Thanks to Trish, Nick, Jay, Vanessa, Daniel and Lisa my pilot program of Conquering the Camera is complete. Everyone gained a lot across the three sessions, and I now have the material and my teaching methods clearly established…so more workshops to follow and more on that soon….so for now, thank you to my lovely participants!
Lights, Camera, Action
Today we covered off what we have learned about assessing light, selecting an ISO and light metering. Everyone now understands why it’s a dodgy idea to smack their camera on auto…it just doesn’t work. We need to look for a subject that we think is around a midtone grey, meter for that, then take our picture. Sometimes we still need to make some minor adjustments from there. In my example below with Zsofi, her luscious white skin was quite bright, so when we took a midtone meter reading for the whole general area, we found she was a bit too bright for our liking. So we all reduced our exposure by one stop, and then had this:
Ok, not a very scintillating picture, Z looks a bit bored, but at this stage we’re still just managing our metering process, OK?
The Mug Shot
Everyone has their strong points and weak points, in physical terms. And let’s face it, when we get our picture taken, we want it to be a GOOD one, our best angle, our best side…you get the drift. You can control a lot about how the picture turns out in terms of flattery. Let’s take a look closer at our awesome and willing model Zsofi:
Now, those police line up style mug shots are…shall we say…uninspired…the question is why?
1. Primarily because the camera is dead level with the subject, so this means that equal attention is given to the top of the face, as the bottom. When we talk with people they are generally at equal height to us, so there’s nothing new here in this photo angle to look at compared to what we might normally see in real life.
2. At profile the wonderful and whacky shapes of noses take full flight – I love Z’s roman nose, but for a flattering portrait, it’s not her best feature. (Don’t worry I’ll put myself in that Roman boat right with her…you’ll never, ever see my profile shot either!).
3. Jaw lines and chins are always squashed in a bit at a standard angle.
Something to notice from the left shot to the right shot is the amount of Zsofi’s almond face we see relative to her hair. That lovely curve line of her hair on the right hand is starting to show some promise…and her beautful eyes which I think are Zsofi’s best feature.
Changing up the Angles
Now, we get Z to squat down, comfortably, and we stay up above her and shoot down. This changes the angle.
See how her neck has disappeared, and we don’t have any major chin dramas?
See how we see more of her eyes?
The less extreme turn to 45 degrees means we can see both eyes, and the line of her nose blends in more with her skin tone.
Getting better, she has that beautiful almond shaped face, and we’re starting to bring emphasis to that.
Finally, lovely. We see more of the hair scooping down Zsofi’s face and makes a lovely line with her pretty jaw. The line of her eyes is strong and feminine, and her beautiful, soft pale skin is gorgeous against the dark background. Don’t get me wrong, this is really just a quick and basic line up style mug shot, but new and improved. The point here is to show that angles can make all the difference to even a basic portrait.
Handy hint #1: Move, move, move! Whilst your subject might be stationary, it doesn’t mean you have to be. Change it up once you have positioned them, move all the way around them and observe what happens in terms of what you see and what you don’t. Get the angles right so that what you do see, are the subject’s best features.
Handy hint #2: Simplify your background. Use a small depth of field to make the background soft. You’ll have nice blobby shapes that sit well behind your subject and don’t compete for the viewers’ attention.
Handy hint #3: Know that you can only do so much in-camera and that the next and equally important part of taking pictures is post production. All of the pictures you see are blogged with no post production applied except sharpening. The final image of Zsofi has had about 80 independant decisions applied to it – I’ve added vignetting, black clipping, spot healing, skin softening, localised sharpening, split toning to both the highlights and shadows, localised dodging, and altered the green spectrum. All post production on this picture of Z was completed in Lightroom 3.
The Adventure Continues
….yes…we did make a start today on Lightroom and all it’s amazing features. But really, this all forms the next level for Conquering the Camera, or is suitable for one-on-one training. To make the best pictures, you must conquer your camera, then conquer the light, then conquer post production…and I’m confident that I can see you on your way to any or all of this, as you need it.
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Thank you for reading, it means a lot to me that you’ve stopped by. I hope you gained some new information and insights. I’d love to hear your comments and will reply asap.
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