Daily Photo: 18/09/13 - Itchy Face [Street]

Technical Information:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.8 II
ISO200, f/5.6, 1/400s
Location: Public Gardens, Halifax, NS
Process: Apple Aperture for RAW processing, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 for Black and White conversion.

Shot from the hip, I barely expected to have a shot in focus.  I simply LOVE the gesture.   

Headshots for the Sackville Photo Club

Seeing as how I've been borrowing the Sackville Photo Club's lighting equipment for various photo shoots lately, it seemed fair that one of the organizers of the last meeting asked me to bring along my camera to do some portraits for the incoming executive team.  What I didn't expect was that I would shoot basically the entire team!  

Not that it would be a technical problem (one light setup for everyone), but I knew that the challenge was in getting a useable shot from each member of the executive that they were happy with.   I basically had about five minutes with each person, which is hardly enough time.  Luckily, I know most of the people anyway so getting a fairly natural looking headshot wasn't too painful.

Here are some important things to remember if you are getting a headshot done for a professional package, such as business cards, company publications etc.
  1. Relax.  Deep breath.  It's only a picture, and the photographer is there to help make you look your best.  When they tell you to tip your head back, or to the side, it's not to torture you, it's to help you look good!
  2. If you want to smile, think of something you think is funny, or try to remember something that will help you feel good.  
  3. If the photographer is operating in a space where you can see the process, observe it.  Watch how the photographer interacts with their sitter, what kind of actions are expected.  It makes it so much easier if you walk into a set with a clear idea of how it works and what you might want to try.  
  4. Don't be afraid to have a little fun.  As I said before, you're only getting your picture taken.  
  5. If you know you'll have your photos done, be sure to wear your favourite shirt, jewelry or other items that will help you feel more confident.
  6. Guys: Shave.  If you have a beard, trim it.  
  7. Girls: Makeup shouldn't be overdone, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't wear any.  The camera can be ruthless on skin, so feel free to do foundation, cover up, and some clean mascara (no clumps).  
There are tons of resources online for how best to prepare for shoot, but I wanted to cover some basics.  

If you're interested, here is the lighting setup used on the photos above.  As you can see, it's a three-light setup with a softbox as my key, umbrella fill on the right and a gridded deep reflector acting as a rim/hair light.  For the photos, I shot exclusively with the 85mm lens, somewhere around f/8. 

Portraits: Scott and Megan

First up, sorry for not having a post mid-week, I've had family visiting all week and have been trying to entertain as well as keep up with photos.  I will do a make-up a post for the weekend.

My brother, Scott and his girlfriend Megan were visiting us for the first time in our new place and they were excited to get some new couples portraits taken. I was happy to help them out and we headed over to Point Pleasant park to find a cool place for photos.

Traffic (and my navigation skills) put us a little behind schedule and we were losing light pretty quickly.  I did a few photos with the reflector but I wasn't getting the quality of light that I needed and the sun kept diving behind clouds every once in a while, keeping me from getting a good reflected light.  It was time to bust out some flashes.

Setup shot of the lighting, complete with a voice activated lightstand, Scott!  Photo by Jess Lingley 

I did a few portraits of Megan to get my feet wet with the flash and using the Ezybox softbox I got some pretty nice results.  I took out the 50mm prime lens after getting a couple wide angle photos and dialed it in to 1.8.  I got a really beautiful focal range on Megan's face, allowing her eyes and cheeks to be in great focus, but by her ears a beautiful bokeh was forming.  I used natural light on this shot as the sun peeked back out from behind the clouds.

The Nifty Fifty is at it again, giving a really nice plane of focus at a great focal length. 

Having gotten a few really nice images of Meg, I turned my attention to getting some couples shots.  We found a really cool structure in Fort Ogilvie where I set up some really dramatic and artistic light to really focus attention on the couple.  I think it turned out okay, but after seeing the results from a bare flash head I think a beauty dish would provide even more drama while keeping the light even where it needs to be.

I processed the image through Nik Software to add some punch to it and I really like the result!  As a couples photo it does seem a little dramatic, but it's eye-grabbing!

Scott and Meg have so much fun together!

Finally, we got some really nice sunset photos after putting a warming gel on the flash.  The Ezybox was used again on this shot to really pop some warm, smooth light on Scott and Meg.  The result is a really simple, but dramatic portrait with sunset lighting the background and smooth wrapping light on the couple.

I look forward to getting these printed, I think they'll look absolutely awesome in frames!

Cheers, More tk...

Portraits, so far

Beyond Lighting and Technique

I've never found portraits to be that easy. In fact, I've picked up a few tips on portraiture over the last week from watching Scott Kelby's The Grid, specifically the episodes with Joe McNally and Peter Hurley. Each of these guys have a tremendous amount of experience and come from different backgrounds, but offer very important advice.

Nick, a good friend of mine needed some more professional photos for social media and the jobhunt.  I offered to help him out and get some good lighting experience as well.

When it comes to photographing people, the technical part of the job is done before you even touch the camera.  

Essentially, you've got the model/subject, you have a background, lights, camera, etc.  So, what now?  Now it's time to get a connection with the person on the other side of your lens. You might, as Peter Hurley discusses, have to become part photographer, part psychologist.  I think I find this the most difficult part of photography, but one of my favorite.  This is my chance to get behind the mask that people put on, where smiling certainly isn't necessary and the experience you share will wind up immortalized.  

Tom, shot near Odell Park in Fredericton.  We used the graffiti on the wall to add an interesting background to the photo, something that Tom could use on more 'personal' type social media sites.

That all sounds very zen, but it's quite true. Take, for example, a portrait session I did with someone I just met that afternoon.  Tom, an investment professional, was looking for some classy portraits to use on social media sites, company websites, etc.  I made sure to provide two locales, one with a simple black background, and another, more creative outdoors type background.  Frankly, I prefer the outdoors background but I'm always looking for things of visual interest.   The ulterior motive to having two sets was that we would have time to get to know one another a little bit, and asking Tom to move his head a certain way, or smile, but only just a little would be easier for him to do.  The more comfortable the subject, the better the portraits will look. 

After we got through the 'nice' photos, Nick and I decided that while the lights were up we should have some fun.  I think the images with the sunglasses are my favorite from the day, and just shows how props and good interaction between the subject and photographer lead to better portraits.

Something else I learned was the importance of the jawline.  I hadn't really spent much time on portraiture posing techniques, but after listening to Peter Hurley discuss the way he treats a jawline in his headshots, I'm beginning to think about it a lot more.  Until now, it's been one of those things that eluded me, or that appears in the portraits I like, but not the ones I don't.  I won't try to explain the reasoning, but go watch the video that Peter did on Scott Kelby's Blog and you'll be amazed. 

I have a lot of work to do to get my portraits to a higher level.  These guys have been at it a long time, and I've only just begun.   I think that of the specialities I've tried, My work in portraiture so far has been some of my most rewarding.  

I could have improved this self portrait tremendously by bringing my ear a bit closer to camera and accentuating the good parts of my jawline.  I'll do better next time.

More tk...