Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learning some new portrait techniques. . .

Whimsy
Monochrome conversion of Whimsy
Contemplation
Wistful?
A little more traditional, but she didn't like this shot. . .
Got a picture of a silly smile. . . 
Our favorite from the other night's twilight shoot. . .
I have been doing a LOT of reading about portraiture lately.  I started out last month by finally sitting down and poring over Joe McNally's wonderful book, The Hot Shoe Diaries.  I ended up reading it completely TWICE, because as he explains: it really isn't so much a manual as things that have worked for him in his life as a photographer.  So he doesn't really detail each technique exactly, but after reading the book and my favorite tutorials a few times, it began to sink in.  

I purchased a small softbox (16"x16") and a light stand that I can use with my hot shoe flash, to get it off the camera and be able to have light come from other directions than simply the top of my camera, which can give a photographer more professional results.  

The technique, or Strobist information, a la David Hobby's wonderfully informative blog on off-camera flash photography, Strobist, is fairly simple once one gets the hang of it.  I know there are far more complicated lighting setups and I will definitely try those out as I learn more, but I was thrilled with the simple results I received over the last two days.  

The first set of pictures with the black background was taken yesterday afternoon, in a makeshift studio set up in my office.  The last picture was taken two nights ago at twilight, and was directly from a technique Joe McNally talks about in which one sets the camera in Tungsten White Balance to retain the deep, jewel-toned blue of the twilight sky behind the subject, and places a colored piece of plastic (in this case a Rosco Strobist Collection 1/4 CTO/Orange gel) over the flash to bring some warmth to the skin tones of the subject.  

I was very happy with the results and am interested to do more experimentation!  However, my "model" only gives me about 5-10 minutes of her time at this point, in between homework and playtime, so I don't get an awful lot of practice time.  

Hope you like the pictures!  Best wishes, Cindy

4 comments:

Nikhil said...

I love all except the one your model (your daughter?) didn't like. A substantial part of the credit goes to your model, because she livens up the photos nicely.

Her expression in the one she didn't like looks fake (the smile doesn't go to her eyes) and the difference is readily apparent because the candid laugh below it is so much better.

As far as the lighting goes I think you have made a great start. I have been finding it quite difficult to adjust to flashes although I use both of the references you do. You are helping to inspire me to try harder though. Particularly as using additional lighting was supposed to by my task for this year.

Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld said...

Thanks Nik! Yes, I agree about the fake smile one--I just wanted to post it to show the one she didn't like. . .

I also agree with the difficulty of figuring out flashes. I've read a LOT of other books on the subject as well, and Joe McNally's has served to inspire me the most to try his various techniques, but the other books have actually detailed the techniques a bit better. . .

Sus said...

Well done for being new at off-camera flash! I really like the very last shot, twilight pic.

Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld said...

Thanks Sus! Yes, the last shot is my fave, too!

Cindy

Cindy
welcome to my world!

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