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Old Jul 3, 2006, 7:49 AM   #1
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This is my first moderately serious attempt at family portraits, taken in my loungeroom with some desk lamps for mood lighting. The group shot was taken on a self timer. My sister-in-law now wants me to photograph her family so I'd like to know anything I can improve.

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Old Jul 3, 2006, 7:50 AM   #2
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Old Jul 4, 2006, 6:16 AM   #3
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i think they are very nice shots mate

i like the b&w and its incredible how sharp they are with such a slow shutter. 1/2. i thought i was slow shooting at 1/10. good on ya mate

i like this shots. lighting is very dynamic.

depending on what sort of end product you are after i would suggest trialing the shots with differing softness levels and see how they come out. In this instance i really like the sharp results.

great work

ken


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Old Jul 4, 2006, 7:55 PM   #4
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Thanks for your comments Ken. My biggest challenge in this exercise was the slow shutter speed I needed without having a professional lighting setup. I tried using the on-camera flash but that blew away any of the nice light and shadow effects I had with the side-on lights.

Ollie
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Old Jul 4, 2006, 10:48 PM   #5
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A lower power fill light in the front would reduce the shadows in their eye sockets & give their eyes a more centered sparkle (catchlights), improving the image. Also, if using a dark background (in B&W), you want them in lighter colored clothing (seperating them from the darkness).
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Old Jul 5, 2006, 7:15 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice Kalypso. That's just what I needed.

Ollie :-)
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Old Jul 5, 2006, 8:23 AM   #7
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Hello Ollie,

Your portraits aren't lacking good fill light. You have plenty of lighting, but the placement is bad. In the group shot, the overhead lighting is creating the shadows on the eyes. If the overhead light(hair light) were better controlled, then you would have a nice hair light that only lights the hair. Only 1 light should create shadows. Anything else is an accent light or used for fill.

Your key light or main light is too far to the subject's right(camera left). Next time you shoot a portrait, let the catchlights guide you. If the catchlights are at about 11 o'clock, then you have the placement pretty good. For simplicity, place the fill light if used directly above the lense, but behind enough that it doesn't cause glare in the lens. If using household lighting a lamp with a shade works well at diffusing the light.

The dark clothing for a dark background is ideal because you eliminate possible distractions. Here, you either need a touch of light on the background or the shoulders of the subject to provide some separation.

Thanks for sharing.

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Old Jul 5, 2006, 2:17 PM   #8
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I don't know much about portraiture, only what I like or don't like.

For my tastes, the dark clothing blending into a dark background with just the family's faces standing out just doesn't work for me, even if the idea is to make their faces the center of interest.

I realize that this kind of low key work is very popular.

But, for my tastes, it doesn't portray a sense of a happy family together. It's just too dark of a look, with too much contrast between the faces and the dark clothing blending into the background.

So, I'd go along with Kalypso on the lighter clothing if I were doing it. Perhaps not something like a dress with flowers (like one of the girls is wearing), because the flowers could be a distracting element. But, something relatively plain and light.

In my thinking, that would portray the family more as a single unit, versus individual faces peering out of the darkness, and would give a sense of happiness, more so that the faces alone would portray.


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Old Jul 6, 2006, 9:14 AM   #9
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Rodney and Jim,

Thanks heaps for your thoughtful comments. They have given me lots to work with next time.

Cheers,
Ollie
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