Home Forums Photography Showcase Something to past the time (most recent shoot) Reply To: Something to past the time (most recent shoot)


While I’m unsure if CameraClicker is secretly referring to me in his last paragraph (are you?), I’m still happy to share with you my personal thoughts.

I’ll just hit the points as you’ve presented them.

1. If you’re using Adobe Photoshop and you have the rulers enabled you can click in the ruler and drag down guide lines that will show you true horizontal and vertical lines. Drag down from the top (horizontal) ruler to get a horizontal guide. Drag from the left (vertical) ruler to get a vertical guide. You can place them near objects in your frame that you know to be perfectly vertical/horizontal. It’s generally easier to use a vertical guide and align with an element that you know to be perfectly verticle (street lamp posts/street sign posts, corners of buildings near the center of your frame, etc). If you’re using another editing program, I’m afraid I don’t know if guide bars/lines are available, as I’m soley a Photoshop guy. But yes, you can and should use the grid lines in your viewfinder when you’re composing to try and get the shot as level as possible.

2. There are lots of great portrait photos taken using just ambient available light. I’m a strobe & reflector guy myself, but if I didn’t bring any lights to the session I would still have a reflector or two with me to provide fill light into your subjects face. This is especially useful when shooting in backlit situations as the use of the reflector will allow you to better balance the exposure of the background with the exposure of your subject. I didn’t bring that up in my last post for brevities sake, but I’ll mention it now. Yes, for ‘normal’ and ‘traditional’ portraits, your subjects face should be properly exposed. Problem with that is if you meter properly for her face in a backlit situation, odds are good that the background of the image will be highly blown out. That may or may not look bad, and a photographer may or may not desire that effect (some do). My personal preference is for a more balanced exposure in those circumstances, and using a reflector will bring the brightness of your subjects face/body up enough that you can then get a more balanced exposure from front to back, but to each their own. A good simple reflector to buy is the ‘WalMart’ reflector. Go to the office supply section of OfficeMax or WalMart etc and get a decent sized white foam-core board. They range from $7-$20+ and make great reflectors. I use them ALL the time. 30″x40″ or maybe a little larger would be a good size for single person or tight 2-3 person group shots. I’ve also made a couple of big 4’x6′ reflectors out of cheap 1″ pvc from home depot and suitable white fabric from a craft store. There are TONS of tutorials on youtube that discuss how you can get great results just using reflectors.

As for a flash, without getting into a super lengthy discussion about it, I will keep it short and say that adding controlled lighting adds an entirely new element of knowledge, practice, and skill required to be successful with it, and that not having a flash yet and instead seeing what a couple of different reflectors could do for you would be a better idea while you hone your skills. That’s just my opinion, of course. If you throw a speedlight on your cameras hot-shoe and start blasting direct flash, even though its a brighter better quality of light than that from your pop-up flash, its still direct flash, and is generally not considered very attractive. There are light modifiers that you can buy and attach to your speed lights and some of them do a pretty good job, but I personally believe that you can’t beat the quality of using off camera lighting. And again, that’s for another day.

3. You did a better job not cutting of body parts at the joints. Definitely. A couple slipped by you, but otherwise just be careful not to let your subject get lost in the frame. When you’re looking through the viewfinder and you have tons of empty space, ask yourself “what is this empty space contributing to my photo?” Also ,the side in which you choose to have open is important as well. Generally, for regular portraiture, its pleasing to have the persons face looking into the frame and not out of it. There are always exceptions to that of course, but just use your best judgement. Now, I happen to be a fan of tighter crops,I’m primarily working on headshots right now, so I’m a bit biased on that subject as it is (if you’ve seen my 500px link in my profile, you’ll see what I mean). The tightness of your crop is your choice as the artist, so the answer to how confined your should your crops be….well, it depends on youu! 😉

4. Shoot as steady as you can. That’s an element you can easily control if you don’t mind a little extra work by using a tripod or monopod. I’m assuming you’re using a crop-body and so 50mm is basically a short telephoto focal length and your lens is non-IS. Combine that with the light from a setting sun or exposing for a dark back-lit subject and you’ve got a prime breeding ground for a little bit of motion blur. I don’ mind using a tripod outside in those conditions. It forces me to work slower and lets me focus on the composition that much more since I have to that much extra work. And then there is no chance of camera motion blur. Again, to each their own, some people prefer not to be anchored down by a tripod, though monopods give you a little more flexibility and decent stability. Next, for the softness, that’s partly because of the lowish light levels at that time of day. The less light there is on your subject the less detail that your lens and sensor will be able to resolve. As discussed above, getting some light on your subject with a reflector will help that issue AND have the added benefit of you likely being able to use a slightly faster shutter speed as a result, giving you less chance for camera motion blur. Your eyes work the same way. At dusk/non-bright conditions, you just can’t see as much detail on a persons face, right? Well, neither can your camera. And your eyes are much better than your camera in low-light conditions. That’s also way the couple of shots where you didn’t have backlighting (some of the train track shots) you had much better clarity and detail and less softness problems.

Then of course, in these lighting conditions, its just simply a little more difficult for your AF sensor to get an accurate lock on your subject. Nothing unusual about that. But guess what fixes that? More light! 😉

5. 😉

6. Good.

As for that photographer you listed. Well, her type of work is not my style nor preference, but based purely on technical merits, her stuff seems pretty inconsistent. Some photos are pretty good, and some are not. I mean, she has a picture of an owl in her portraits gallery! I also have an odd feeling about photographers that have to use things like Group-on to get business, but that’s just my personal opinion.

I won’t comment on whether or not she is a faux, but I will share that I wouldn’t hire her to shoot me and my family, and that’s partly based on her style just not being my cup of tea, but also because her technical quality is pretty hit and miss.