canon rumors FORUM

Image & Video Galleries => Portrait => Topic started by: bholliman on February 03, 2013, 03:39:13 PM

Title: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: bholliman on February 03, 2013, 03:39:13 PM
I've been interested in photography for roughly three years.  I've primarily been taking landscapes and kids sports shots to this point, but this winter have been experimented with portraits and indoor, natural lighting shots.

Attached is a portrait I took of my son in this Boy Scout uniform yesterday.  I'm not real happy with the result.  One mistake I made was having him stand too close to the backdrop, so that I couldn't blur it.  I find it somewhat distracting.  His left side is also shaded somewhat.

This was taken during the day, there is a large picture window to his right and I used a Speedlight (430EXII) bounced off the ceiling in addition to incandescent lighting in the room.  This picture was taken with a 6D camera with 70-200mm f/2.8 II IS L lens at 125mm, 1/50 sec. f 2.8, 400 ISO.  No post processing other then some cropping of the edges.

Any suggestions for improving set-up, lighting, technique, etc. would be appreciated.

Title: Re: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: Quasimodo on February 03, 2013, 05:03:36 PM
I am by no means an expert, and like you most of my photography is a hobby, with a few late exceptions (last year, where I have had about ten paying photojobs on the side of my regular work (mainly to pay for more gear:) )

A couple of things strike me about the shot. The composition of the shot. It is a bit prisonlike :), and you have a lot of space over his head, while cutting his limbs by the elbow.. If I recall you shot him at 125 with a 70-200. I am not sure how much further back you can move, but you can certainly move the zoom back so you get more body, and less dead space above him. Also as you have noted yourself, move him away from the backdrop, and then you have to choose whether you want a low-key or a high-key photo. If the latter then you need more light on the background, as well as a bit blurry. The light in your son's face is a bit flat (the shadows give depth). The white balance seems off, but that might be my screens.. A tad green, but more so on my iPad retina, and less so on my laptop, but I guess that you are shooting in Raw, so that will be no problem to fix afterwards.

Another question is what do you want this photo to be? A character study of your son, or getting focus on his medals and stuff? He as far as I can see have beautiful eyes, and maybe you should work with that?. Get him in a pose that is not straight on, but a bit turned to the side? If the focus is the boyscout, maybe a portrait in their natural environment?...

Just a few thoughts. Hope this helps.

Title: Re: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: ScottyP on February 03, 2013, 05:52:28 PM
A reflector would help with that dark side.  You can get the Chinese collapsiible reflectors very cheap, or pay a bit more for a name brand like Lastolite, etc....  You can also replace or supplement your store-bought reflectors with a simple sheet of foil-wrapped insulation board from Home Depot.  If you have a reflector at 45 degrees of the subject on both sides, and you bounce flash off the ceiling, you might get better results with your single flash.

I assume the camera chose your 1/50th shutter speed at 125mm.?  That might be a little slow for getting total sharpness in the eyes.  (even worse if using the 7D instead of the 6D)  You have an ETTL speedlite, so you could go Manual and select a faster shutter and the flash will compensate for the underexposure.  If things are still coming out too dark, you can jack up the Flash Exposure Compensation a stop or so.  Your lens does have good image stabilization, but I am not sure you really need to be counting on it. Also, IS won't help with any subject motion blur you might get from your relatively still subject moving a little.

It seems like you used the center AF point with the camera in portrait orientation.  His face is right in the middle of the shot, but it gave you too much negative space above his head.  You can select a different AF point so that your focus point is nearer the top of your viewfinder, and then you don't have to place his face right in the middle of the shot.

Taking it to the next level, you can get 1 or more additional speedlites, possibly some wireless flash triggers, light stands, shoot-thru umbrellas, etc...
Title: Re: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: picturesbyme on February 03, 2013, 05:56:28 PM
Please watch this: (
also watch some of these: (
these videos: (
and of course don't forget to try them.
A photo is not "Good" because it is unedited and untouched - unless you are a journalist. So don't be afraid and edit it a bit.

Title: Re: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: dave on February 03, 2013, 06:27:58 PM

Thanks for sharing your portrait. I really like the expression and interaction with the viewer.

As some other kind folks have alluded to the image composition could perhaps be looked at. You could try a few different styles of cropping. Personally I would crop tighter at the sides and lower. (less space at the top). I tend to avoid the extraneous where possible.

I feel the image is slightly underexposed for my taste, however the slightly darker shading on one side doesn't bother me, in fact I'd probably have a little more.

Please note that I think you have done marvellously well and in the main I have offered some creative alternatives that you might try (these decisions are always subjective. I took a portrait of my fiance for an article yesterday and she was just inside the left edge of a landscape oriented frame (not traditional and not something I'd normally do but it worked really well because of the location). Portraits are also so much about practising and getting to know your lighting.
Title: Re: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: bholliman on February 03, 2013, 10:28:55 PM
Thanks for the suggestions and links.  I'll try some different lighting, poses and cropping tomorrow.

I shot this holding the camera in landscape orientation rather than portrait for some reason.  So, could have gotten closer and cropped less if I made that change.  I agree, there is way too much empty space over his head.

I have done quite a bit of un-posed, natural light shots of both sons (the younger one is only 10-months) around home and those have generally turned out pretty good.  Posed shots are definitely   (edit add "not") in my comfort zone right now.  I need to experiment more and become better educated about posing and light.

Thanks again
Title: Re: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: RLPhoto on February 04, 2013, 12:00:27 AM
Get the boy to take two large steps from the backdrop and set your flash to 24mm. Depending on ceiling height, bounce the speedlite slightly behind you and add + flash expo comp until you get something like this. You can add a reflector under to kick a bit more light under the chin.

5D3+ 135L

f/2.2 - ISO 100 - 1/200th

Title: Re: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: robbymack on February 04, 2013, 12:20:44 AM
Any portrait of a family member, especially a child, is precious. I don't care much for the lighting or pose but hey it's your son so who am i to say its not good. He a good looking kid, for that you should be proud. Looks like hes got a nick on his lip, hopefully he got that in a school yard brawl (yes i jest, the last thing i want is for my son to get is some fight), accentuate it a bit and see if you can get a more striking pose from him. I'd experiment a bit, turn his shoulders, exaggerate the jaw line by bringing his forehead towards the camera, fill the frame as they say, that should create a nice jaw line and turn a snap shot into a portrait.
Title: Re: Portrait suggestions needed
Post by: bycostello on February 04, 2013, 01:30:18 AM
ordinarily I'd turn the subject's body to the camera....  but in this case you want to see all the badges etc...