My second portrait shot ever. Feedback welcomed

Discussion in 'People Photography' started by inaka, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. inaka

    inaka TPF Noob!

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    Friend wanted a few photos in her kitchen for a food blog. I'm very new to portrait photography, and the previous thread I posted with my first ever model shoot gave me very good feedback to improve.

    I welcome any input on these shots:

    1.
    [​IMG]

    2.
    [​IMG]

    3.
    [​IMG]

    4.
    [​IMG]


    Images were taken with a with my Nikon D7100, 35mm, f/4.5, 1/80, ISO 100. Lighting was from a cheap lighting kit I got from Craigslist. I edited these shots in Lightroom for skin adjustments mostly. Two softboxes, both in front, each approximately 45° from the subject. Shots were taken in her kitchen which was very small,, but charming.

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


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Are the lights flash or continuous? I'm seeing the need for flash and a reflector for fill. Also, you might think about not making the light so "even". Two lights at 45 degrees gives you a fairly flat light.
     
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  3. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    it would be much easier to show you possible changes if you allow editing.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Shot #1 shows a very hard to describe lack of image quality that is characterized by many,many wide-angle lenses that do not cost a fortune; there's a fairly odd look to the edges of objects that have sharp, distinct edges, like the pots and pans and other utensils. This is one of the single biggest issues with many wide-angle lenses. I think I would see if the Lightroom lens profile might eliminate some of this lens distortion. (My 24mm Nikkor AF-D lens suffers from this wide-angle-distortion look to a high degree).

    Overall, these look acceptable, yet not "outstanding", and that's due mainly to the type of lighting pattern that was used. The lighting lacks drama, and is instead fairly flat, low-contrast, with very minimal shadowing. The shadows are very small, very soft, and so the objects appear subdued, and without a lot of shape, without much drama, not a lot of presence. This presence comes into being at an almost subliminal level...here's a great example. Look closely at Shot #2...hre face does not stand out very well. But in Shot #3, even though her head is much smaller in the frame, she has a more-distinct under-chin shadow, and her face is brighter than her neck, because she has leaned over and her face is closer to the light. She has a small hot-spot under her left eye. The lighting is not quite so flat in shot #2, and therefore Shot #2 it has much more drama, more visual appeal, it draws the eye in a bit more.

    What's going on is the two softboxes are acting as competing main lights, and you have very little shadow...the light is flat, and dull...it lacks snap, it lacks drama, it's very visually smooth and lacking in, well, differences. I'm not saying this is bad lighting; what I am saying is that these have a low-contrast lighting look, despite the multiplicity of tones and colors and the objects in the kitchen, things blend together too much for things to really stand out.

    To correct these photos now, in software, I would darken the images significantly, and then using the dodge tool, I would create some lighter areas, to make the images SEEM as if the lighting had more snap to it. Maybe boost the blacks a little denser, brighten the images, then boost the mid-tones with the clarity slider...these need just a bit more punch, a bit more contrast, a little bit blacker shadows. I would probably have used just one of the softboxes, and gone for a higher lighting ratio. One way to sort of simulate a higher lighting ratio is to "jazz up" the contrast through subtly manipulating the image in software, like with the clarity control, or the image curves, midtone brightness, and so on.
     
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  5. inaka

    inaka TPF Noob!

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    Designer, thank you for your comment. These softboxes were set to flash with wireless triggers.
     
  6. inaka

    inaka TPF Noob!

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    Derrel, as always, thank you for your detailed comments. I read everything you said, and your comments are extremely educational to me. I didn't want to quote your entire post, so I'm only quoting the above, but the rest or your comments were read and observed by me as well. I will take them to heart.

    I especially enjoyed your last paragraph about the lighting and how these images could be enhanced for greater impact. I took photo 1 and applied some of your adjustment recommendations.

    Did you mean something more along these lines:

    1. (original)
    [​IMG]

    1. (updated as per some of the recommendations you mentioned)
    [​IMG]

    Is the second image more appealing?

    Again, thank you for your time and detailed replies. Your comments in my first thread were excellent and I appreciated every single one of them. I appreciate your comments here as well. Thanks again.
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Thank you very much for your exceptionally courteous and sincere reply to my comments. You have distinguished yourself in my eyes by the way you've responded. And yes, I do find the re-work of the above photo to be more appealing. You toned down the powerful draw of the two stacked red pots in this version, and have subdued the background quite a bit, and made the woman's hand, apron, and face/chest areas significantly brighter than surrounding areas, so she really does stand out more, and the kitchen and all of its cooking paraphernalia is much less competing for the eye than in the original as-shown shot. The added contrast in her face/chest skin really does work marvelously to draw the eye to her.

    I DO think the second image is more appealing; if it were me, I might try making the entire back wall even darker, but keeping her at almost the same exact brightness. I think the light-colored apron she is wearing, plus the red ribbon tie is has, really helps pull the eye down to her hands cutting the apple slices.

    I think there's one small thing that could work well too, which would be to greatly subdue the reflections on that copper vessel behind her on the top of the small white cabinet...I keep drifting back to that copper vessel...I think cloning that highlight on the top, right of it would help make it drift more to the background, visually.
     
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  8. inaka

    inaka TPF Noob!

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    Derrel, thank you for your kind words, and again your valuable input. Side note: you were so helpful in my first thread, I was hoping you would have a chance to review these shots and offer your input. So I was extremely happy to read your thoughts on this series. After making the adjustments you suggested, I too think they look much better. More impactful and they draw you in much more. My originals, for lack of a better word, were "flat". These have more depth and life to them, thanks to your suggestions.

    Here are the revised versions:

    1-REVISED
    [​IMG]

    2-REVISED
    [​IMG]

    3-REVISED
    [​IMG]


    4-REVISED
    [​IMG]

    I took your advice as well for #1-REVISED and cloned out the highlights on the copper double-boiler she had in the background. Another solid suggestion, because now the focus is more on her as the subject with a distracting highlight in the background to lure the eye. Nice catch!

    Derrel, I want to thank you once again for your valuable input. And if these are now too dark in the background, or if you notice anything else that could be adjusted, I'm all ears. It's posts like yours that really educate me and stick with me for future projects. Great info, and most helpful. Cheers.
     
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