Mobile studio portraits - am I doing this properly?

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
6,316
0
Berlin
der-tierfotograf.de
I did some standard portraits the other day for a guy who wanted some shots for an agency's stage background actor portfolio... that's why I tried to go for some Hollywood style with expression from earnest to smiling.

I had a plain background that happened to be available, an umbrella next to him, one flash on bracket and one flash below. The eye reflection didn't work out at all because the flashes weren't in the proper position, I need more flash tripods and a hairlight in the back. The eyes also aren't 100% in focus, obviously my lens needs some afma for that distance. Other than that, I know next to nothing about portraiture, so I'd like to ask for some feedback - thank you!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/83678576@N02/sets/72157644563132698/
 

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drolo61

EOS 80D
Aug 31, 2012
109
0
Hamburg - Germany
Hi Marsu,

the portraits look quite ok for starters.
Do you need flashlight?
Any chance to start out with available light and maybe a fill flash for the eyes?
If you need to use flashes, the one left of your subject needs less energy (or placed at a greater distance)
Personally I would rather take a little lower perspective not "to look down" on my subject.
I like your middle execution best for the lighter backdrop.

Hope that helps
Cheers
Olaf
 

BLFPhoto

Canon EOS user since '91...
For my taste, the main light is too direct and too harsh. The side light is too much. Better to get the main light further off the camera to give good modeling, soften it up a bit as well. And move the rear light higher and more spread across the entire back of the subject to give more separation.

The way you've shot it comes across far too flat...lacking contrast across the entire frame. The skintones are too close to the background tone.
 

pdirestajr

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 28, 2011
892
3
40
New York, NY
www.flickr.com
The lighting is really harsh and unnatural looking. You said you had the light in an umbrella- was it really far from your subject? A poster above said to move it further away from your subject, that is actually wrong. You want it as close as possible to your subject. The further away the light is, the smaller the light source is in comparison to your subject, and the harsher the light will become. Put light almost in frame.
(Note: Unless you were going for a harsh/ horror effect)

I'd start with one flash on a light stand with a shoot through umbrella (to camera left or right), slightly above and angled down on subject.

Also read this:
http://strobist.blogspot.com/

The crop is also odd in that it looks like there is a wax hand stuck to this guy's chin! I'd hold off on trying to add hands into the frame till you nail the other aspects.

On the good side, your subject looks totally comfortable being photographed by you, and that is 90% of the challenge.

Good luck!
 

Ivan Muller

EOS RP
Oct 25, 2011
357
10
Actually I quite like the lighting, it just doesn't suit the pose and clothing that well imo...With this more 'edgy' lighting I would have gone for the same guy, in a black t shirt, straight on, with him standing, and lose the hand ...alternating with a white and black background...reminds me of alternative culture magazine portrait style.

Generally you have to watch the shoulders and also the shirt. I very very seldom shoot HS portraits in studio with the subject sitting on a chair/stool I make them stand because its better for my back(!) and there is no funny lines on the shoulders etc etc
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
6,316
0
Berlin
der-tierfotograf.de
drolo61 said:
Any chance to start out with available light and maybe a fill flash for the eyes?
Well, I wanted to experiment with flash :) ... plus available light is, well, available or not, and I want to learn to take shots even if the natural lighting is not ok.

drolo61 said:
Better to get the main light further off the camera to give good modeling, soften it up a bit as well. And move the rear light higher and more spread across the entire back of the subject to give more separation. The way you've shot it comes across far too flat...lacking contrast across the entire frame. The skintones are too close to the background tone.
For that, I'd rather have another background "hair flash" for separation?

pdirestajr said:
The lighting is really harsh and unnatural looking. You said you had the light in an umbrella- was it really far from your subject? A poster above said to move it further away from your subject, that is actually wrong. You want it as close as possible to your subject.
That I know (for once :)). The problem here is that I've only got a "standard" sized flip umbrella, and I already move it as close to the subject as comfort allows. I was using it in shoot through position. I remember studios using much larger umbrellas.

Is it better to use the umbrellas in shoot-against mode to get softer light?

pdirestajr said:
The crop is also odd in that it looks like there is a wax hand stuck to this guy's chin! I'd hold off on trying to add hands into the frame till you nail the other aspects.
Right, you only know these things after postprocessing and getting experience :-} ... if you set up the lights in different places every time, it's rather difficult to get it 100% right.

pdirestajr said:
On the good side, your subject looks totally comfortable being photographed by you, and that is 90% of the challenge.
Photographing mostly animals and people together, this is indeed what matters most to me - make the subject feel natural, worry only about the technical aspects as much as time allows.

drolo61 said:
If you need to use flashes, the one left of your subject needs less energy
BLFPhoto said:
For my taste, the main light is too direct and too harsh. The side light is too much.
Actually I need a power pack on the flash, the problem was that the softbox flash kept recycling too slow, so I accidentally gave too much power to it which resulted in some over-flashed shots :-\

The general idea about the harsher light was to make him look more serious to counter his "mr. nice guy image", if you know him he's always very cheerful and smiling which I already have on an older portrait of him (attached below).

drolo61 said:
Personally I would rather take a little lower perspective not "to look down" on my subject.
Ok, this was on purpose, saw that style in a hollywood portrait shot once. Attached below is another one from the same day with a different model in a more standard position.
 

