Tag: People and Place

OCA People and Place – People Aware: Eye contact and expression/Review a portrait sequence

This exercise involves setting up a portrait session, and taking a sequence of portraits where the subject is looking directly into the camera, or away from it, and using judgement to determine which produces the better image. As with most of these exercises, I asked a member of the family to pose for me – I’m not sure someone that I didn’t know would have the patience. I used a simple set-up, with the camera on a tripod, and a cable release (so easier to talk to the subject and no need to constantly be looking through the viewfinder) and used the same focal length throughout. This set up also meant that I could ensure that roughly the same amount of space was occupied by the subject in each frame. I took these outside with a softbox to brighten the shadows (behind the camera to the right of the subject at about 45 degrees) and a reflector to the left of the subject to even up the lighting on the face. Again using an identical set-up throughout meant that the lighting would be consistent across all of the images. As I knew the subject it was easy to give a bit of direction where needed to make sure I produced a reasonably varied set of photographs in terms of where the gaze was and position of the head.

I did this exercise in conjunction with the next in the course material, which asks for a review of a portrait sequence. The number of asterisks against each image below indicates my rating. As requested in the course notes, I have rated each image as either not good (*), acceptable (**), good (***) and identified what I think is the single best shot (****). I should be upfront and state here that most of the poorer quality images (which were either not sharp enough or there was really obvious flaws such as the subject’s eyes being closed) didn’t make it past my editor. I also had to be selective in what I have posted since some of the differences in expression or pose were very marginal. The course notes suggest that at least 20 images are taken. I had a set of over 70 (I stopped at this as I thought I had exhausted the possible variations but, on reflection, I could have taken more face on with the head straight – and perhaps altered the positioning of the subject in the frame).

The checklist in the course notes is a useful guide for assessing portraits – I mainly concentrated on composition, angle of the head, and facial expression. I’d managed to control for some of the other criteria mentioned through my set-up (e.g. using a plain background so no distractions were behind the subject, making sure nothing else was in the frame so the whole series is simple, and the lighting balance was good due to the use of external light and a reflector as well as ambient light, and the lighting is consistent across the sequence). I took some notes throughout, and started off with some fairly standard portraits with the subject looking into the camera and then a number where the gaze was away to varying degrees (1 through to 7 below). The portraits where the subject is more side on to the camera (8 through to 14) are probably a less typical pose for a portrait. I thought these would be the better shots when I took them and took a fair number with subtle variations to gesture and pose but, after reviewing them, I don’t have enough of the subject’s head in the shot and they look a little awkward (for a further edit I would be inclined to crop so the white space to the right is not so prominent). However, I think these work better than the similar sequence where the other side of the subject’s side of the face is closest to the camera (19-22), perhaps because this position didn’t feel as natural to the subject, and there wasn’t actually much space on this side for her to look into. After reviewing the whole set I would say the better shot is probably where the subject is face on (16). It’s a fairly formal pose but the subject is at ease, with the head to a slight angle.

1. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.***
1. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.***
2. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
2. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
3. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
3. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
4. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
4. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
5. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
5. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
6. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
6. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
7. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
7. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
8. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
8. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
9. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
9. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
10. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
10. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
11. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
11. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
12. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
12. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
13. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
13. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
14. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
14. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
15. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
15. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
16. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.****
16. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.****
17. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
17. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
18. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
18. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
19. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
19. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
20. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
20. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
21. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
21. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
22. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
22. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**

OCA People and Place – People Aware: Thinking about location

The second exercise in the ‘People Aware Module’ of OCA People and Place. It’s about finding different backgrounds for a portrait, either full frame or torso. I found the backgrounds below in a park, hence all were woods, stone, shutters etc. The guidance notes state how ideally backgrounds should have tonal and textural simplicity from edge to edge. The exception to this might be where a subject is deliberately placed to show context of their environment. I settled on the shutter for the background (but taken from with the subject at an angle rather than flat on – and admittedly probably a bit too close) for the portrait as it was the cleanest background and provided a good contrast I thought. I used natural light and a reasonably long focal length of 75mm (equivalent – a 50mm lens on a cropped sensor) to┬álimit distortion of facial features, and a wide aperture of f/2.8 to soften the lines on the shutters.

Brick
Brick
Metal
Metal
Shutter
Shutter
Stone (1)
Stone (1)
Stone (2)
Stone (2)
Wood Panel
Wood Panel
70mm (equivalent). 1/250 second, f/2.8, ISO 200
70mm (equivalent). 1/250 second, f/2.8, ISO 200.

OCA People and Place – People Aware: Portrait Scale and Setting

The first exercise in People and Place asks for four portraits, starting with a close crop of a subject’s face; then scaled to show the subjects’s head and shoulders; then torso (with arms and hands); then full figure. The images below were all taken in one sitting using natural light with the camera mounted to a tripod and using a cable release. For the first two at least, the elements of focus are the face and eyes. In the third, the eye is also drawn to the subject’s hands. With hindsight I might have set the series up differently, so that the light was stronger on the side of the face closest to the camera, but there are later exercises that deal with lighting where I can take alternatives. Likewise I mainly kept focal length at 70mm (apart from the full figure – as it wasn’t practical to distance myself any further from the subject) as other exercises explore the effect of using different focal lengths on a subject.

1. Close. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/2.8, ISO 400.
1. Close. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/2.8, ISO 400.
2. Head and shoulders. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/5.6, ISO 400.
2. Head and shoulders. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/5.6, ISO 400.
3. Torso. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/4, ISO 400.
3. Torso. 70mm. 1/4 second, f/4, ISO 400.
4. Full figure. 44mm, 1/4 second, f/4, ISO 400.
4. Full figure. 44mm, 1/4 second, f/4, ISO 400.