Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Do I blow big chunks?

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  • #14741
    loribrown
    Member

    HEY! So, I am a new (new to charging people) photographer and I am looking for some honest feedback on what I am doing before I get into any bad habits. I am surrounded by the most SUPPORTIVE people who all tell me lovely things, but they don’t have a critital eye and don’t know what to look for to help me improve. I am a big girl, I can take it. Could you please have a browse through my website portfolio but more importantly client galleries and tell me what you think? Thank you so much!

    #14742
    loribrown
    Member

    I clearly don’t want feedback because I forgot to post my link… hah! http://www.loribrownphotography.com

    #14758
    nesgran
    Member

    You’ve got the start down but there are issues. Your kids shots seem better than the rest

    Most of your shots aren’t sharp enough or they are sharp in the wrong place. Little kid on crate with boots, the boots are sharp but her eyes aren’t. This shot has some problems, http://www.loribrownphotography.com/Lori-Brown-Photography/i-9zFRc2j , The man on left is out of focus but guy on right is sharp, you have a very harsh shadow from the direct flash. You need to stop down for a shot like that and think carefully about your flash so it doesn’t give off those shadows.

    Kid in black holding hands with dad (?) walking down a wintery road, very soft and far far too much contrast. All the shadows have gone black and it is very noisy http://www.loribrownphotography.com/Lori-Brown-Photography/i-k3nTZWJ

    http://www.loribrownphotography.com/Lori-Brown-Photography/i-NmwNtHV Another very soft shot with a far too long shutter speed, nothing to light up the eye sockets giving the girl racoon eyes, far too much contrast and also a wrinkly sheet as a backdrop.

    Your black and whites don’t add anything over your colour photos, get rid of them

    For your personal web page you will most likely want a far smaller and far less intrusive watermark. For FB I can see the point somewhat but not on your own site. No one is going to steal these shots and since they are on your webpage already there can be little doubt as to who the tog is.

    Why are there so many shots that look basically the same? Is this a portfolio or somewhere the family can order prints? If it is the former you need some serious culling and if it is the latter you probably want to think of a better distribution platform

    You got some nice autumny shots in the Towson family album but the one where the girl is throwing leaves you can barely see the kid behind the watermark. I quite like this shot, it could have been a touch wider and slightly sharper but not bad. Also, why are these not circulating on your front page as they are better in many instances than the ones that are there and also far more fitting with the season?

    Pretty basic framing but don’t cut people off at joints, you have a number of these. It doesn’t look great. Most of your kids shot are from an appropriate height but some aren’t when you are standing over the kids. The photo up the bride’s nose is not flattering.

    Why have you written in third person about yourself when it is a one man operation?

    I quite like this shot, maybe a touch more contrast but it need some serious tilt correction as the horizon is leaning by at least 10 degrees if not more. http://www.loribrownphotography.com/Lori-Brown-Photography/i-6646Fr7

    Your editing isn’t consistent, one shot will be very high contrast and some will be really washed out instagram looking. You can go crazy on one off shots but if you are doing a series they need to look consistent.

    I think your problem lies in your camera somewhat, a micro four thirds will have issues for what you are asking it to do. You need to be less afraid to crank up the ISO to keep a reasonable shutter speed and then deal with the noise in post. My suggestion would be to save up some money, invest in a good camera like a Nikon D700 or Canon 5D MkII which can both be had on the used market for reasonable money for a photographer charging. The reason being is that they will both handle noise far far better, at least two stops better if not more. They will also let you do the thin DOF without such long focal lengths. They are also much better ergonomically and will let you change settings far easier on the go and the flash control is far better. The selection of lenses available is completely different and much more suited to natural light photography. By all means, the GF2 is not a bad camera but it isn’t a camera for a professional photographer unless you need a small body like that for a specific reason.

    I think lots of families will be happy with the shots they are getting but I would be a bit upset since most of them are not as sharp as I’d expect them to be. Even in the 6×8″ they show up on my computer screen the softness is readily apparent, imagine if you wanted an 8×10 or something bigger than that.

    #14759
    loribrown
    Member

    Wow, thank you so much for your honest and helpful feedback.

    I have noticed that my photos are not as sharp when uploaded as they appear on my LCD and in my viewfinder. Do you think this is an ISO issue? I do try to keep it down because the GF2 adds a lot of noise. Whenever I try to add fill in flash, my camera seems to give it too much even at its lowest setting. I switched to an Olympus OM-D halfway through my photography so many of the photos you critiqued were with the Panasonic which I found wasn’t giving me the results I was hoping for. The OM-D for some reason gives my hot shoe a power boost and no matter how far away I am and at the lowest ISO it whites them out.

    I agree that I should invest in a better camera, I just got stuck in the M43 series and am afraid to start all over again 🙁

    My website is a smugmug so people do order from there.

    Question, for doing outdoor shoots in overcast days (the session with the little girl and the leaves was one of those days) my camera even at its widest aperture still had trouble capturing everyone in focus. Do you have any settings suggestions for kids who literally don’t stop running and in low-light?

    Again, I appreciate the time you took to look over my photos and give me that feedback. I truly hope to grow as a photographer and learning is the way to do it.

