Saturday, January 15, 2011

Portraiture session

Went for a recent photoshoot session co-organized by D4M and CM photography, I learned a few things namely:

1) Outdoor Shooting is easy? Think again!

I have always had the perception that outdoor shooting is relatively easier than indoor shooting because lighting conditions would be good, especially when it's a bright day. Oh my... I was certainly proven wrong by the conditions that day - Sunny,hot and humid. "How bad could it be? " you might think.

First of all, the very bright conditons SCREWED my camera's metering system, resulting in totally over-exposed and underexposed images very frequently. At the same time, my white balance was also OUT but luckily I was shooting RAW. I had to constantly dial up and down the exposure compensation, using Av btw, after every shot. And when I've adjusted it already, the next shot again came out underexposed/overexposed. It's because the lighting conditions is so variable to the extent that a slight change in angle(composition) will more often than not, result in such drastic results.

2) Using "fill flash" ?

Looks easy, sounds easy but it's not easy. Balancing flash output with ambient lighting in indoor shooting is always a challenge. But how about balancing flash output with a super duper GIANT overpowering source of Light? Result- your camera Metering system gets OWNED once again. Dial down the Exposure Compensation and use flash to fill up the foreground subject? Didn't work at all... was pain in the a$$ to get the settings right, I was probably spending more time checking my camera than on taking pictures LOL.

And one important thing, I was using a Nissin Di622 Mark 2. It only has a max sync speed of 1/200th sec which is so slow for bright conditions where you would be needing a much faster speed(HSS), because I wanted to use wide apertures of like f/1.8 and f/2.8. Having only a max speed of 1/200 means that I had to dial down the aperture to around f/9 and even worse f/11 to get an "optimum exposure". Remember I said metering was screwed? Had to dial either up or down again, to get the proper exposure.

f/2.8 or f/1.8 is so desirable especially when you want blur out the busy background or there are background elements that you wouldn't want to be in your picture. And also, one of the reasons for shooting @f/2.8 instead of f/1.8 is because as you narrow down the aperture, sharpness increases. Refer here : But I had to use undesired aperture values just to get the so called exposure right.Either this, or I really need a Canon Speedlite which can do HSS(High Speed Sync speed) of around 1/2000th i reckon. I prefer the latter though haha

Using fill flash also often screws up pictures. They came out overly exposed, sometimes not firing at all, underexposed pictures. It's just so Rojak! Same case, I had to keep dialing up and down the Flash Exposure compensation this time + the overall exposure compensation. Now, 2 things to worry about for EACH and EVERY shot. FML =.=

3) Posing and Composition

A good portraiture shot is not only about the photographer, it's about both the photographer and his model. You want a certain type of shot, but your model does not know that. Show/tell her what type of poses you want be it a smile,not smilling, looking away or certain angles like bending towards something, hands crossed or up in the air, etc.

Some shots are nice when the model looks into your lens, however there are some also which are nice even when the model doesn't give eye contact.Normally this types are to give a feel or mood to a certain type of shot. Composition,angles and lighting play a major role in getting that kind of effect

Came across this book before the shoot. Seems pretty good actually, although I dunno what is written there =X


Also, that in portrats, composition is very crucial for getting a good shot. Some tips here:

1)This is most important- What to frame?

Don't just shoot a full body shot with no background at all. That won't make a good picture. You should instead always look out for background elements to add into your frame, to enhance the composition. There's not much skill involved if you're just shooting dead on full body shot. There are always things around to spice up your pictures, so it's up to you as the "painter" to use your creativity.

2) Get your angles right- High?Low?Side?

Best if you experiment, and take many shots from all sorts of angles.And also don't worry that you end up with "rubbish" shots because the more you shoot, the more experienced you become, and therefore you'll have an idea on which angle to tackle =)

To sum up both points above: What to frame + Get your angles right

Which picture do you prefer? Left or Right?

I'll be updating with another post of the pictures I took. Stay tune.

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