OK, may I suggest the following - Take a pepper (as made famous by Edward Weston), or some round/elliptical object and try lighting it and photographing it in many different ways. This will make you devoid of any personal connection with the subject. Then apply what you have learnt to your next model.
The most difficult thing for people when beginning to make portraits is thinking that a portrait really has to be a portrait. Are you making a photograph of a person, or a photograph of what they're wearing?
#3 and 4 seem to want to think they are fashion photographs, but they don't stand up to the weight of the challenge. I'm partial to #1, tonally and compositionally, although the fact that the strongest highlight is on her shoulder instead of her cheekbones or something is a bit offputting because it draws your eye to an out of focus area of the picture that isn't really more interesting than the focal point. #2 looks more to be a picture of a girlfriend or something, rather than a "portrait" of someone else. Whether you want to communicate this sort of feeling sort of makes or breaks the photograph...I find these sorts of pictures more interesting as part of a narrative grouping, rather than one offs.
nice grouping !
i guess i could critique you and mention dust, things to crop, lighting &c but i don't think that matters
fill light might help illuminate your subject a little more, if you are going for
the "beauty shot" aesthetic, but if these are photographs of a friend, at ease
in front a a lens and you at ease with her, i think they worked out ...
you could easily fix the lighting in the dark ( or light ) room but burning and dodging
and crop funny lines ( by thigh ) or spot the dust out ...
using natural light to make portraits is never an easy task, flat overcast light is nice
bright sun burns out highlights and makes heavy shade .. reflectors and flash can help
but then you have brought a studio along with you ... a flash and a cord might be fun too
plug it into your PC socket and match it to the sun, and use it as a fill ... it all takes practice ..
it looks like you will have lots more nice photographs coming out of your camera, keep practicing ...
I saw that too, but it's really only apparent in the thumb. I don't think it's an issue when viewed large -- on screen or in print.
Originally Posted by JimO
I would use a reflector on all shots except the full body one in the desert.
Another ditto about reflectors and fill. Also want to echo the notion of depth-of-field: you need to control it better. Two shots could use a little more depth of field - #1 and #4. I know it's tempting to think of your images in terms of f2.8 from your Rollei's ground glass, but sometimes it's hard to tell when waist-level viewing on that small of a screen how sharp something really is. Start paying attention to the DoF guide on the focusing knob- it will help visualize what is and isn't sharp. Assume the human body takes up a 3' x3' square when standing still, and a 6'x 6' square when moving or gesturing. Do you have 6' of DoF at the given aperture when shooting the woman out in the desert? Is all of her contained within that 6'? Obviously when shooting a tight head-and-shoulders (or closer) portrait, you're not going to need that kind of volume, nor would you want EVERYTHING necessarily in focus. But what is/is not in focus should be deliberate, regardless.
These are all good photographs. Be careful getting too close with a normal lens, it tends to distort the features. Most beautiful women don't care for that. As said above experiment with a reflector it's more natural than a fill flash and easier to see what your getting unless your shooting polaroids (fuji). Getting a polaroid back and doing that can be very helpful before putting it on film. Back in the day polaroid was your friend but it does add to the expense, no reshoots especially with models :-) Keep shooting it looks great.
Is this a snide remark? Because I honestly do not understand what you mean by this commentary.
Originally Posted by cliveh
Thanks for the suggestions so far. A lot of these compositional and technical errors I wouldn't have thought about! Like the window frame for #2 and the nostril thing for #3.
I am going to make an effort to pay more attention on lighting, especially fill and look out for distracting background elements in my composition. The DOF is a tricky thing because of shutterspeeds and films (I shoot low ISO in subdued light often) but I will try to be more aware of this and maybe use a tripod (these are all handheld).
I guess it is important for me to think of what emotions I am trying to evoke and convey. It is a little different everytime but I'm not really deliberately going for fashion, glamour, or a conventional portrait. I have to think this through.
He's actually being serious. I don't necessarily agree 100%, but his point is valid. It will actually help you to understand the effects of lighting to photograph a single inanimate object in varying lighting conditions. Get anything, really- a pepper, a stuffed animal, an egg (if you're really up for a challenge - shoot an egg in high key lighting, preserving detail in the highlights of the egg against a white background!) and play Flat Stanley with it, at least as far as lighting conditions are concerned. Shoot it high key, shoot it low key, change the relationship between it and your light source by moving it, and then by moving the light source, and then by moving yourself relative to it and the light source. While you're doing all that, pay attention to the background and the subject's relationship with it. The reason for using the inanimate object is that you'll be trying to accurately render the observable physical characteristics of the object instead of trying to capture the emotional response you have to the subject. It's a good exercise - not to get your heart to detach from portrait subjects, but to train your eye to detach so it sees the form and the shape, color and texture without being distracted by the emotive aspect.
Originally Posted by msbarnes