People and Place

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Active Portrait

I thought about how I was going to get an active portrait when the light and weather aren't great and everyone is away on holiday. I figured indoors would be best. Ideally someone working.  I popped into the Jewish Tailor up the road and asked if he would mind being my model. As you can see he was a very willing model. I asked him to just continue working as usual.  I feel I have captured the look of concentration that really is him.  I've used a high ISO as a flash would have been too distracting and there is too many pieces of cloth the light would bounce off.  Perhaps a reflector would have just put a bit more light onto his face, although I don't mind the shadows here.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Experimenting with light

Using the same person take between four and six photographs using different light.

The days have been consistently grey lately so artificial light will have to be used to meet the brief.

The first portrait (below) was taken in the morning using light from a large window on the model's right side (left looking at the photo) I have used a reflector to reduce the shadows on the other side of her face.

The second image was taken the same day but this time I have a tungsten lamp on the model's right side. A mixture of tungsten and ambient daylight has given a warmer feel to the image. I have adjusted slightly in photoshop.  When I took this portrait tungsten white balance was too blue and daylight was too yellow.  I opted for daylight and adjusted in the raw file.

A couple of days later this was taken in the afternoon. A very grey flat day so I used the yellow wall to add some warmth to the picture.  I took a couple of images just before this one next to a grey wall it was very blue and flat. A very useful bit of knowledge gained here that a coloured wall can be used to reflect some colour back into a picture.

We were still having grey days so for the next image I have used flash and a gold reflector as my light source. To remove any distractions I have used a black backdrop.  I think this portrait would have benefited from a little bit of rim lighting around her hair.

On the morning my model was leaving town we finally had a bit of sunshine and a bit of blue sky so en route to the train station I stopped her in front of the brick wall, the sunlight is shining on her face. I have used a small white reflector to bounce back a little light to reduce the shadows under her chin.
This is my favourite of all the images.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Thinking about location

The brief is to find six very different settings or backgrounds which could be used effectively for whole body or torso portrait.  This is something I do a lot especially for my street people project. I'll look for a dark door or a textured wall. A couple around Kings Cross that I particularly like.  There are several spots at Somerset House that I like depending on the colour of the day.  If it is a bright day I'll seek a place in a park so I can use a tree to block some of the harsh sunlight. If indoors I will look for a window to give me some sidelight. For the picture below I had to take a quick scan around to find somewhere suitable. For these pictures I am taking I don't always get the chance to come back so I have spent time on getting to know spots in the area that aren't too distracting and the light will work. With my street people photos I have to rely solely on ambient light. For this man I didn't have very much time before his friends dragged him away. I had to think quickly and direct him to this wall as we were near a busy intersection. Most of the buildings around were very busy as well. I wanted the focus to just be him.  Fortunately the planter box was empty except for pebbles. By keeping the background as simple as possible I was able to keep the focus on the man, his can of beer and cigarette.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Portrait - Scale and Setting

The brief for this exercise is to take four scales of portrait:
  1. Face, cropped in close
  2. Head and Shoulders
  3. Torso, taking into account arms and hands
  4. Full figure
Also consider the background.

Face, cropped in close

To me an image that is very close on the face is an intimate image. You are connecting with your subject and have to make them feel very comfortable.  I am using a 50ml lens so I am close to my subject.  I also found that the face can distort when you are this close so I chose a very wide aperture (1.4) so I have only the eyes sharp and the rest of the face softly out of focus.  Of the four images I am presenting in this exercise this is the one I like the most.

Head and Shoulders:

Although we were told the eyes should be the main attractant in our images I opted for for an image where this is not the case.  Expression is also very important.  I feel I have captured that moment we can all relate to 'don't let the soap get in my eyes!' I have the fingertips at the bottom of the frame to anchor the portrait. I have used a zoom lens and fill in flash.

I prefer whenever possible to use natural lighting. Which means most of the pictures I take feel more natural. I find it difficult to pose people so would rather have them where they feel comfortable and chat with them until they aren't bothered by the camera.  Here I have used side lighting from a large window and a reflector on the other side to reduce the dark shadows on her face.  Arms and hands present a problem when more of the body is included.  This shot came when we were about to take a break she leant back twirling her hair at the back.  I asked her to hold it and took the shot.  It resolved the problem of what to do with her hands without looking overly posed.

Full Figure

I played around with the full figure I needed a wider angle to get the entire figure in. It is also easier if the model is occupied. Having a prop whatever it is relaxes the person quicker than just standing not knowing what to do with their hands and feet. Taking a full figure i find the hardest to avoid the 'snapshot' look. For this shot I have needed a bit of fill in flash even though it was outside in broad daylight to ensure that her face wasn't to dark and with strong sshadows on her face.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Another Journey

The package from OCA arrived today with my course papers for People and Place. My tutor is Raymond Tomin. Although I still have to hand in my final assignment on The Art of Photography, I've spent the afternoon looking through all I will be doing on this next paper. I'm really looking forward to progressing my skills in portrait photography.  Photographing people is what I enjoy the most.  Looking through the reading and resources recommended i find I already have two of the books.  Time to re-read.  I've ordered two more books that look really good and checked out some of the websites.