kids is more important than my photography equipment !!!! :wink: )

Most of the "Masters of Photography" had to use stoneage gear that makes a Canon Rebel 2000 look like the space shuttle. Practice makes perfect.

And your wife is wrong; photo gear IS way more important than food, shelter and clothes.
 

drlynn

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ksmattfish said:
Most of the "Masters of Photography" had to use stoneage gear that makes a Canon Rebel 2000 look like the space shuttle. Practice makes perfect.

I know that's true. I am trying to practice framing and shooting every chance I get.

Sometimes I think the older equipment takes sharper, nicer looking pics. I really love manual equipment. Just bought a manual Canon on eBay. :heart:
 

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