Would appreciate some feedback ...

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Cockpit Colin, Jul 23, 2005.

  1. Hi all,

    I've been experimenting with some indoor portraits - the best I've come up
    with so far is at ...


    (Approx 3.5 Mb)

    Just wondering if anyone would care to take a look - point out my mistakes -
    and give me some pointers?

    It was taken with a Canon 350D / standard 18-55mm lens (pretty much at the
    55mm end), and a Speedlite EX380.

    The aperature was wide open at F5.6 and as I wanted to use the flash in
    "fill in" mode I went for aperature priority, giving 1/4 second exposure @
    100 ISO (used tripod and remote shutter release) (I was using higher isos,
    but wanted to keep the "ISO side-effects" to a minimum. White balance was
    set to 'flash'.

    I haven't corrected the photo in any way (yet) - I know that the temperature
    is off (the wall behind is actually cream coloured) - and I can see the
    shadow to her left (can't do much about it). I wasn't thrilled with the
    focusing, but that's all she's giving at this point in time (hopefully a
    better lens will produce a sharper result).

    Any pointers anyone?

    Many thanks in advance.

    Cockpit Colin, Jul 23, 2005
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  2. I would crop just above the head.
    John Phillips, Jul 23, 2005
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  3. Good idea - unfortunately I only had my laptop handy, with no editing tools

    Thanks for that.
    Cockpit Colin, Jul 23, 2005
  4. Cockpit Colin

    ehurwitz Guest

    It looks sharp to me. Focus should be on the eyes, as you did. Any unsharp
    areas of the picture are due to the limited depth of field.
    ehurwitz, Jul 23, 2005
  5. What's a good aperture for an appropriate DOF when doing portraits? I think
    I recall someone saying nothing less than F5.6? (which is what I shot it

    For doing portrait work would you literally select just one AF point, and
    put that on an eye? or is it usually acceptable just to let the camera
    choose the closest point and let a sufficient DOF take care of the rest?

    I somewhat curious to know how the image would have looked if taken with a
    prime L series lens.
    Cockpit Colin, Jul 23, 2005
  6. Cockpit Colin

    Larry Guest

    That shadow on the wall can be made to go away with anything from using the
    speedight bounced off the cieling to using a dedicated fill light.

    I have two AC powered slaves with stands and umbrellas that only cost $70
    (US) each and do the job nicely.

    Even a little $20 slave on a table top will fill that shadow.

    The 18 -55 lens will sharpen up a bit with more light, and more light is what
    you need for all the faults in the shot as far as I can see.

    Shoot RAW
    Use as much light as you can get unless you are trying to set a special mood
    Dont let the camera make ANY choices for you. You use the flash in MANUAL,
    YOU focus, YOU choose the apeture, YOU choose the shutter speed, and YOU fix
    the white balance/color temperature when converting from RAW.

    If you dont have PhotoShop CS2 Then get Elements (about $90) you really need
    one or the other.. Its a tool of the trade that allows you MUCH more
    Larry, Jul 23, 2005
  7. Thanks Larry,

    I thought initially that the shadow was caused by an overhead room light,
    but I realised afterwards that it's to the left because I had the camera
    rotated 90 deg on the tripod, with the 380EX mounted on top. I'll invest in
    more flash gear fairly soon, but sounds like the best I can hope for in the
    meantime is to ty and do this kind of work when the natural light is as
    bright as possible (rather hard at the moment - it's the middle of winter

    I didn't think of bouncing it off something - I'll try to experiment with

    I'll don't have Photoshop yet, but plan to give the 30 day trial a go
    shortly - so far I've had a quick play with the software that came with the
    camera, but frankly, I can't stand it.

    Like they say "there's no problem that money can't solve!"

    Thanks again.
    Cockpit Colin, Jul 23, 2005
  8. Cockpit Colin

    Pete D Guest

    Lets face it, if you can't get PSCS then you have to get Elements 3.0, now,
    just do it, you know you want to. In the mean time get Irfanview, it will do
    most of what you need for no cost.
    Pete D, Jul 23, 2005
  9. Cockpit Colin

    Paul H. Guest

    1) Bad lighting leading to unpleasant shadows. Shadows in a portrait should
    serve some compositional purpose: they shouldn't just be distracting blobs
    of darkness hanging about the picture.

    2) Terrible background. The checked fabric conflicts with the knitted
    shawl/afghan, both of which clash with the young woman's top. The expanse
    of blank wall is distractingly boring.

    3) Wrong color temperature-- it looks as is the shot was made in ambient
    tungsten lighting with no regard for white balance.

    4) Bad posing of the subject. Except for mug shots, having a portrait
    subject stare intently into the camera's lens is rarely effective.

    5) A little makeup on the facial blemish might have been appropriate.

    6) Combing and arranging the young woman's hair wouldn't have hurt.

    7) I just love the pointlessly-open pocket flap on her right upper arm

    8) through 100) I simply don't have the time to list them all.

    You have a very pretty subject who should make an attractive portrait if
    properly posed and lighted. As it stands now, the portrait looks as if it
    were intended to be delivered to the girl's parents in a stained manila
    envelope, accompanied by a block-printed, crudely-spelled ransom note and
    one of her fingers in a little box.

