My first model portrait shots ever - Feedback Welcomed

inaka

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I primarily shoot landscapes and have never done portrait photography. I'm really new at this, but recently, I picked up a cheap lighting kit on Craigslist just to play around, and took a few shots.

I would welcome any feedback:

1.
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2.
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3.
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4.
3WMYd06.jpg


5.
2ACKcx0.jpg


Images were taken with a with my Nikon D7000, 35mm, f/1.8, 1/8000, ISO 100. Lighting was just my old trusty SB-600 speedlight, and a strobe with colored gels from Craigslist.

Again, any feedback is appreciated for me to improve, thanks.
 

Derrel

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As far as getting a better rendering of a human face, it's best to avoid shooting from too close a distance with a short lens length. I can see that she has a prominent nose, and in such cases, the advice above goes double. The last photo shows the distorting of facial feature size to the highest degree.

As far as the lighting, it's a challenge to work with hard light on people, but for the most part, you did a good job of placing your main light. On most of these, there are large dark areas with no detail, so a tiny bit of fill light on her figure/clothes would change the complexion of these shots quite a bit. Shot #1 shows how a hard, crisp main light works when it hits an upturned face, with the light coming from above. The others show,well, how light rakes across a face, and how it reveals and obscures. Overall, much better than my first attempts with this type of hard light, which I recall with utter dismay. Keep working with what you have, on all types of subjects. There's a lot of stuff that can be done with lights and lighting.

My favorite is shot #4--I like the drama and mystery shown on her face! Maybe crop in on it a little bit though, to make the face larger. The colored gels really show the lighting effect, as far as the spread of the light and its brightness level in relation to the main light's brightness. I think overall, on shots with that much negative space in blackness, that it might be a bit better for MORE light on the background, to sort of silhouette the person's body a bit, to give the body a bit of a hint of being there.
 

Braineack

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the colored rim light is very neat here. 3 and 4 stand out here.
 
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inaka

inaka

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Derrel, I really want to thank you for your insight and observations. They are excellent.

What is your lens focal length of choice for doing portraits?

I shot these with a 35mm 1.8, but I do also have a 50mm 1.8 as well. Since I'm on a cropped sensor DX system, the 35mm focal length is the equivalent of the 52mm lens. My 50mm would translate to a 75mm lens in full frame, so I wasn't really sure which one was ideal. Your point about distorting the facial features is valid and excellent. Thanks for bringing this up.

I also appreciate your comments on the background. Good point as well. These were test shots taken in my living room, and I didn't even have a backdrop setup. Actually the room was entirely lit, but the 1/8000 shutter speed eliminated the background for the most part. But I agree that the next testing will likely take place with more light and, as you said, some background illumination. Thanks again for your valuable input!
 

Braineack

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you can eliminate all background light at even like 1/40sec if you stop the lens down. this will be benefictial when you want more than a nose in focus.

what are you using for HSS?
 

Derrel

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When photographing a person, the camera to subject DISTANCE from the face is the critical factor, much more so than the focal length. Moving the camera back, away from the person, causes the face to be rendered in a more pleasing manner than when the camera-to-subject distance is short. Seven feet is the minimum distance in my opinion, and 8,9,or 10 feet is better.

Here's a brief web piece on what I mean: A Striking Look at How Focal Length Affect Head Shots

And here is a large version of the comparison showing 19mm to 350mm focal lengths--EACH lens used at a distance that will render the same-sized head in the frame!

Untitled Document

With flash, you can use a slooooow shutter speed to "pick up ambient" light, by doing what is called "dragging the shutter", which I usually do at either 1/8 or 1/6 second, sometimes as fast as 1/20 second though; if you want the backgrounds to be lighter, you use a slower shutter speed; as braineack mentions, the f/stop has an impact on background brightness, in concert with the shutter speed. For example, if you were shooting with the 50mm lens at f/4.5 at 1/6 second at ISO 400, using flash, the flash part of the exposure would be the "subject exposure", and would not require a lot of flash output power. If the background lights were say a pair of desk lamps with 100-Watt incandescent bulbs, and the white balance was set to FLASH, or to daylight, on white wall, the backdrop would have a yellowish-orangey cast or hue if the exposure were done at f/4.5 at 1/6 second.
 
