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Old Oct 23, 2015, 1:00 AM   #1
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Default Maternity/Family Photos

I had a friend of mine allow me to take a few maternity & family photographs.

I took the advice of another forum member, and used photos from other photographers that I had downloaded onto my cell phone.

I had a great time with them, but I walked away with one lesson well learned... When there are going to be small children involved, be sure to have someone on hand to help with them! (If at all possible, of course.)

The photo of her holding her youngest son was spontaneous. He was running around, and she scooped him up as he ran by with a big smile on her face.

Shot with Canon Rebel T5 with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Edited in Photoshop CS3.

My main focus was composition. That is also a BIG challenge that I've been facing. The other issue I've been struggling with is clarity.
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Old Oct 27, 2015, 3:27 PM   #2
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A couple of comments.
1) As a general rule, I try to avoid having a subject pressed against a background (such as in #1). I understand that space is sometimes limited, but it can be difficult to get separation between the foreground and background.
2) I find these shots a touch soft, I'm guessing that you were shooting close to f1.8, I think these would have punched better at a slower aperture (perhaps around f4 or f5.6).
3) It could be my (crappy) monitor at work, but to me, these shots feel like they're lacking saturation. There's lots of colour available, but nothing pops
4) With a family shot, I'd like to see a touch more "closeness" in the family. In the first shot especially, I think the group would have felt more tied together had the the couple been closer together, with the children in front.
5) The first shot feels over-processed, the white balance seems to be out as the father's shirt looks blue rather than white (like pic #3)
6) I'm not sure how the original frames looked, or what the sun was like, but it looks like an overcast day or the sun was behind the wall (lack of shadows behind the subjects). Perhaps a bit of flash would have helped prevent the subjects from washing against the background (Pic #1 and to a lesser degree #2).

The last picture is by far my favourite, good separation for the subject, the tight crop works with the pose, the colours are almost spot-on.

Keep shooting, everything will come together, you're definitely on the right track! Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by conor; Oct 27, 2015 at 3:30 PM.
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Old Oct 27, 2015, 4:04 PM   #3
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Thank you for the feedback Conor!
The dad's shirt is actually blue. I didn't realize that I had adjusted the color so much. (It was an overcast day.) I started to use custom white balance, but I was so afraid that I had done it wrong. I have GOT to stop doing that.
Actually, I don't think it's your monitor. Pictures uploaded on this site versus opened in Photoshop or uploaded onto a different site, always come up lighter and lack color here. I'm not sure if there is something I am doing wrong when I load them here or what it is, but they are vibrant everywhere else. Any suggestions?
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Old Oct 28, 2015, 10:33 AM   #4
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Pictures uploaded on this site versus opened in Photoshop or uploaded onto a different site, always come up lighter and lack color here. I'm not sure if there is something I am doing wrong when I load them here or what it is, but they are vibrant everywhere else. Any suggestions?
If you're shooting RAW, perhaps you're making an error in the conversion process (and not saving / exporting the processed image correctly)... Just a guess, perhaps one of the others around here might have more insight.

Am I correct to assume that most of these shots were quite a bit darker before you started working on them (i.e., the shots straight off the camera were under-exposed)?
Was I roughly correct that you were shooting wide open?

Also, a thought about the pose, in pic #3, if his right hand had been where hers is, with hers right on top, it could have made for a more intimate photo of the expecting couple.

Last edited by conor; Oct 28, 2015 at 10:38 AM.
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Old Oct 28, 2015, 1:37 PM   #5
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If the photos you load to this site are larger (file size and/or pixel dimensions) than the site limits, they get resized by the site's software, and this often leaves them a bit soft. I haven't noticed any problems with brightness or color - it may depend on the browser you use, as to how they are displayed.
First picture is a nice family portrait, and I would only have a couple suggestions. Having everyone's heads a bit closer to the same level, such as with the parents seated, might be nice. The husband's shirt is the brightest thing in the frame, and slightly overexposed, creating a distracting element.
Second picture is adorable. Great capture of the expressions.
Third picture has better control of the highlights on the faces and the blurred background looks good.
It appears that you might be using skin smoothing tools in post process, and the software isn't getting it done quite right. Taking over and doing it by hand may provide better results, though it can be tedious, and takes a good bit of practice.
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Old Oct 29, 2015, 2:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conor View Post
If you're shooting RAW, perhaps you're making an error in the conversion process (and not saving / exporting the processed image correctly)... Just a guess, perhaps one of the others around here might have more insight.

Am I correct to assume that most of these shots were quite a bit darker before you started working on them (i.e., the shots straight off the camera were under-exposed)?
Was I roughly correct that you were shooting wide open?

Also, a thought about the pose, in pic #3, if his right hand had been where hers is, with hers right on top, it could have made for a more intimate photo of the expecting couple.
Yes, they were under-exposed.
You are correct, I was shooting wide open. Is that only good for single subjects?

I love your suggestion about their hands. Thank you for that! I will be sure to apply it the next time I use this pose.
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Old Oct 29, 2015, 2:30 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
If the photos you load to this site are larger (file size and/or pixel dimensions) than the site limits, they get resized by the site's software, and this often leaves them a bit soft. I haven't noticed any problems with brightness or color - it may depend on the browser you use, as to how they are displayed.
First picture is a nice family portrait, and I would only have a couple suggestions. Having everyone's heads a bit closer to the same level, such as with the parents seated, might be nice. The husband's shirt is the brightest thing in the frame, and slightly overexposed, creating a distracting element.
Second picture is adorable. Great capture of the expressions.
Third picture has better control of the highlights on the faces and the blurred background looks good.
It appears that you might be using skin smoothing tools in post process, and the software isn't getting it done quite right. Taking over and doing it by hand may provide better results, though it can be tedious, and takes a good bit of practice.
brian
I agree with you. There is something I'm doing in post-production that is making them softer. I just don't know what that might be... I didn't use any skin softening tools on these. I adjusted brightness, contrast, color balance, and saturation. I also brightened their teeth a little. Would one of those be the issue?
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Old Oct 29, 2015, 9:20 AM   #8
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In your first shot, the stones just in front of the subjects seem to have sharp edges, and in the last, the fabric of his pants leg appears to be pretty sharp. It may be that your lens is front focusing a bit, and that is what is causing the softness. It might be worthwhile to try some tests. It may also be that by pushing the exposure, you are losing detail in the brighter areas, as the softer parts seem to be the brighter ones.
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Old Oct 29, 2015, 11:47 AM   #9
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Yes, they were under-exposed.
You are correct, I was shooting wide open. Is that only good for single subjects?
Attachment 205421

Assuming you were 20 feet from your subject, your DOF is only 3'4" at 20 feet. At 10 feet from your subject, your DOF is only about 9".
Generally speaking, lenses get soft when they're wide open (other issues typically exist when they're as closed as possible). I personally try to shoot at f4 (minimum) for most portrait work, and often upwards of f11 when in studio.

DOF Calculator:

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Would you consider posting the original RAW files for pics #1 and #3?
I think many of the issues are related to the conversion and the post production. If I had to guess, you played with the colour balance, contrast, brightness, and exposure sliders until you saw improvement. I'd posture that you likely saved the incremental changes, many of which undid parts of what the previous change did, causing loss over time. Just like....

Quote:
Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
It may also be that by pushing the exposure, you are losing detail in the brighter areas, as the softer parts seem to be the brighter ones.
brian

Last edited by conor; Apr 21, 2016 at 10:13 AM.
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