What setup do you use on people?

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Randy W. Sims, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. Most specifically do you use filters? I don't have any filters yet, but
    I'm looking at some polorazing filters for landscapes, etc. I'm just
    wondering if filters work when taking posed and candid shots of people.

    Also any good books or info on shooting people in general: posing,
    lighting, etc. Not just studio but candids and posed indoor & outdoor
    photos.

    I want to take some outdoor posed family photos in the next month or
    two. I have a Nikon D70 kit, SB800. Looking at the Nikor 50mm f/1.4D.
    Also wondering about a B+W Kaesemann Circular Polarizer Glass Filter (or
    B+W Warm Circular Polarizer Skylight KR-1.5 Glass Filter?). Just not
    sure about mixing filters and people since I have no experience with
    filters.

    Thanks,
    Randy.
     
    Randy W. Sims, Jul 5, 2005
    #1
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  2. Randy W. Sims

    Sheldon Guest

    There are lots of books on portraits, and everybody seems to have their own
    favorite techniques. I like to use an 85mm 1.8 focused on the eyes but
    fairly wide open to blur the background. I also like to use natural window
    light and shoot indoors, although I'm getting the hang of using a fill flash
    for outdoor work. No filters or gimmicks of any kind. No multiple lighting
    systems.

    The SB800 will do a great job outdoors, even in daylight, and I doubt you
    will need anything more than the kit lens, unless you want a shallow depth
    of field. Can't see why you would want any filters, although a polarizer is
    great for landscapes.
     
    Sheldon, Jul 5, 2005
    #2
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  3. Randy W. Sims

    stacyreeves Guest

    I don't really use any filters anymore, with the exception of
    polarizers and UV/Haze, because Photoshop can do all those fancy tricks
    for me. I do portraits with my 50mm 1.8 II, usually at 2.5 or below.

    What I did invest in were some brushed silver and gold reflectors and a
    huge diffuser, so I can shoot anywhere at pretty much any time of day
    and still get the right amount of sun that I want. They do require
    having an assistant though, so if you're on your own, maybe they're not
    the best choice just uet.
     
    stacyreeves, Jul 5, 2005
    #3
  4. Randy W. Sims

    Frank ess Guest

    I use my patio as an outdoor studio, and old tripods and other
    skyhooks to hang or position reflectors and diffusers. I'm looking
    forward to using actual "stands" designed to do that work, but it
    looks like a couple hundred dollars away at the moment.
     
    Frank ess, Jul 5, 2005
    #4
  5. Randy W. Sims

    Owamanga Guest

    Skyhooks? isn't that one of those imaginary things teachers would send
    kids off to the supply office to ask for:

    "TRENTON!, Stop mucking about, go to supplies and ask for a 2 medium
    weights or one long weight."

    After 20 minutes, supplies office would tell him he's waited long
    enough and could return to the class looking very stupid.

    Another favorite:

    "BISHOP!, Stop doing that, it's a FIRE HAZARD!"

    "Fire hazard Sir?" looking up from busily kicking the chair in
    front...

    "Yes, coz if you don't stop it, I'll SET FIRE TO YOU!"
     
    Owamanga, Jul 5, 2005
    #5
  6. Randy W. Sims

    Owamanga Guest

    I'm no pro, but generally, I don't think you'll need special filters
    for this. Do use the SB800 for fill-flash, even in bright sunny
    conditions - practice first and check the EXIF data when you review
    the results to see what works. Keep the lens towards the 70mm end and
    step-back for portrait work.

    Usually, I'd set the flash EV to -0.7 or -1.0 when filling in
    otherwise good light. Drop it further based on the LCD preview results
    - your distance has a large affect on this. Also if using direct-flash
    to fill (eg, no bouncing) use the diffuser that comes with it.

    Buy a large white foam-core board and use it as a reflector,
    positioned somewhere in the lower arc of the subject. Position it so
    it illuminates some of the worst shadow areas.

    The SB800 works well in bounce-flash mode if indoors and either a
    white wall or ceiling is available. If bouncing from the ceiling, pull
    out the little white catch-light card, so it throws some light
    forwards for the eyes to reflect.

    Only use slow sync mode if you are trying to capture ambient light in
    low-light conditions (or some movement, such as a kid waving a
    sparkler) - I'd suggest rear-slow for this. This does bring it's own
    set of problems for good results, the need to keep the subject and
    camera still is one of them.

    Do some shots with a tripod, and others where you get onto the floor
    or onto a short ladder to add some intersest/dynamics to the photo.

    There is no one right-way. Lots of things work, some things work for
    some faces, and not for others. Harsh single-source lighting can be
    good for men, soft multi-source lighting better for women. But one's
    own opinion has the greatest impact to which is the best way for a
    given subject/situation.

    Girls with long hair can be backlight (eg, at sunset put their head so
    it obscures the sun, now hit them with some fill-flash and dial it
    down until the balance looks good on the LCD). I took some cool
    portraits of my kid yesterday at the fireworks pre-show by laying down
    on the floor and shooting directly up towards the sky. Evening
    lighting plus some flash is cool.

    For really moody lighting, use a fairly dark room and put the SB800
    into slave mode, off to one side of the subject, either bouncing on a
    wall or small white card - or even facing directly at the subject. The
    closer you put the SB800 and the less diffused/bouncing the source of
    light, the harsher the shadows will be on the face.

    Just some ideas - the most important thing is to play a lot, and
    investigate the successes as to why they worked.
     
