Archive for The Camera
You can add a great deal of artistry and interest to your images by using other f-stops that are available. I actually do know a professional photographer who only uses F8. Really!
It is especially easy outdoors to shoot at wide open settings like this image that was shot at f4. Of course you will want to use manual settings and take a meter reading like a pro. (If you are unsure about how to do this, I offer a manual you can find out more http://barbgordonphotocoach.com/products/beyond-the-manual-beyond-the-photography-instruction-manual )
The boy’s mom said, “Oh, I like the background.” the minute she saw this portrait. She also ordered this pose. Why did it seem so interesting to her? It looked different to her because F8 is close to the amount of depth of field of the human eye so we are very used to that. Anything more detailed or less detailed will get our attention.
So to add variety to your photo sessions, use different f-stops for a variety in the looks you show your customers. It just might increase your sales too!
The main light-
Raise your light to a 45-degree angle for more flattering light. Placing the light at the subject’s eye level and too close to the camera makes for flat lighting equivalent to a passport.
Use a reflector for a fill instead of a fill flash. A large silver reflector will do a nicer job and not leave a second, unnatural catch light in the eye or over expose the shadows.
Use a hair light, or kicker light, for separation between the hair and the background. Make sure this is not brighter than your main light. A stop less (depending on hair color) is a good place to start.
Behind the subject-
A background light is a must to create depth in the image. A quality background will come to life with a light a stop less than your main. If you don’t have room directly behind your subject for a flash unit, pump it in from the side. It still looks good.
The right lens-
Use a portrait lens instead of a normal or wide angle for nice compression. I like to shoot between 150mm to 200mm.
Not too sharp-
Use a shallower f-stop to keep the emphasis on the subject’s eyes. Too much background in focus, especially outdoor scenes, detracts from the image being a portrait. I like to use f5.6 or wider.
Meter it right-
Record the correct exposure at the time of capture. Do not rely on “fixing it in post”. This is not only unprofessional but time consuming and detrimental to the file’s quality.
Correct color temperature is critical for printing images with pleasing tones. This is especially critical for portraits.
Depending on your camera, you may still need to do a little tweaking in your imaging software like Photoshop. If you have done all of the above, you shouldn’t need to spend too much time in front of the computer. I find, however, my files need a little contrast and deepening of the blacks.
I have owned my Canon EOS 5D Mark II for, well, quite a while. I knew it recorded video. I thought I heard that the TV show “No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain” was shot entirely with it. I could not find any reference to that but I did find that it was used to shoot an entire “House” season finale, and the director says it’s ‘the future’.
I have gotten my manual out a number of times to look up how to set it to record video and gave up. Today I Googled “video on Canon 5D” and found a scary article about updating Firmware (do I have to mess with that?). That didn’t appear to be what I was looking for so I called my trusted camera sales person. Movie. I was supposed to look up MOVIE not video.
Since sound is important, I purchased a lavalier microphone by Audio-Technica for $28 and the sound is pretty good! This small microphone can clip to a collar so your subject doesn’t have to shout. The only draw back at this point is that it is on a cord but I think it is a good start before I invest in any money in any wireless systems.
Get out your manuals and look up MOVIE, not video, and play with it. This should be fun!
Photography is all about recording reflected light. Many beginners and amateurs are not yet familiar with how to see light and know what to look for yet. It can be quite a challenge to find locations that are suitable for outdoor portraits but there are some things you can use to your advantage. Here are five getting started tips:
- Photograph in the shade. Raccoon eyes, squinting eyes, deep dark shadows, and images with no catch lights in the eyes do not make a pleasing portrait. Place your subject in the shade with open sky as your main light source. This takes practice and deliberate study to find this kind of light. Going deep into the woods in too thick of shade is not going to give you a nice lighting pattern. By staying closer to the edge of the shade you will have great light coming from open sky.
- Photograph late or early in the day. This is often referred to as “Sweet Light”. An hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset is really beautiful light. The light is more even light and shadows are long and soft.
- Use a reflector. Reflectors work great to fill shadows and give a little kick of sparkle in the subject’s eyes. I personally use the gold side the most.
- Use a fill flash. When working in brighter conditions or wanting to include dramatic sky in your portrait images a fill flash is required to balance the lighting conditions for a proper exposure.
- Watch for color reflections. Color from items like green trees and red paint on a building, for example, will reflect into a person’s skin tone and shadows. This is not a desired outcome and will look unnatural. Be careful how close you are to strong color reflections. You can also correct minor color shifts in the artwork stage of your final image.
Of course you still must meter correctly, white balance, and process your files. But the more you get right in your camera first the easier the rest of the process is.
The cool thing is we can tell our camera what white is supposed to look like. This is called white balancing. If your camera understands what white is, other colors will fall into place more accurately. Be aware that colors do reflect and bounce around. For example, photographing with someone under a tree may cause a green to grey cast in the shadow areas of their face and neck.
Color temperature, measured in degrees referred to as Kelvin temperature (K), is the color of the light. You may remember seeing pictures of people in fluorescent light, everything was kind of greenish? That is an example of color temperature.
Our camera meters are designed to read 18% grey. By shooting in RAW and using a grey card to take reflected metering off of will make the process of color balancing in the processing stage possible. It is also fast, easy, and accurate. You can not do this with shooting JPEG.
I prefer to shoot RAW not only for the large amount of information I have for a quality file, I have more flexibility. I do not enjoy white balancing at every new location I go, especially when I photograph high school seniors. We change locations a lot!
To keep this simple but still get professional results, I manually set my color temperature on my camera to 4600K. (This setting works perfect for my studio lights and my system. Do not assume your work will look the same. You must test this for yourself.) This is close enough to the outdoor color temperatures so I can leave my camera at my indoor temperature and tweak any outdoor images in Adobe Bride Camera RAW processing.
Color balancing is tweaking the red, green, and blue channels of a file for the desired final effect like warming up skin tones in a portrait so people look healthy.
You may be interested in learning more about histograms also in the “Beyond the Photography Instruction Manual-Professional Results with Manual Photography”. I will take you through it step by step. Click here to learn more.