    Seriously, this is an effort to spam the newsgroup, right?
    Paul H., Jul 23, 2005
  10. Cockpit Colin

    Sheldon Guest

    I find the shot technically okay, but I find the pose to be boring. Look
    directly at the camera, with your body squared up to the lens, and smile,
    doesn't always get you an interesting portrait. Also, if you can pull the
    subject away from the wall and use less depth of field you can virtually
    eliminate the background.

    I recently took a portrait with a borrowed lens (105mm 2.8). The subject
    was sitting on the couch, but I had her turn sideways while I sat on the
    other end of the couch. I tightened up on the face and with plenty of
    distance between her head and the background, the background just fell away.
    Also, no shadows.
    Sheldon, Jul 23, 2005
  11. Cockpit Colin

    CFB Guest

    I feel ok about this:


    I cropped, cloned the blemish away, adjusted the color levels on
    different hues, sharpened slightly, and did some burning and dodging in
    a new layer with an overlay mask at 30%. (I should have taken some shine
    off the right cheek.)

    Get closer to the subject and, as someone said, leave out background
    space and clutter. And yeah, bounce the flash off the ceiling.

    I think if you want to get serious about digital photography you need
    photoshop CS.

    Also, the 350 should have a white balance setting for flash. But you can
    change the film temperature when you look at the RAW into Photoshop.

    I know this sounds like a lot. It is a lot. Be patient.

    CFB, Jul 23, 2005
  12. Cockpit Colin

    G.T. Guest

    That's an improvement but I think the crop is too tight.

    G.T., Jul 23, 2005
  13. Cockpit Colin

    Toa Guest

    meantime is to ty and do this kind of work when the natural light is as
    Where's "here" Colin?

    New Zealand
    Toa, Jul 23, 2005
  14. Cockpit Colin

    Pete D Guest

    South of the equator somewhere I guess.
    Pete D, Jul 23, 2005
  15. Cockpit Colin

    Toa Guest

    South of the equator somewhere I guess.

    Good guess Pete. Not long out of school huh <g>

    Toa, Jul 23, 2005
  16. Where's "here" Colin?
    I'm in Nelson - how about you?
    Cockpit Colin, Jul 24, 2005
  17. I'm the first to admit it's less than desireable, but I don't have anything
    to augment it just yet. I wondering how a couple of 250 watt halogens (on a
    stand) from the local hardware store would go?
    Any tips for a better background that would be readily available in the
    average home?
    Yes, I realised that already. I'll didn't think to experiment with this
    first - but now I've learned something thanks to the group effort - so
    thanks for that. As I mentioned, the backgroud wall is actually cream
    coloured, but I don't have the tools to correct it at hand.
    Not the way it was intended - I actually shot a burst of around 20 shots in
    a short time - many got discarded due to poor photos and gawky expressions -
    this one was the best of the batch. It wasn't an intense stare, just the way
    this particular shot panned out. Personally, I liked the pose in this one.
    Point taken, but it was outside the scope of the exercise (and our available
    equipment) (it's only an experimental exercise - I doubt any will ever even
    get printed)
    Again, not part of the exercise (yet) - will keep it in mind though.
    Same as above.
    The first 7 were great - many valuable things for this amatuer to consider -
    thank you for those.
    Lol - actually just a friend of my daughter who likes having her photo
    taken - and hence an opportunity for me to go from (hopefully) the "roll
    over" to the "just starting to crawl" stage of my photographic hobby (I
    usually fly aeroplanes for a hobby - the aircraft I love, it's just some of
    the people around them that I can't stand!)
    Seriously? I was quite surprised by your comment. I'm the first to admit
    that I'm at the bottom end of a steep learning curve - on the other hand I'm
    a smart guy who learns fast and doesn't have an ego that stops me asking for
    help from others who are better at this than I am - hence the reason for my
    post. I'm surprised that wasn't / isn't more obvious to you.

    Thanks again for your input - much appreciated.
    Cockpit Colin, Jul 24, 2005
  18. Cockpit Colin

    Toa Guest

    I'm in Nelson - how about you?

    Auckland here. I don't often get through that way but plan on it some time
    early March

    Toa, Jul 24, 2005
  19. Cockpit Colin

    Toa Guest

    I'm not. Having been around various newsgroups over the years I've seen
    various folk with various approaches to life. Some are helpful, some not
    and some are a mix of both. You've stumbled across the latter. It's the
    old story about wheat and chaff and having to sort one from the other

    Toa, Jul 24, 2005
  20. I find the shot technically okay, but I find the pose to be boring. Look
    It was actually one of a burst of about 20 - I was mostly working on "part
    A" (ie getting lighting / focus / DOF etc good) rather than "part B" (pose /
    makeup / hair etc). I only have a 18-55mm lens - the first series I shot
    were from about 2m away, but when I zoomed in on the face and shoulders I'd
    lost too much detail, so I moved the camera in to about 1m and got the
    results you see. As someone mentioned, a good crop would help a lot - but I
    didn't have any tools handy to do it.
    I'll have to give that a try as well.
    Cockpit Colin, Jul 24, 2005
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