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inaka

inaka

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what are you using for HSS?
I was using my old Nikon SB-600 off camera with a snoot, wirelessly triggered with a Yongnuo YN-622N-TX on the hot shoe and a YN-622N on the Nikon SB-600.
 
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inaka

inaka

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Derrel, once again I want to thank you very much for your detailed reply. Your info makes total sense, and I appreciate your personal feedback.
Interesting info regarding "a minimum distance in my opinion, and 8,9,or 10 feet is better." Great info. I was VERY close to the subject in this series. I would say maybe 5 feet away at most at times. Thanks for pointing this out as it will be something to play with next time I shoot. Again, great info, much appreciated!
 

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Years ago we used to consider (for a 35mm camera) 105mm the shortest lens for head and shoulders portraiture. 135mm was more like the usual choice and 200mm was even better. With fixed focal length lenses, to get a person's head and upper torso in the shot you had to be back 15 or 20 feet at least, and farther for the longer lenses.

I see you have a couple of longer lenses that you might want to try for portraiture. Try them at the longest focal length to see the difference.
 
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inaka

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Desinger, excellent suggestion. Will do. I appreciate the input! Thanks.
 

GWWhite

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Inaka, I also have a crop body (Canon 1.6X) I use for portraits and I use two lenses. Interestingly enough, one of those lenses is a 28mm f/1.8 but I only use it for full body shots, never up close. For up close I use a 60mm f/2.8. That is based on my 35mm camera days (I still shoot them) and if you do the math you will find that the 28mm is my 50mm equivalent and my 60mm is my 100mm equivalent on my film and FF cameras. This jibes perfectly with what Derrel is saying and he is dead on. Those are my two preferred lens lengths for portraits. The bad side to using the W/A you will find is the reduced DOF on a crop body camera due to the sensor size. The good news is you can cheat it a bit and use the larger apertures and still get nice DOF with a little practice. That's why my 28mm is f/1.8.
 
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inaka

inaka

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Gordon, I also would like to thank you for your reply. Excellent info, and it's extremely helpful.

This thread has really assisted me in my next series of portrait shots. On my DX crop sensor, I really enjoy my Nikon 35mm f/1.8 so I will likely keep this as my go-to lens for full body shots and not headshots. After playing around with my zoom lens to dial in a focal length for head shots, (at a distance of about 8-10 ft away as Darrel said,) I may go with a 85mm f/1.8 or for head shots. That puts it at a 127mm equivalent full frame focal length to hopefully avoid distortion. Or probably better yet, a 105mm...
 

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85mm on a DX requires a lot of working distance.

It does render beautifully though.
 
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inaka

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85mm on a DX requires a lot of working distance.

It does render beautifully though.
I found that testing at 85mm on a DX had me standing about ~10 feet from the subject when taking portraits. I thought that 10ft, (and maybe even a bit further) was ideal to avoid distortion for portraits, no?
 

Derrel

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Yeah, 10 feet with an 85mm lens for a headshot looks really nice on the face! It gives an ever-so-slightly flattened look to a human face...I think for people who have larger/longer noses, the added magnification of the "background planes" of the face makes the longer lens really the way to go for headshots. The difference is subtle, but it's there. What braineack was referring to though is the narrow angle of view of 85mm on 1.6x crop sensor; to get an 8.47 foot tall field of view with that combo, the camera needs to be almost 35 feet distant, to get a full-length shot of a 6 foot tall person, with a bit of room for head- and foot-space. The SAME 8.47 foot field of view on FF is achieved from 20 feet.

AND THAT, the 8.47 foot tall field of view for a full-length standing portrait is "my" go-to example and has been for 5 years here on TPF; that is a great example of the distances involved, and where the 1.6x camera begins building increasing depth of field at a phenomenally rapid pace. At closer distances, there's not much difference in DOF between FX and DX digital; but, moving toward the longer distances, the depth of field **increases** at a very rapid pace. Bob Atkins has a superb article on-line, dealing with the way DOF and bokeh and background defocus can be divided into macro performance; close-ups; moderate distance; longer ranges.

Depth of Field Digital Photography and Crop Sensor Cameras - Bob Atkins Photography

Look at what happens at 6 meters with an APS-C camera and normal length lens...at 6 meters the DOF begins to SKYROCKET.
 

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