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The guy next door

Discussion in 'People' started by Kevin Scott, Jul 23, 2005.

  1. Ran into my neighbor and asked if he'd be willing to sit for me while I practice my portrait shooting skills. I wanted someone unfamiliar as I've run my family ragged practicing. "Junior" was kind enough to agree. Turns out he was really a natural. We've had 2 different "practice" sessions and these are some from both.

    I settled on SB-800 and SB-600s for my studio lights, for the time being at least. They seem to be plenty strong to accomplish my goals. There are some challenges to using them as opposed to strobes but many advantages.

    I'd like some feedback/critiques on the following shots. I've studied posing and lighting for quite a while but only recently started putting that knowledge to practice. It's not as easy as one would think. Anyway, I'd like to hear your thoughts. This field of portraiture will be my specialty~more specifically, high school senior portraits.

    This was literally my first attempt at a high key shot.

    ...and another shot....

    ...and the last shot....

    On the last shot, I realize I broke a couple of posing "rules" but he settled into this posture on his own once I got him posed and I really liked the expression so I went with it. Btw, these were all shot with the 85mm 1.4

    Appreciate your time,
  2. Leigh


    Feb 19, 2005
    Kevin, I don't know the first thing about portrait photography...but your neighbor is gonna love that last shot! Has a very "friendly" feel to it. My favorite of the 3 shot, by far.
  3. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Good start!

    With the 1st 2, I think you might need to get some hairlight on his side opposite the main. You're losing detail there. What light modifiers are you using on the SBs?
    Love the last one. Tell me why you say you broke the "rules" for it?
  4. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    WOW Kevin,

    Youre doing great. Those are great images.

    That last one is perfect....

    If you think you lost some light on the first two. Perhaps a tiny tad of shadow highlights in PS would work...by what steve says.

    I think they are great.

    I don't know anything about this stufffffff.
  5. Leigh, he came over on Monday to see the shots from Sunday evening. I had printed #3 out 8x10 and kinda made a big production for him before showing it to him. He was speechless! All he could say was Wow! It was funny when I asked him what he thought. He said he wasn't expecting it to look that nice. This was the first time he's really done any kind of "modeling" and it was my first real non-family shoot.

    I think he's hooked cuz now he keeps asking if he can come over and shoot some more. He just graduated from high school this year and is the nicest guy. Definitely not a typical teenager.
  6. Re: Good start!

    That was one of the details I'll admit to overlooking. Didn't even think of it. I did have a reflector on that side but I think it was too far to be effective. I was using shoot through umbrellas for the key and fill and a pocket bouncer on the bg light. I only have 3 speedlights currently but am planning on adding a 4th in the near future.

    On the 1st shoot, which is when the last pic was taken, I was trying a variety of modifiers: brolly box, shoot thru umbrellas, bounced in white umbrella and even a silver bounce umbrella. Also used diffusion panels. On the 2nd shoot, I used strictly shoot through umbrellas. I think I kinda prefer the bounced ones though. I have a couple of softboxes but haven't figured out a way to attach them and the speedlights to the stand. I bought them when I was planning on strobes.

    As for the rules, I broke quite a few:
    1. the back of his hand is showing. I knew it but liked the pose so left it.
    2. the black bracelet is a distraction but I didn't think it was too terrible.
    3. his thumb, under his chin is too bright and a distraction. I can hear Chuck Gardner saying it draws the eyes from the face.
    4. diamond stud --same as #3
    5. facial pose isn't quite full oblique--the right ear is showing
    6. shirt color is questionable as to whether it's a distraction. I was concerned when he arrived but I don't think it's too terrible. In a way it adds a bit of richness to the shot, maybe because of his skin tone.

