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Wow, she is a textbook MWAC (mom with a camera).
Here is her bio: “My name is Misty Flowers! Im 25 years old with a wonderful husband and 2 beautiful girls! My passion for photography didnt start til 4 years ago when I gave birth to my oldest daughter! I realized very quickly that moments go by so fast, so I started capturing every moment I could! I love capturing all those precious moments, so book an appt with me and let me capture those wonderful moments of yours!”
She can’t even be bothered to proof read her bio nor fully spell out words like ‘appointment’. And yes, her photos are awful.
Cookieboo, can we see some of your photography?
These last few pages have been absolutely entertaining! So much butt devastation.
Yeah, after looking more closely at LeeStudios post I saw what you were likely referring to but by then it was too late to edit my post. Sorry! 🙂
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! 😉
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.
Mr. Lee, in the interest of aiding my thoughts of your photos, I went ahead and took some notes on the images directly and saved them for your use. Please keep in mind that I’m not trying to tear you down or your work apart. I want you to visually see a couple things that maybe isn’t translating well in text that could help you.
The notes on the photos basically says it all, but heres a short list of general points of interest:
– Get your horizons level. Many of your photos are not level. Sometimes people use ‘dutch angle’ (which I’m not personally a fan of, anyways), which is an intentional and obvious use of unlevel horizons. I think its safe to say that your horizons are unintentionally not level. Its distracting seeing horizontal and vertical surfaces not true, and shows a lack of attention to detail during shooting and post-processing. If you don’t nail it in camera, it is a super easy fix in post. Just use a guide bar to see perfect horizontal/vertical lines and rotate the photos till they’re level.
– Since you’re shooting with just available light, you need to do a better job of metering for your subjects face, especially during the times when she is back-lit. Many of your photos are dark in general, and I’m guessing that you’re letting the camera auto-meter for the whole scene, rather than at least using spot-metering on her face, or bette yet, shooting in manual exposure to get the brightness on her face where it should be. In many shots her eyes look like black spots of coal. That’s unattractive and poor technical execution. Not a mistake a pro would make. If you already are shooting in M, you need to expose for whats important: your subjects face.
– Too much awkward and unnecessary negative space. Be mindful that the point of these photos is to showcase your subject, and use of negative space is a good tool for a portrait photographer, but too much can be a bad thing for many reasons. It makes your subject small in the frame when there is no real artistic reason for doing so (in this case), it lets distracting background elements into the frame, it lessens the details of your subject that can be resolved by your lens/sensor, in late afternoon/early evening, you will have a harder time getting sharp and accurate focus, and as a result leads to my next point:
– Many photos are very soft, out of focus, and blurry. Much of this has to do with shooting in late afternoon light conditions at distances that make accurate and sharp focus difficult to consistently achieve. You should be aiming for quality over quantity. Don’t feel obliged to provide x-number of photos, or even make a promise to do so. If you only get 6 really solid photos, so what? All it really takes is that one perfect magical image to make the whole session worth your time anyways. Your standards are too low, mostly because you just don’t know any better (which is OK) but the problem is that you don’t mind showing your ‘clients’ photos that are soft, blurry, out of focus, etc. Not very professional, right?
– Posing: Square shoulders (with relation to the camera)are rarely a flattering pose for woman. It makes their shoulders look too broad and their head smaller. Angle the shoulders. – Avoid having body parts pointing directly into the camera. You have quite a few where her legs are extended into the viewers face, which will cause aesthetic and optical problems (Not too mention several crotch shots, c’mon man!). Same with her hands and fingers pointing into the camera, and watch out for locked elbows. – Bottom of feet/shoes: a complete no-no.
Now for the hard part. You are not ready to be charging people for you services. YET. I really hope that this was just a practice session. I see that you have session rates on your Facebook page so that leads me to believe that you are seeking paid work. You are not nearly ready yet to be charging people for your work when you still have so much to learn. Shoot as MANY people as you can!! Thats the only way you can get better ( in addition to seeking critique/criticism). But don’t seek monetary compensation for it. You’re on Facebook, so you have FB friends….reach out to people and simply ask as many as you can to help you build your skills by being portrait subjects for you. Be up front and honest by telling them the purpose is to help you get better so you can pursue your goal of being a paid photographer. Then tell them that if they like anything that you shot that you would be happy to provide a couple of web-sized images as a thank you for their helping you out.But notice I didn’t say to build your portfolio. That will come when you’re ready to build presentable work for people that will hire you to take their photo.
You can’t focus on building your own skills when you’re focusing on providing 30+ images for someone who just gave you some cash. Would you pay for photos that look like your own? I wouldn’t. No one should. That probably sounds harsh, and its not a knock on you as a person. It’s tempting and exciting to get out there right away and start charging, but your technical, aesthetic, and compositional knowledge and execution are not yet able to justify it.