    #14760
    nesgran
    Member

    The olympus isn’t much cheaper than a used 5d Mk II unfortunately.

    I’m not sure I’m understanding your question but with a big aperture your DOF will be thin obviously. Do you mean that people move and you get unsharp shots because of that? If that is the case higher ISO counts would help but if the DOF is too thin a wide angle and standing closer will bring more in focus or using a smaller aperture. The sharpness could be down to ISO to some extent but I doubt it does that much. My experience with M43 is limited though so I can’t say I know how they react with higher ISO, it may be down to noise reduction in camera that smooths out details. The OM-D is certainly better at the higher ISO stuff though.

    -e- As for kids running around, shutter speeds of at least 1/250 but faster is preferable, 1/500 is even better and will almost always get moving people sharp. You may want to crank up your ISO for that though. I don’t shoot kids much apart from the missus niece and nephew but ISO 1600 and f4 may be needed for a fast shutter speed and a decent DOF

    As for the flash, can you bounce the flash? Can you add flash exposure compensation? Both will help indoors if you are getting overexposure.

    #14764
    cassie
    Member

    I try to take pics of my kids around 1/250th a second or faster like mentioned above. My lens AF is SUPER fast and reliable and I typically don’t have issues shooting them at ISO 400/ f2.8 on cloudy days using my 50mm, sometimes if they are further away I even can successfully step down to 2.2. But like I said, my AF is extremely fast and pretty spot on most of the time. The kit lens AF is slower but with the widest aperture being f/3.5, the DOF isn’t super shallow. I’m actually shooting with a Nikon D3100 crop sensor and the noise handling on it is actually really good. I know it’s an entry level camera, and definitely not a pro body, but it’s what I can afford right now.

    #14765
    loribrown
    Member

    The majority of my outdoor family photos were taken on the Olympus OM-D with a 45mm at 1.8 and shutter speed of 1/500 of a second or on a 25mm at 1.4 and between 1/300 and 1/500 shutter speed. I typically leave my ISO on 200. Even with that, with kids running around I am still getting a bit too much blur for my liking. When I add the flash (I tried point away, use a flash bender and also using a Gary Fong kit) at the lowest setting, I am getting too much light from the flash and it’s washing everyone out. I probably should switch to a DSLR but I really like how light my system is 😛 How expensive are portrait lenses for the Nikon D700 system?

     

    #14766
    nairbynairb
    Member

    You have a few great, worth-paying-for images mixed in with a lot of images that don’t belong on your site…

     

    In my opinion your two BEST photos are 48 and 50 (even though the focus on 50 is on the chin instead of the dad’s eyes :P)

    But then you have images like 7.. Yes the depth of field is nice, the light is nice and the exposure is almost perfect, but you missed the focus and the composition is weird. Not a photo for a portfolio.

     

    13, bad angle to shoot that pose at – makes his face look curvy in a not-normal way, and you can’t see her eyes and you can tell she’s trying really really hard to look at him. Instead you should have had him lean more to the right so he wasn’t as close to her face.
    14, her right eye looks weird because of the angle.
    18, not a strong shot… you shot it in a way that I can’t decide what I’m supposed to be focusing on… Are we supposed to be looking at her hair? or her tattoo? Or her necklace that you can only see a little bit of, but that’s what is in focus.

    22 is good minus the overly strong vignette

    23 is awkward

    I like 25 as a personal photo, but not as a portfolio photo

    26, should have used a flash or reflector (or just moved) to get the exposure on mom and daughter similar to the exposure on dad
    31 is nice… he looks like a young Ryan Gosling

    33 and up seems to be outdated work because the quality goes down from there (with a few exceptions)

    Overall I think you just have to keep shooting so you start noticing what’s going on in your images. A few images just have subtle problems that, had you been paying attention, you could have caught and fixed (hair in face, focus wrong etc.)
    You definitely need to work on your compositions. And you need to stop over-editing eyes.

     

     

    #14767
    nesgran
    Member

    The nikon 1.8 lenses aren’t that expensive, the 85mm 1.8g which is very good goes for about $500 new, the 85mm canon goes for about $350. I shoot canon so I know more about their lenses but the 100mm 2.8 macro (both the L and non-L) are great lenses that aren’t horribly expensive. The canon 135 f2 is a stunning lens but a bit more expensive but there are usually lots of these on the used market. The definitive portrait lens for canon would probably be the 85mm f1.2 but that will require you selling some organs usually, the 135 f2 and 200 f2 are stunning but the 200 will require more than one organ sold. All five canon 70-200 would be excellent portrait lenses though the f2.8 versions will be better. For a cheaper option you can’t go wrong with a canon 24-105 f4 as long as you understand its limitations.

    Here the D700 goes for a little less than the 5D mk II but lenses are more expensive on average. If you are thinking of trading up make sure you fondle both systems properly before you decide. For you the difference in resolution will make minimal difference but the ergonomics are more important. Both are great cameras. If I can throw a curve ball in there the 1D mark III will be cheaper, far more durable and weatherproof, miles better AF but only 10mpix, a similar but slightly worse noise performance and it weighs a lot more and a slightly smaller sensor.

