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Old Feb 1, 2011, 3:07 PM   #1
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Default First try at Portraits ...

Well... our little church school talked me into taking the school photos this year. This is my first try at portraits with studio lights and its a lot harder than one might think. Of course, not having a clue as to what I was doing might have had a lot to do with it.
I learned a few things.
1. I need a lot more practice.
2. I needed a little more time, I was rushed to get all the kids through before school was out and I barely made it.
3. Getting young children to pose isn't easy.
And 4. always check your white balance before taking photos!!!
One other thing, using Pentax Remote Assistant is a little awkward getting use to. and it slows things down considerably.
Anyway, here are a few samples of what I came home with. Ant and all C&C welcome. I can use all the help I can get!
BTW, these were taken with my Vivitar 135mm lens.

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Old Feb 1, 2011, 3:09 PM   #2
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This young lady was a delight to work with.





Have to work on color of the skin tone...



This guy is a joker, and having a student in back of me making faces wasn't helping matters but, at least he was smiling.











When you have those that just don't want to co-operate... you have to get imaginative, and you never know what you'll come up with.
the slow shutter speed made it a little blurry be cause he was laughing, he wasn't sitting still.





Same problem here too...




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Old Feb 1, 2011, 3:09 PM   #3
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This little one was so sweet, and patient with me...





This little guy was so adorable! but once again, movement made it blurry but, I had to post it anyway.
Looks like I'll have to do a few re-takes.
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Old Feb 1, 2011, 3:15 PM   #4
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You know why these are so nice / Because the children are smiling, laughing and generally look like they are enjoying themselves. I won't critique too much because I'm not a portrait shooter but :

1st lady : honestly the one that needs the most work doing. The first shot comes closest but there is still too much shadow for a school pic.

The others all look good - if cropped a little too tight.

oops a little too quick, you have more ! That one you said is soo sweet .... really is ! She's lovely !

Good job John !
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Old Feb 1, 2011, 4:30 PM   #5
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Generally pretty good portraits...my favourite is the Joker...# 1 pix is very good. I like the lighting here.

I'm no expert but I think if you can determine the best lighting, consistently...that makes a big difference.

I'm not good at lighting and usually just stumble..eventually...on something that works.

Lens....the 135 is good as it gives you some distance from the subject, doesn't make them too nervous.

I wonder what you would think is the sharpest lens in your repertoire ? In my case I find that my Pentax 50mm F 1.4 is right up there and on my DSLR converts to around a 75 mm...which is not bad...focal length wise for a portrait lens.

But I think they are very good for your first try and junior high students are not the easiest age to work with. I think the parents and kids will be very happy with the pix.

One of the other things I like about your portraits...is that the kids look 'natural'...not posed the way a lot of school pictures are...where the photographer 'contorts the kid...so much so that the smile looks forced.

Your's are natural, at ease...very hard to do. Do you know the kids ? If so, that might account for the relaxed look...although I think you have a good way with people, going by your posts.

So my suggestions....experiment with lighting....maybe use a family member, remember the settings, etc...I write them down , do a little diagram and I would use your sharpest lens.

BTW, again I'm no expert...did a wedding once...that wasn't easy. Did a portfolio for a vintage, exotic car...that wasn't easy either.

Les

Last edited by lesmore49; Feb 1, 2011 at 4:39 PM.
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Old Feb 1, 2011, 7:40 PM   #6
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I've never shot a portrait in my life so I'm the wrong guy to offer any suggestions. That said, I like the side lighting a lot, but I think the shadow is a bit too dark in the first shot. The second shot looks like the light is a bit too direct, straight-on. The facial expressions are absolutely delightful. For a first attempt I'd say these are excellent!
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Old Feb 2, 2011, 1:48 PM   #7
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GW these are great, except for the lighting on 1 & 3. I took the liberty of trying something - lightening shadows, darkening highlights and adding in a bit of contrast when they looked too flat, and then tweaking the skin tones a little, not knowing what the natural ones actually were. Still not great, but it gives you an idea of what can be done with them. I don't think that particular background helps. You had some wonderful subjects that show great personality.

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Old Feb 3, 2011, 2:19 PM   #8
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Hi Guys,
Thank you everybody for your feed back.
I agree with all the comments. Lighting is something that I'll have to work on.
I was using my Dynaphos soft box lights one is 500 watts and the other 1000 watts.
And a third light for background, I thought these would be enough light but, I now realize I need a main key light for better results. The ones that were better lit, were when I used my 540 flash. I think the mix of light temperature is what gave me such a problem in some of them.

Pen, your edits look better, more like what I envisioned when I took them. As for the background... yeah, I don't like it much but, that's the one the teacher picked.
I ordered this one off the internet and it really wasn't what I thought it would be. If it didn't have the green blotches mixed in I think it would have been OK.
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Old Feb 3, 2011, 10:40 PM   #9
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Well GW you have more guts than I do, NICE JOB I am sure all will be happy with the results, I have a hard time just shooting the grandkids, I get about one good shot out of every 10, but that's ok they let me shoot a 100

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Old Feb 4, 2011, 5:44 AM   #10
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Very impressive results - it's obvious your hard work with the lighting setup is working well. It's also obvious you get along well with the children - you really put them at ease, and it shows!
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