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wickidwombat

EOS 5D SR
Oct 27, 2011
4,543
0
i think your key light looks to be off to the side too far you are getting very hard side lighting its not really suited to the poses you are going for try bring the keylight up and maybe 30 degrees off the center axis use a lower powered fill light or a reflector to fill in.
 

Hillsilly

EOS 6D MK II
Oct 16, 2010
1,096
0
I think your lighting is ok. If it was me, I'd play around a little more with the B&W conversion, and perhaps add some more contrast. I don't know what the final objective of the photos are, but a few different poses might work well - perhaps it could be a little more masculine?
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
6,316
0
Berlin
der-tierfotograf.de
wickidwombat said:
i think your key light looks to be off to the side too far you are getting very hard side lighting its not really suited to the poses you are going for try bring the keylight up and maybe 30 degrees off the center axis use a lower powered fill light or a reflector to fill in.
Yup, you're correct about the positioning - w/o an assistant and the subject getting into different poses it's challenging to move the softbox around so it's where you want it.

Hillsilly said:
I don't know what the final objective of the photos are, but a few different poses might work well - perhaps it could be a little more masculine?
The objective was to get 2-3 shots for a stage actor's agency's portfolio, so I tried for a little hollywood-ish (clark gable?). The ting about the masculinity is :-> that he hasn't got very much of that to begin with, and that was the very reason for me to go for harsher lighting.

I agree I overdid it though, as written above partly because the flash recycled too slow, being too weak on some shots so I put too much power into it to compensate (which of course didn't work). I'll definitely attach a power pack to the softbox flash next time to prevent this.
 

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awinphoto

EOR R
Aug 26, 2010
2,090
0
www.reno-photography.com
This is my 2 cents... I do paid photos for a local talent agency who needs updated head shots on a regular occasion. They provide a room that is about 10 feet by 10 feet give or take.. it's painfully small but it is what it is. I'm trying to convince them to send the actors to my studio instead where i have more room to play with, but until then i got what i got. I bring 2 of my studio strobes with me. 1 Beauty dish, 1 softbox and 1 reflector. Beauty dish for face, softbox for rim light/hair light, and I bring about 5-6 different backdrop choices (muslins) and background stand. The one upside to shooting in such a confined space is I can have my flashes at their lowest settings and still get great lighting at ISO 100. They also do a good enough job with their "studio" space where I get no stray ambient light so everything is lit by my lights and no anything else. They require both indoor and outdoor shots for a good variety so for outdoor shots I bring reflectors, canon flashes, and modifiers and look for open shade with no dappled lighting. I bring basically my whole studio with me minus ottomans/chaises/props, but I get a great result overall. Good luck with your ventures!
 

mackguyver

Master of Pain
awinphoto said:
This is my 2 cents... I do paid photos for a local talent agency who needs updated head shots on a regular occasion. They provide a room that is about 10 feet by 10 feet give or take.. it's painfully small but it is what it is. I'm trying to convince them to send the actors to my studio instead where i have more room to play with, but until then i got what i got. I bring 2 of my studio strobes with me. 1 Beauty dish, 1 softbox and 1 reflector. Beauty dish for face, softbox for rim light/hair light, and I bring about 5-6 different backdrop choices (muslins) and background stand.
I often use a similar set up for portraits but I like to use a wide angle (180 degree) reflector behind the subject. It serves 3 purposes - (1) light the background, (2) bounce light for a rim light (with lighter backdrops), and (3) adds a nice hot spot behind the subject for a vignette effect around them.
 

awinphoto

EOR R
Aug 26, 2010
2,090
0
www.reno-photography.com
mackguyver said:
awinphoto said:
This is my 2 cents... I do paid photos for a local talent agency who needs updated head shots on a regular occasion. They provide a room that is about 10 feet by 10 feet give or take.. it's painfully small but it is what it is. I'm trying to convince them to send the actors to my studio instead where i have more room to play with, but until then i got what i got. I bring 2 of my studio strobes with me. 1 Beauty dish, 1 softbox and 1 reflector. Beauty dish for face, softbox for rim light/hair light, and I bring about 5-6 different backdrop choices (muslins) and background stand.
I often use a similar set up for portraits but I like to use a wide angle (180 degree) reflector behind the subject. It serves 3 purposes - (1) light the background, (2) bounce light for a rim light (with lighter backdrops), and (3) adds a nice hot spot behind the subject for a vignette effect around them.
Thats a pretty good setup... For the most part, my main light, and bouncing of the light, tends to be what lights my backgrounds... I prefer darker backgrounds if I can help it, which is where the nice soft rim-light comes in beautifully to separate them from the background. In a perfect world, I would bring more lights and have all the bases covered, but then in a perfect world I would be in my studio, or a bigger studio where I have space to add that light and not run out of space and have to worry that by adding that additional light, my overall combination of lights doesn't overpower the overall exposure allowing me to have a nice wide aperture without the use of a ND filter =)