Lighting and photo criticism request

gossamer

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Hi,
I have an opportunity to take this picture over again on Saturday. What can I do differently to improve it? It's not really an environment for bringing my Forcepoint XPLOR 600s. I do have an SB700 and a YONGNUO YN560 flash I could use. I was thinking more light on her face would improve the picture?

This is the cherry blossoms here in northern NJ yesterday.

This picture was taken with my D500 using my 70-200mm at 175mm (262mm equiv) at 1/200 f/2.8 ISO100 pattern metering.

The first mistake I made was to shoot at f/2.8 - that's the real reason I want to go back to shoot it. I want to blur the background, but I could have also done that at f/4.

I also have a 24-70mm, which would enable me to get close enough to use the SB700 on the camera itself, but I think I like the 70-200mm lens better for these shots. I also have an 85mm prime.

This picture also reflects my slight photoshop adjustments, including adjusting the exposure a bit, as well as using Camera RAW to adjust the exposure additionally on only her eyes.

Ideas greatly appreciated. I'd also appreciate any comments on her position, pose, or what to do with her hands.

UHQM00X.jpg



fZ5iOS0.jpg
 
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Nevermore1

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I definitely don't know as much as others on here about lighting but my first thought was maybe use a reflector of some sort to reflect the natural light back up into her face from the ground.

ETA for the hands try to find something she can hold, that may help her relax her hands and arms a little. My daughter does the same if she knows someone is taking a picture of her.
 

JBPhotog

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Here are my suggestions, f4 is the minimum if you want eyes and facial detail;
- shoot at a higher shutter speed, notice both images suffer from subject and/or camera blur
- put the camera on a tripod and turn VR off
- place your focus point on the eyes
- any chance you can use OCF with a modifier?
- you might need HSS so get the modifier close to the subject
- shoot a non flash shot, note exposure and balance it
- shoot a flash exposure and only drop ambient no more than 1 stop, 1/2 is better for a n=more natural look

Posing is up to you but her hands clenched out of frame is not good. She is probably a bit nervous so ask her to relax a bit and take some deep breaths before you shoot, it should be fun right? Maybe pluck a blossom for her to hold and have her look at it, play with that a bit.
 
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gossamer

gossamer

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Here are my suggestions, f4 is the minimum if you want eyes and facial detail;
- shoot at a higher shutter speed, notice both images suffer from subject and/or camera blur
- put the camera on a tripod and turn VR off
- place your focus point on the eyes
- any chance you can use OCF with a modifier?
- you might need HSS so get the modifier close to the subject
- shoot a non flash shot, note exposure and balance it
- shoot a flash exposure and only drop ambient no more than 1 stop, 1/2 is better for a n=more natural look

Posing is up to you but her hands clenched out of frame is not good. She is probably a bit nervous so ask her to relax a bit and take some deep breaths before you shoot, it should be fun right? Maybe pluck a blossom for her to hold and have her look at it, play with that a bit.

Thanks so much for your help. A few follow-ups:

- I think I can do OCF by triggering my secondary flash on a stand with a lens modifier with the SB700 mounted on the camera. Is that sufficient? Where should it be positioned? I'm thinking directly in front of her, aiming at her face, to create the catch-eye?

- I believe I'm already set to do HSS.

- What focus mode should I use for my D500? Metering mode?
 

weepete

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I'm not really a portait photographer but I'd also say bump up the shutter speed. Maybe do a test shot at 1/320th and 1/500th, then zoom into 10x and check sharpness.

Personally I wouldn't bother with a tripod, but I would turn VR off.

I'd also stop the aperture down to at least f5. At 175mm and f5, you'll need to be 4m away from your subject to have a DOF that's 100mm deep.

I'd also try a reflector to lift the shadows on her face slightly, or some fill flash (I quite like to use a 1/4 cut CTO gel to add a little warmth to the flash)

I'd be a bit leery about having any on camera flash without bouncing it as it can lead to redeye just purely with the angle of the light. but maybe the guys with a bit more experience can correct me if I'm wrong.

As for the shot, the first is best, it's a more natural smile and has nice background blur, the dress has those tie-dye spots which compliments the background very well. The second shot has a couple of blooms creeping in at the top of the frame which I don't think adds anything. A little bit of refinement required, but there's some really nice elements in your shots.
 

smoke665

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Such a pretty young lady, I can understand why you want the photo to be the best.

