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Feedback on my first portrait

First of all I have to say that I’m not a big fan of portraits and I don’t enjoy much shooting people. However as part of the assignment of the photography course I am taking I had to submit a Portrait. Following are my very first Portraits. These shots were taken with a Nikon D5100 and a Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR. I don't have any external flash so I had to use the inbuilt flash. I would like to get some feedback on these two images. Thanks

   Beautiful young girl in the woods   

   Beautiful young girl in the woods   
Nikon D5100, Nikkor 18-55, Sigma 17-70 & Adobe Photoshop CSS
Posted: 12/23/2011, 09:42:15 AM
If you're taking a course, does the instructor talk about lighting? Does he provide examples of well known portrait photographers and discuss technique? Have you searched the internet to look what others have done for portraiture?

What makes a portrait INTERESTING? How does LIGHT play a role? How do you POSE the subject? How do you WORK with a subject?

A lot of these things can't be taught, they are learned by experience. You said you're not that interested in shooting people so in the end you are going to gravitate towards what truly motivates you but my suggestion is this: Whatever you learn regarding portraiture will be skills that can apply toward other types of photography.

Keep experimenting, trying new things, and learning from them.

If you've noticed, I haven't commented on the images themselves. What do YOU think about them? Are you happy with them? If not, what can you do to make them better? Eventually you will reach a point to where you're confident with what you're doing, and that is where you want to be.

I associate with photographers who are well known and have credentials yet they still struggle with reaching new levels within the craft. The point is photography is a lifetime of learning and an effort of always trying to improve.
Nikon D800, D100, Canon G15
Posted: 12/23/2011, 12:28:37 PM
Hi, I am not much experienced with portraits, but I will comment anyway.

I think both have an intriguing effect and thats because you are using a wide angle lens that distorts a bit exagerating the perspective, if thats the effect you wanted, great, if not, you would need a longer lens, say, 100mm.

The second one has a good separation to the background, because the subject is clearly separated, but you can still see where she is located, for the first one I think it would be benefitial to have less DOF, either by using a longer telephoto or a larger alerture.
f/4L Canon EF 70-300mm IS/USM f/4-5.6 Canon 100mm f/2.8 USM/Macro ...
Posted: 12/23/2011, 20:02:34 PM
Hi, Lenise. I'm not into portrait shots, as well. But, as far as I'm concerned, I can say that they are unattractive.

What's more, the first one... With that distance, using flash is a suicide. I'm surprised how Dreamstime accepted that, to be honest. It's just a snapshot, I suppose. The shadow of the nose is disturbing, as well. Though, I love shadows. : )

On the other hand, the good thing about second shot, let's say, depth of field. But still, lack of concept. Composition doesn't tell something.

Good luck for your new shots. : )

Posted: 12/24/2011, 16:43:55 PM
Lenise, I think even with the built in flash you can decrease its power so that it fills the dark shadows, but is not so evident, give it a try.

Other option is to use reflectors, they are quite cheap and you might not even need any flash for filling the light at all, and the effect is pretty natural.

If you are into portraits with flash, a good reading is the Hot Shoe Diaries by John Mcnally , its fun and inspirational,

f/4L Canon EF 70-300mm IS/USM f/4-5.6 Canon 100mm f/2.8 USM/Macro ...
Edited: 12/24/2011, 16:53:08 PM
Thanks very much for your help. That was my very first shoot so I didn't expect anything from those photos..Tomorrow I am doing another photoshoot so I will try to follow your tips. I have to use the same equipment (no external flash and I don't have another lens) so less use of flash (or decrease its power)..as regards the aperture that's already the maximum my lens can achieve (f/3.5)..I will try to create a reflector myself..thanks again for your help guys :)
Nikon D5100, Nikkor 18-55, Sigma 17-70 & Adobe Photoshop CSS
Posted: 12/27/2011, 02:38:44 AM
I am not gonna repeat what the other already pointed out, but here are some tips: Even with built in flash you can soften the shadows a bit (with 0 bucks budget) by putting some diffusing material in front of flash - sheet of paper or for example polystyrene dose for fastfood takeaway has a nice and large-enough lid (cca 15x20 cm) that produces wonderful soft light from built-in flash. That lid was my first zero-cost diffuser for built-in flash that made my jaw drop after seeing the difference in shots with and without the diffuser :) (do whiteballance, as the plastics sometimes add a tint to flash light)

And with that lens - try to use 35-55mm focal length range (equivalent of circa 50-85mm) for next portrait - the distortion will be subtle and proportions of her face will look more realistic. (avoid wide-angle) And theoretically - longer focal lengths should have more blurred background at the same aperture (hmmm but at 55 your lens is F/5.6 - that is a lot... :/ )

Good luck and post your next portraits as well...
and editing images :)...
Posted: 01/03/2012, 02:46:07 AM
Have you looked at the work of other photographers, Martin Parr, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Dorothea Lange, Remember if you are doing work for a brief for your photography course not dreamstime.
Posted: 01/04/2012, 11:31:53 AM
First, your model is really stunning. Second, no flash if you are outdoors! Try to play around with natural lighting and different times of day when using people. Your best bet is early morning and late afternoon as the sunlight has a cooler/warmer cast.

My BEST advice to learn how to shoot portraits is for YOU to go in front of the camera and be the model first. That way you can get an idea for both model/photographer roles. It worked for me, and my pics of me are my best sellers, even though I never thought they would be. keep practicing to find out what style you like!
Posted: 01/04/2012, 17:42:25 PM
Does it convey a message?