    Re: #5, I did many shots that were "proper" poses but quite honestly, the ones that look the best are where he is more head on to the camera. I haven't verified it but it could be because his face is symetrical. To me, success is creating a pleasing portrait and one that reveals a bit of personality. So if a few rules are broken along the way, so be it. I guess I'm at the beginning stages of developing my style, whatever that will be. ;) 

    I'm glad you took the time to comment as I know you're a straight-shooter and you tell it like it is. I appreciate that, even though it's very difficult to put "your work" out there for critique. Birds and flowers, I don't really care about. Portraits I do, so I'm a bit aprehensive, still.
  7. Thanks, Gale. You're another straight shooter and tell things like they are! :) 

    I'm using PS7 so I don't have shadow & highlights. I noticed after I posted and saw them together for the first time that the 1st two were darker but too late then! :)  I did go back into the .psd file and added a curves layer to see what effect it would have. It lightened them up nicely. I even got some hair detail out of them, too. Not sure what happened the first time, guess I was just too conservative with the adjustments. I also noticed on #2 a red cast in his skin so I've got to go back and address that. I've got so many good ones of him and I'm working them all up. He's already having a hard time picking out his faves from the 1st night.

    Having him sit for me is a great opportunity for me to learn. Each visit I can focus on some other aspect. He's practically become a part of the family! ;) 
  8. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Kevin...I don't know diddle about portraiture :shock: , but make sure that he gives his Mother a copy of that third image. That is a great image and his Mother should have one...matted and framed!!! 8)
  9. Thanks, Frank! Yeah, I agree his mother should get that one. He told his mother he had come over and that he liked the shots. Now she's talking about having a portrait made in a big fancy white dress to hang in her front hall. Maybe this is how it all starts. ;) 
  10. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Great job, Kev,

    From what I see in your portraiture talent, you can make some people really happy with your skill capturing their smiles and expressions. If money enters the situation at some point, well then, that is even better. It is obvious that you have a true flair for portraiture, you may as well take it as far as it will go. Portraiture is a wonderful aspect of photography where many are not nearly as skilled as you...continue with your passion and reap it's rewards.
  11. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Ditto much of what has already been said. You did really well with these. Like most, I think the 3rd shot is the best of the lot.

    And as for breaking the rules I think you're being too hard on yourself. Some of those rules are really just more like "guidelines" and even then have to be considered on a case-by-case basis. As much respect as I have for Chuck Gardiner I think if you followed all of his rules all of the time you'd end up with a pretty boring portfolio.

    I agree the thumb is maybe a distraction tonally; you might be able to burn it in a bit so it's not quite as bright. The bracelet and earring don't bother me so much; if he feels those are part of who he is, he probably likes that they're featured in the picture. I think the shirt color is fine because of the lighting. As for posing, IMHO a 7/8 view can be a GOOD thing for certain face types. Look at the first shot compared to the third: I like the angle in the 3rd much better, because the first shot I think makes his cheeks look too puffy since you don't see the ear there to balance it out.

    You've definitely got the right stuff as far as portraiture goes, keep at it.
  12. Thanks for the kind words, Frank, and the encouragement! Yes, portraiture is my passion. Don't know why. I look at people's faces all day long and wish I could shoot some of them. I think it's the challenge of bringing together all the different elements to make an impressionable slice of their life.

    As for the $, it better enter....I don't want to live on Ramen! ;) 
  13. Thanks for the encouragement, Jeff. I was rather aprehensive posting these as these are the kinds of shots that mean the most to me. I wish we had more participants who were interested in portraiture....maybe in time...

    Thanks for stopping by to look and offer your comments. It is appreciated!
  14. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl

    what shows on the net is not what your prints may look like.

    Trust your print, not the net.
    I know you are looking fo a printer to print your own. However, please don't forget the offer to let you meet Joe. Might make all the difference in the world.

    get your self over here friend.
  15. I liek the hi key shot the best myslef and then #3 he shoudl be pleased with these he looks very comfortable in front of the camera
  16. I like the hi key shot the best myself and then #3 he should be pleased with these he looks very comfortable in front of the camera
  17. I, too, really like the third shot. Rules are meant to be broken sometimes!!!
  18. Indeed he was ~ a natural! :)  Makes it easy for me!
  19. I agree, totally! My first objective is to master shooting "by the rules" so then I can successfully break the rules, if that makes sense. I'd prefer to be in control and not get results by happenstance. So, onward I go... ;) 
  20. Just wanted to update....

    I brought some proofs over to the mother to see. She was thrilled! She just ooohhhed and ahhhhed. Don't mean to make it sound like tooting but I was excited since she asked me now to take her portrait.

    And hopefully this is how it all starts...
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