    Owamanga, Jul 5, 2005
    #6
  7. The test shots I've taken so far have mostly had some sky showing;
    Basically, lots of greenery in the bottom 2/3 and sky in the top 1/3,
    but that is just avarage-not something I specifically framed for.
    Usually, I don't like the results of the photos that I have taken that
    have sky showing--everything looks hazy, very little or poor coloring of
    the sky. I don't know if I need a polarizer to "clean up" the light, an
    ND to compress the spectrum, a skylight to saturate the colors, or just
    practice more to get better exposures. Or some combination. I also don't
    know how filters affect skin tones, etc.

    Thanks,
    Randy.
     
    Randy W. Sims, Jul 5, 2005
    #7
  8. Great stuff. Thanks.

    The only thing I'm a little unclear on is the use of the foam-core
    board. Are these what you are referring to:
    <http://www.artgrafix.com/boards.htm> ? And can you describe their usage
    a bit more.

    Thanks,
    Randy.
     
    Randy W. Sims, Jul 5, 2005
    #8
  9. Now that's an image. I think your caution is justified. Mounting a
    person on top of a filter is likely to cause severe vignetting. :)
     
    Ben Rosengart, Jul 6, 2005
    #9
  10. Randy W. Sims

    Frank ess Guest

    Pirouetting. He means "pirouetting".
     
    Frank ess, Jul 6, 2005
    #10
  11. Randy W. Sims asked:
    "Well, here I am, Baby. What were your other two wishes?"

    oh...
     
    Bob Harrington, Jul 6, 2005
    #11
  12. Ok, so that is one of the worst subject lines I've come up with yet, and
    I deserve what I get with the whacky answers...

    Randy.
     
    Randy W. Sims, Jul 6, 2005
    #12
  13. Randy W. Sims

    Owamanga Guest

    That's the stuff.

    They are inexpensive (buy single sheets at your local office-supply
    store), easy to get hold of, come in many colors (most useful are
    white and black), lightweight, can be cut to size if needed and are
    stiff (eg, better than a paper reflector).

    Get an 'assistant' to hold the reflector (white foam board) so that it
    bounces some of the ambient light back towards the subject, allowing
    you to control the illumination of the face a lot better. The key to
    photography is lighting, and this is part of lighting. The reflector's
    job is to try and kill some of the darkest shadows (under eyes/chin
    etc)

    Ceilings and white walls and even some floors make good reflectors
    too, but you can't easily grab them and move them around like you can
    a piece of foam board.

    Black foam board can be used to provide a background for shooting
    single flowers against, or used to block unwanted direct light that is
    hitting the subject (white foam board can also be used for the latter
    - it will actually diffuse direct sunlight).

    Of course, you can splash out $30-$100 on 'proper' photographic
    reflectors, that come in silver, gold, white constructed a bit like
    those amazing tents that set themselves up - and fold up again into a
    little circle.

    eg:
    http://www.photography-lighting.com/reflectors.html

    Or, $3 for a piece of foam board, $3 for a can of spray-paint and you
    can make a reflector of any color..gold, silver, whatever. (BTW, spray
    *both* sides of foam-board if you do this, otherwise it'll buckle as
    the paint dries and become concave, which isn't much use...)

    Bigger the better with the foam board. Here's an example of a pro
    using a pro reflector:

    http://www.geofflawrence.com/lighting_refletors.htm

    and another (this one is at South Beach, Florida, the model is the
    girl in yellow, long lenses and camera distance makes more flattering
    portraits) :

    http://www.photo.net/photo/pcd0161/photo-sneer-8.jpg

    Check your local bookstore for books on lighting, they'll often have
    diagrams like the one below showing you the placement of light
    source(s) vs reflector vs subject vs camera.

    http://www.thestudio-online.co.uk/tutorial.php?tutorial_id=5

    ....and some general lighting guides grabbed from google:
    http://bermangraphics.com/coolpix/lighting_diagram.htm
    http://www.greatdv.com/lighting/darkskin.htm
    http://www.finetuning.com/articles/p0-484-tips-for-creating-expressive-portrait-photographs.html
    http://www.photo.net/making-photographs/light
    http://www.photographic.com/portraittips/lightingtechniques/204portrait/
    http://www.dcmag.co.uk/news/article/mps/UAN/187/v/3/sp/332251698183342302338
    http://www.dpchallenge.com/tutorial.php?TUTORIAL_ID=31
     
    Owamanga, Jul 6, 2005
    #13
  14. Randy W. Sims

    Lionel Guest

    I can't think of a single reason to ever use a filter when shooting
    people with a DSLR. Correcting colour casts is trivial to do when you're
    processing your photos on your computer, & colour-correction is pretty
    much the standard reason for using filters when shooting 'people shots'.
    Just about any problem you're likely to run into when photographing
    people is going to come down to lighting, & whole books have been
    written on that topic. Spend some time reading some of the websites that
    Owamanga recommended in his reply to you, & you'll probably find it a
    lot easier to get good results.
     
    Lionel, Jul 6, 2005
    #14
  15. Randy W. Sims

    zeitgeist Guest

    You don't get instant good, or even better, pictures by buying filters,
    anymore than you can run a filter in photoshop and get 'art.' OTOH, they
    probably won't hurt much.

    google joseph zeltsman for an excellent tutorial on posing and lighting,
    though the samples are very dated looking the info is first rate as it
    articulates quite well the WHY of posing and lighting a particular face this
    way instead of that, it teaches you a logical system of making decisions.
     
    zeitgeist, Jul 9, 2005
    #15
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