The 1st one is a snapshot. Overexposed and bad shadow on the nose. (Makes it look big)

Wonder how it got accepoted?

The second is good. Model shows attitude! Overall lighting is better, but the wall background is distracting,. Try moving her more to the left of the tree in the background.

Most of all, keep shooting and have fun!-

2.8, Sigma 24-135. Nikon SB800 SB600 Dell Studio17 Laptop...
Posted: 01/05/2012, 10:38:05 AM
I'm a little into portrait shots, you can take a look at my portfolio if you want. My advices will be a little interesting but try them and you will get better results.

- Use some make up. Human skin likes to shine :)) so you have to keep it free of skin-oil (sorry for my english). Clean her face before taking your shots and use some powder. Especially when you are using flash...

- Keep flash on, even if you are taking an outdoor shot, under natural light. But keep the flash power weaker than natural light. Use it as a "fill light". This way, it won't create harsh shadows, but it will pop your subject.

- When you are using a wide angle lens, keep the body plane of your model, parallel to the film/sensor plane! Wide angle lenses create extreme perspective effects, which makes your model have huge legs or huge head! (If you don't have a special intention, for sure) Look at the second picture, her head is almost equal to her hips!

- Use 50mm - 150mm for portrait shots. Wider lens, wider subject...which means you will use 50mm for a full body shot (just an example) and 150mm for a headshot.

- Use make up :)) (did I mentioned this..no this is different) Eyes are the most important part of a portrait shot, so you have to highlight them.

- (This was said before...and this is the most important part of a "portrait" shot) Have a concept...it is always better to say "why I take this shot?", instead of "Why did I take this shot?". put a story, put a meaning, give the viewer something to look.

- Ask yourself..."What does this girl do in woods, wearing such a nice costume?" Do you get my point? Keep your model and your background harmonic...yes, I know that some fashion magazines like Vogue or others do crazy stuff, like shooting a very elegant girl in the sewer :)) but this is another realm. You have to start with the simplest and go step by step.

Good luck...taking portraits is the hardest part of photography :) have fun...I hope this helps a little. There are many e-books. Just read them and you will catch something...don't hurry :) this is a long journey...
f2.8 - Nikkor 50mm f1.4 - Nikkor 50mm f1.8 - Tamron 90mm f2....
Posted: 01/17/2012, 04:37:30 AM
Given that the composition of the portrait has very strict, you were right to attend a course! I really like your portraits and show your artistic sensitivity! Although you have a flash pop up, you tried to make the light softer and can blur the background as much as possible. In future I suggest you buy a 85mm F 1.4 because you're really good and you would have the opportunity to play with light, focus and composition! For now, that's okay, I saw that you also have a beautiful portfolio, keep it up!

900 --- Photoshop---Illustrator --- - ...
Posted: 01/27/2012, 05:32:15 AM
They look like snapshoots.Sorry
N(Nano Crystal) /AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G IF ED VR /MSI ...
Posted: 01/30/2012, 02:01:22 AM
Just one little tip for taking portrait shots using only a built in flash. In a pinch, (When I have only my small point and shoot camera.) I tape a small piece of white paper over the flash to diffuse the light. It helps with photos for personal use, but I wouldn't recommend uploading portrait shots unless you have the right equipment. Read some of Yuri_arcurs blogs.

Good luck with future images.
photoshop, illustrator, light tent, spots, and lots of imagination an...
Posted: 10/24/2012, 20:34:43 PM
Hi, thanks for sharing. Like others said they are far to be perfect. Love is the first thing you need. If you are doing something you don´t like , that felling pass to image. So this is what i see in that:

- The first image : I never buy this image. That portrait have incredible mistakes and i´m surprise it was been approval in DT. Notice the shadow cause by camera flash in the nose !!! And the skin is a little overexposed . The first limitation you have here is your passion for portrait and the second is your lenses. Dark glass and wide angle zoom. However is possible to make some good things with that. Next time try shoot with zoom in 50mm F4,5, f4 or maximum f5,6 . Put close to the model to have a nice boket . Put some love on it, date with the model for 5 minutes.

- The second : Photograph have rules. They can be used or not if the image give some surprise results without following rules . Here you have shoot the portrait with (i think ) 20mm zoom or close. The head is very big compared to the body. Could result is a good portrait if this was thinking to be a "portrait with super attitude " but the model is boring, boring expression and boring light ... so date with the model, study light conditions, avoid camera flash, use always more that 45mm zoom or a 50mm / 85mm prime .... put some emotion on that model eyes .

One more thing, and very important. Look at the model first , study her face, and take the portrait. If you are study photography i think you will learn that are many ways to photograph faces. Notice the nose of that model.....is a big nose ? or is glass distortion? You can´t take her a picture in 45º or more...never...
You have to take her a portrait looking and staying in front to camera glass. You have to put the light conditions in a way that light takes off all the shadows in face ( a ring flash effect or beauty dish effect ) so in that way the nose pass "undercover"....

Models with a baby skin or little noses are the opposite (for a standart portrait ) . When you have all this in your head....forget the rules and be creative.

Best regards.
Nikon D7000 , Multiblitz studio light, Bowens studio light,
Edited: 10/25/2012, 05:39:55 AM