Mama and kid

Discussion in 'People Photography' started by minicoop1985, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. minicoop1985

    minicoop1985 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Still practicing lighting. How did I do here? Raised the main light dramatically to create a better catch light in the eyes.

    [​IMG]Leaf_000663 by Michael Long, on Flickr

    I know Cooper's got an awkward shadow from his hand. I'm more concerned with the lighting of my wife here.


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Don't practice lighting, practice photography. That is: work on crafting a complete and polished image each and every time. Not only will that make you think about all the aspects of a good image each time, but it will be a lot easier to see where improvements need to be made. In this case, it's really hard to say if the lighting is 'correct' since there are so many other 'incorrect' elements.
     
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  3. minicoop1985

    minicoop1985 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Maybe I need to give up on portraits. I suck at them. I have no idea how to pose people. I have no idea how to light them. I feel like meaningful feedback is also VERY hard to get-I wanna know what I did wrong, and the number of people that even bother to reply is so small I never get more than one opinion.

    You mention that there's so much wrong with this photo. What is it? Just telling me there's a lot wrong with it doesn't help me much. :(
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Lighten up Francis; everyone sucks at everything they haven't yet learned how to do well! It's just a matter of practice. Since you said you posted for lighting, I wasn't going to give you a detailed crit, but things to think about:

    -They're clearly looking up and at something; what? Having the subject(s) in an image looking at something the viewer of the photo can't see can work, but in this case they both have an excited, happy look, and we want to see why. In short, why aren't they looking at the camera?

    -Mom's glasses frames go right through the middle of her eyes.

    -Mom has no arms

    -Oh... wait she has an arm and it's HUGE!!!!

    So.... why not start off with the basics. Set Mom and junior up pretty much as you have them here, but move your shooting position so that they're looking at you. Set your key light up about 35-40 degrees off-axis; probably on the side that junior is on. Set your fill up about 1 1/2 stops below and just off-axis. Raise the key light so that the bottom of the modifier is around middle of Mom's head, and it's angle down at about 30 degrees. Have the fill set to it's more-or-less perpinduclar to the floor and the middle is about the mid-frame.

    Now, posing: Have Mom sit upright and look toward the camera, but not stare down the lens. Ensure her glasses are pushed up, necklace sitting properly, rings, watches, etc turned upright. Have junior sitting beside her and leaning on her, but watch out that he doesn't press against her so hard he distorts her flesh. Have Mom put one (or maybe both) arms around him to hug him, but again, not too tightly. Lastly, have junior hug his stuffy so that his arms are occupied.

    Et voila...
     
  5. cherylynne1

    cherylynne1 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with tirediron. Mom's arm in particular looks awkward, and since it fades to black it looks much larger than it would otherwise. The expressions on their faces would be good if they were looking at the camera, but looking away it's just confusing.

    I also agree that the light/shadow ratio seems off. You mention that you had the key light turned way up to get catchlights. But the brightness of lights don't give catchlights, it's the positioning of the lights. You can get catchlights from a candle or a reflector. What matters is where it is relative to both the subject and the camera. The set-up described by tirediron would be very flattering.

    Because the light is so bright and the shadows so dark, many parts of the photo look somewhat washed out to me, including the skin tones. Then again, I'm not on a calibrated screen right now, so maybe someone else can comment on that.

    It's not a bad picture, it's just that it needs a few tweaks before it conveys the emotion you want it to convey.
     
  6. Didereaux

    Didereaux Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yep, portraits might require some extra hours of actually practicing and studying. Can't be simply gotten by posting a couple pics on the net....sooooo screw it!
     
  7. minicoop1985

    minicoop1985 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I was using a reflective umbrella at about that height and angle. Should I be using something other than an umbrella? Or a shoot through instead?
     
  8. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A million great portraits have been shot with reflecting umbrellas; NOTHING wrong with them at all. The main issue here was the placement of the light with respect to the subject and your shooting position.
     
  9. OGsPhotography

    OGsPhotography No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The lighting is fine. The picture is exposed. Over- all I'd say its rather low key. I'd rather not see the pillow and toy and perhaps the background could be OOF. Her hand is over exposed and you could burn it down a bit in post easy enough.

    If you want something to practice lighting with small strobes try the strobists method. ( strobist.blogspot.com I think) Shoot a portrait ( I picked a giant stuffed animal) from all angles of light and study the light.

    Two or three lights can get some amazing results. What did you use in this set-up?

    Look at portraits ( Flikr, here, w.e) and try to copy some that catch your liking. This pose and set up seems a bit thrown together. Planning is everything in these situations.

    Asking for general critique hard to do but you will learn a lot from these!
     
  10. minicoop1985

    minicoop1985 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    So perhaps I need it even HIGHER? We'll see if my ceiling will cooperate. :lol: But in all reality, I'll give this a shot later today with just my wife in it so I can at least control the pose... Posing the kid is nearly impossible unless you get lucky, which I have on occasion. He just doesn't listen well when it comes to posing-I think he just doesn't understand what I'm trying to tell him. he tries, though.

    My lighting setup was similar to this, but with the main light much higher and the fill closer to the ceiling. I use the ceiling for bounce to avoid multiple catch lights in the eyes.

    [​IMG]2016-03-02_02-02-15 by Michael Long, on Flickr

    That could be all kinds of wrong for all I know at this point. Since I'm fortunate enough to have modeling lights, I can at least have a general idea of what the lighting will look like before bothering to hit the shutter. Maybe if I play with that enough I might get this down.

    @Didereaux , I very much appreciate that insightful comment. :048: Some of us learn differently than others. I learn best by doing things, not reading or watching other people do it. That's why I record my lighting setup (forgot in this case) and post it-someone telling me "move this light 20 degrees higher" makes it easier for me to understand.
     
  11. minicoop1985

    minicoop1985 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I WISH I could throw the background OOF. Oh man do I. I hate that as a backdrop when it's in focus. I have a black sheet I could use instead... Maybe I should go that route. They're very close to the background, hence why it's almost in focus.
     
  12. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Okay... assuming Mom is sitting on the end neaerest the pillow, the leave the key light where it is, and get the fill into a position where it will do something useful (right now it's only going to be an odd sort of hairlight). Place the fill beside the camera (opposite side to the key) with the center of the umbrella at around or a bit above lens level and the open face of the umbrella perpendicular to the floor and 1 1/2 stops (ish) down from the key.
    Have her looking toward the key light (you may need to move the camera slightly; I personally don't like tripods for portrait work) which will give you a short lighting scheme. This is a good default starting point and tends to have a slimming effect on the face.
    Note that with the key light this close, you may not even need a fill, and a little experimenting will be necessary.
     

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