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oBSidian Jan 26, 2006 6:19 PM

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This is my first attempt at a portrait. I don't have any sort of professional lighting, so that's already something I know is wrong with this photo - any ideas on how to PS this better would be appreciated - shadows highlights didn't work so well for this one (b/c the sepia).

My other hunch is that the background is too busy and should be more out of focus and further away (tried a layer mask and lens blur in PS CS2, but it looked too artificial b/c the wall was so close behind).

What about the composition / DOF? Sepia effect? Added vignetteing?

Thanks in advance!


rjseeney Jan 26, 2006 7:18 PM

I don't think your lighting is too bad...maybe just a tad hot. The shadow on the right is a bit bothersome as it is on the edge of the scene and causes the image to be slightly out of balance. You could probably crop some of this out and not hurt the scene too bad as it would also get the subject out of dead center. I would also clone out the small catchlight on the nose.

In terms of pose, the pose you have chosen kind of emphasizes the nose a bit...I'd raise her chin and/or turn her slightly more towards the lens to de-emphasize the nose. I also think it would be better if her eyes were open.

Your comment about the background is on is too busy.

I also notice in the EXIF that you shot this at f/8 and 800 ISO. I'd at least open up the lens a bit...f/8 is typically a sharp aperature for most lenses...shooting at a larger aperature would soften (typically) things a bit and allow you to reduce the light a bit, which I think would give you a more pleasing effect.

In reality, i don't think this is a bad effort (although it may sound that way). The sepia works for me and none of the things I pointed out is a major glaring error that ruins the image. You don't need pro lighting to take good portraits...natural light tends to be soft and usually adds depth to a scene...get by a window early in the morning or late in the afternoon and i think you'll like the results.

Keep shooting!!

Aumma45 Jan 26, 2006 9:09 PM

Besides what has been said, the subject per se is well lit, the composition is a commendable effort, and from an artistic point of view it is a good attempt. I don't have studio lights and have either used a flash or natural light. It works. Regards.

johnsonM86 Jan 26, 2006 11:57 PM

i like this attempt Ben. definitely not bad for a first try and you're lucky you have a subject willing to be photographed :)
studio lights are overrated... lol go outside on a nice day and get some great shots. much more natural in my opinion anyway...

LBoy Jan 27, 2006 3:02 AM

What stands out for me most is the somewhat poor crop/framing and aspect ratio for this portrait. Would have been better in portrait with more than just shoulders.

Hair is cut off and line of clothing also.

Pose and feel of model is ok, had it been full or even half body.

ZAKD Jan 27, 2006 7:29 AM


The background is not bad and the focus of her face doesn't desturb from the background, so OK.

Little more of the contrast I think should be done.

The crop was a little to up, so that you cut of her hair and by croping a differantly you would have a more of her in the photo and less background......

Keep shooting....:|


Hards80 Jan 27, 2006 10:09 AM

the biggest things that bother me is the hair and neckline cut off and the uneven parts of the exposure.. i think you could crop off some of the left and right and help out quite a bit.. i'd like to see a bit more hair detail as well..
style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"
style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"using windowlight with a nice big piece of cardboard as a reflector, you can do a lot of great portrait shots.. its a pretty good start, will be looking forward to more!
style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"
style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"-dustin

oBSidian Jan 27, 2006 10:49 AM

Thanks to you all for your insightful critiques and comments. I shall bear them in mind when I next try my hand at portraits (hopefully soon!)

Best wishes,


Mark1616 Jan 27, 2006 11:44 AM

Hey Ben.... I will not make comment as I want to get into portraiture (just waiting for a model) so don't know much about it. What I would say is get the next Amateur Photographer magazine out on the 7th of Feb as it will have 2 reflectors on the cover for free!!! Now that is a bargain..... I have mine booked already.

oBSidian Feb 1, 2006 6:04 AM

Hi Mark,

Thanks v much for the heads up - I'll be sure to pick one up!



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