    #14779
    IHF
    Member

    To be honest, without any background given on your part and I just happened upon your port, I would think they were taken by a beginner, not a pro. No, your photography doesn’t blow chunks, but… It’s not quiet up to par either. I think you need more practice to build consistency and reliability in your work before you start going too gung-ho into the business side of things.

    I think your biggest problems are with too wide of aperture given your focal distance, AND/or your focus mode/selection. I’m not very familiar with your camera, but I assume you are able to select focus and you have different AF modes to choose from? If so read up up focus in your manual and get a clearer grasp on how it all works. Learn how to chose your AF point/points, and how to lock your focus and recompose if needed. Practice and take lots of test shots of objects around the house, outside, and of family moving, and not. learn how to nail that focus. Play with DOF and how distance and aperture play together and also affect your focus and sharpness. Find your lenses sweet spot. To do this set up on a tripod, and take multiple test shots (do you have an aperture priority mode? If so use it for this test) at each fstop up to f8 or so. Then look at your files on your monitor critically. Every lens has a sweet spot (widest aperture possible without losing sharpness) and it’s never wide open. Nailing focus wide open is possible, (and the results can be incredible) but it takes some effort and a steady, patient hand. Shooting crazy wiggly kids wide open… Well your gonna run into some blur and focus problems for sure. There are other issues that have already been pointed out, but I think backing up and starting with these points will help you get on your way and moving forward.

     

    #14781
    Bill
    Member

    Your not bad, but there are a few images that either need tweaking or taken out of your portfolio all together.
    Speaking in terms that your portfolio should present your best work, here is what I see.

    Couple with kids – I find this angle to be a little distracting, though the photo looks good, I can’t tell whether they are on a hill or the sidewalk is slanted or what. Nothing major, but had to say it.

    Baby – The baby’s eyes are not very sharp, appears focus point is on ear.

    Kids in woods – This is where I think your equipment may be giving you some issues. The DOF is good but the circles of confusion COC are very distracting for this background. I don’t think there is much you can do about it without forcing a smoother bokeh for the BG, but then it may look forced.

    Family in woods – Again your equipment has failed you. Look closely at this image, see the purple fringing along the sharp edges of the tree?   This is caused when the lens cannot converge the colors of light correctly or a combination of editing causing the fringing to appear more exaggerated then it was normally.

    Little girl – Not exactly a great angle, the pose is nice but by having her look up at you, you lose any catchlights that may have been in her eyes, also the pose makes her look somewhat evil. I’m sure she isn’t, but it looks that way.

    Little Baby on blanket – The color is way off on this one, most likely due to a color cast being reflected from the blue blanket that the baby is on. You could do a little spot correction on just the baby to correct the skin tone so they don’t look like a blue baby. Also, It is bugging me, the person in the BG, should not be there, I feel that it is not a good thing to have someone’s ass in the shot not matter how blurred the BG may be.

    Okay, to be clear, I am being extremely hyper critical on these, I stopped there, because my neck hurts a bit and I am getting a little tired. Not at you. I think your a decent photographer. You may need to ditch that 4/3’s a step up and get a better quality DSLR. You don’t have to go uber extreme, but something that is a step up and provides some good choices for lens and accessory add-ons.

    I didn’t see the images from earlier in the post that nesgran commented on, not sure if you took those down or what.

    Anyway, good luck and keep shooting.

    #14782

    Kids in woods – This is where I think your equipment may be giving you some issues. The DOF is good but the circles of confusion COC are very distracting for this background. I don’t think there is much you can do about it without forcing a smoother bokeh for the BG, but then it may look forced.

    The background is too bright.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/54048679@N07/10589746076/

    #14785

    Little girl – Not exactly a great angle, the pose is nice but by having her look up at you, you lose any catchlights that may have been in her eyes, also the pose makes her look somewhat evil. I’m sure she isn’t, but it looks that way.

    In addition, the lack of pupils and catch lights make her eyes look strange, sort of dead.  Not flattering.  There is some strange triangle and line thing going on, on her left arm at the elbow.  I don’t know if it is hair, a tattoo, or dirt.  Her bangs seem sharper than her eyes.

    #14786
    loribrown
    Member

    Thanks everyone for the feedback!

    I had a free shoot yesterday, and I am feeling frustrated. Maybe like I am getting WORSE. My camera is always set to face/eye priority. I tried a wider aperture this time (F11) it wouldn’t even get the background nearly in focus, and their eyes still aren’t in focus even when my camera is showing me they are. I’ve tried SAF, CAF and tracking, and my camera can’t figure it out. I think my issue right now is my equipment, with my nervousness in directing people as well. I also have tried 5 different types of metering in varied light conditions and it won’t get it right. I am going to try some indoor controlled light situations and if that doesn’t work out, I’m going to switch camera systems. To what though, I have no idea.

    #14787
    nairbynairb
    Member

    What camera are you currently using? Can you not choose your center focus point and toggle using that?
    I personally use my center focus point to focus on eyes, recompose and take the shot. It works for me, and it’s very accurate.

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