There is a saying, "just because your lens goes to F/2.8 doesn't mean you have to use it", and "if you do you better be sure you nail the focus". To me, eyes are the ultimate focal point, and there's no substitute for absolute tack sharp focus on them. In the first shot you missed focus, the second is better, but as JB said above, stopping down will improve your chances by increasing the DOF. I'd go even further down to f/5.6 because I've rarely ran into instance where there was a need to hide baby soft skin with OOF. She is your subject, not the background, why wouldn't you want everything about her in focus including that lovely hair.

I was thinking more light on her face would improve the picture?

Since your Avatar list photo's okay to edit, I did a little looking at it. First thing I noticed is the white balance is off, based off the white in the dress. Since you have ACR/Photoshop and likely LR, then save yourself some hassle. Shoot a shot of a white balance target (preferable white/black/gray) before you start shooting her, then use that shot of the target and the eye dropper tool in ACR or LR to sample the white/black/or gray target to get your best WB. Here's a comparison
Untitled-1.jpg


This picture also reflects my slight photoshop adjustments, including adjusting the exposure a bit, as well as using Camera RAW to adjust the exposure additionally on only her eyes.

You had a good exposure with a full data file, not in need of a bump to exposure, the comparison has been dropped to bring the color back into the skin. Since it appears you might favor a matte effect there's a better method that I used here. With an adjustment curve pull the bottom left point up, then add a point midway on the line and pull it down slightly. It will give you a matte effect but lets you hold the midtones.

I'm thinking directly in front of her, aiming at her face, to create the catch-eye?

As to the eyes, only one thing makes them sparkle and give them life.....Light. You can either add it with supplemental flash, reflector, or post. A supplemental flash is the preferred method, but it needs to be off camera. Sit it on a stand "off camera axis and high", no modifier needed. For these type of shots, I use aperture priority and TTL, letting the camera and flash work it out, then using EV compensation to adjust as needed. If you go the reflector route it helps to have a VAH (voice activate holder).

If you have a tripod, use it, as it will make your life so much easier. Especially if you use a reflector and don't have the VAH mentioned above. For metering I'd go spot and meter the bridge of the nose (remember she is the subject), then use EV to adjust. For focus spot focus on the eye.

I'd also appreciate any comments on her position, pose, or what to do with her hands.

Seriously????.......................this kiddo has cuteness overload and killer smile, she can pose about anyway she wants and it's gonna be good. Have fun!!! Don't sweat the small stuff. I find with kids that it's best to let them have fun, encourage them to make silly faces every so often. You might find a real winning shot in those silly faces, and if not it sets the mood for fun. I will say to be careful with crops, you don't want to cut off fingers, toes, ears, etc.
 
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gossamer

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I took the pictures again this past weekend using the input from this post and my XPLOR 600s and they came out far better. These were mostly f/5 1/320th @170mm ISO 100. Feedback welcome. I think you can tell she's much more relaxed in these photos. That definitely helped.

The first one without her hands full in the frame is somewhat of a problem, but I'd probably crop it at her waist.

If you agree these are pretty darn good photos, what should I attempt to do next?

VnyHJ54.jpg


aogdqL8.jpg


ZIhOhVO.jpg


HeE5kZo.jpg
 

weepete

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Very nice! as far as I can tell your blur issue has been resolved and these have a much better colour to them too. You've retained a good background blur which is very nice. Good job!
 

smoke665

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what should I attempt to do next?

Print, frame and hang?????

It's a shame on the hands in the first, because she seems to be the most natural in it, but they're all good in different ways. Good job!
 

Lez325

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Maybe a plain BG would help I find BG's that are cluttered sometimes do not work well :)

Les
 

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smoke665

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Maybe a plain BG would help I find BG's that are cluttered sometimes do not work well :)

Les

Sometimes, but according to the OP I read that this was to be an environmental shot, the whole idea was to capture her "In front of the cherry blossoms".
 
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gossamer

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smoke665 said:
Sometimes, but according to the OP I read that this was to be an environmental shot, the whole idea was to capture her "In front of the cherry blossoms".
Yeah, that was it exactly. I try to print these on a 16x20 canvas and hang them in our living room. The cherry blossoms have become somewhat of a tradition for us for at least the last five years.
 

rambler

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What ever you did to get that smile in the photo just above weepete's comment was great. Getting the child to relax and give her natural smile is key. What a wonderful subject! Keep your camera clicking.
 

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