Keep PRACTICING! Shoot as MANY people as you can! But give yourself time between each practice session to look over your photos closely for things that we’ve been talking about so that you can internalize the information and then apply the corrections for the next session. Don’t expect overnight instant success, but DO expect small improvements in terms of quality and consistency each time you shoot. It’s a slow process, just like anything else worth mastering.
Ok, enough rambling from me. Good luck!
At the distance you appear to be shooting (is it around 20-25 feet from the group?), its probably just the softness that occurs at the edges when shooting wide open. The sharpness falloff can be quite pronounced on some lenses. Nothing unusual. At about 25 feet from the group and at 2.8, your depth of field would still be around 20 feet deep. At 15feet from the group you would still have around 7 feet of DOF.
But at least Ill be there!
I’d walk right past the camera store and clean out the guns ammo and knives store next door.
The trick is to pose your subject and compose the shot in a manner that allows you to have a pleasing crop of the subject AND still keep interesting parts of the photos on the thirds. It just takes practice. You don’t need to sacrifice one for the other, but you may have to think for a second how best to satisfy both objectives.
While both errors are poor technique, for me personally, it is more distracting to have bad crops of body parts than it is to have someone a little off one of the lines. But thats just me. You have a little wiggle room to work with on the rule of thirds, but really, as long as you avoid bulls-eyeing a persons face in the center of the frame and make sure your horizons are generally on the lower or upper third, while making good crops of body parts, you’ll do fine.
Usually one of these two mistakes causes the other mistake to happen, or make it worse if its already present. In other words, when someone is poorly cropped, it will make it even more difficult to get a good composition in regards to the Rule of Thirds, and likewise, when a subject is poorly positioned in the frame (tons of headspace for example), its almost always going to result in a bad crop of the body or body parts. Fixing one usually helps make the other better or at least easier to achieve.
The photos in the session are improved from the last set I saw of yours in another thread. I can tell you are thinking about composition and placement. The thorn is that some aspects are met in many of the photos, but one or two slip by you, and the technique error changes from photo to photo. Some photos have good adherence to Rule of Thirds, but her foot or hand is cut off at the joint. Other photos have her pose looking fine, but her face is square in the center of the frame (sitting against a tree, for example). On one photo where your subject is lying on her stomach in the grass and you are shooting from a low perspective, be mindful of body parts pointing into the camera. Her arm is extending towards the lens in one shot that would otherwise be quite pleasant. Body parts pointing into the camera are usually distracting.
Keep shooting! You’re getting better and I’m glad you want to improve.
Be careful not to crop out body parts at awkward places. A general rule of thumb for portraiture like this is that you should never ever crop a body part off at a joint. Any joint. Ankles, wrists, elbows, knuckles, hip, etc. You do this a fair bit. Doing so is a common mistake and is instant red flag that the photographer is inexperienced (or at least lacks experience with good composition). It makes people look like they’ve been amputated. It’s distracting. The good news though is that it is very easy to learn and fix. Take your time to examine every bit of the frame when you’re looking through the view finder and look for things that are awkwardly cropped or is otherwise distracting. When you’re going to crop a body part, make sure you’re doing so at about the midpoint of said body point (halfway between two joints, in other words).
Also, look up Rule of Thirds. I won’t explain it here since you have the world’s knowledge at your fingertips via a Google search, but suffice it to say, that learning the Rule of Thirds and how to crop body parts properly would immensely improve many peoples portrait quality. People like to say that ‘rules are meant to broken’, and I support that notion when it is done effectively, but I more strongly support the belief that until the rules have A) been learned, and B) been mastered), that people shouldn’t be trying to go out and break the rules (not that you’re really doing that, I’m just digressing at the moment. 🙂 ).
I can’t say it enough, slow down and take your time to compose a good shot with regards to the above. Your subject isn’t moving and neither are you, so there is really no excuse outside of ignorance to be making bad crops and poor technical compositions. Again, the good news is that those two basic rules are easy to grasp and implement with immediate results IF you take the time to learn and apply them.December 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm in reply to: Will someone please go tell this woman she is a fauxtog? #5080
The BBB can’t do anything anyways. For example, a business can send the BBB some cash and you can have an A+ rating. Its all eye-wash.
Agree to disagree, then. I contend that it sounds pretentious and especially in photography, implies that you possess some degree of skill or knowledge, which may or may not be true. If it makes you happy to consider yourself some sort of professional, when you just partly engage in a profession, have at it.
I’ve shot weddings, headshots, portraits, etc and have earned some income with it. I still wouldn’t call myself any sort of ‘pro’ for the reasons stated above.
I saw most of those photos before I called you remarkably average and that I wouldn’t associate ‘pro’ with your work. After seeing the same photos again, I stand by that statement.
You’re an amateur who does decent (read: average) work. Certainly not a faux. That’s all. I hold myself at that level as well. My point from the first time I responded to this thread is that there is no such thing as ‘semi-pro’.