What I learned in my Digital Photography Class, Part 5
Our instructor started us right out with portraits. He said that for some reason, when people take photos of people, they seem to want to get everything in the world into the shot, leading to lots of extraneous details and background busyness, with a tiny little figure somewhere in the middle. Just like this one, which (in my defense) was actually shot to give an idea of the immensity of the desert:
He told us that when we are taking a photo of someone, we should move in, then move in some more. It felt odd at first, and my first portrait shots taken in class reflected my unease.
The next tip he offered was to focus on the eyes. Frame your shot, zero in on the eyes, then press the shutter halfway down to focus properly.
The next step was an interesting one. Keeping your shutter depressed halfway in order to keep the correct focus, shift the camera so that the subject is off center for a more interesting composition. Then take your shot.
You can also use a bit of fill flash to take out shadows on a person's face (see the previous post, On the Subject of Light). On the other hand, you might want the light coming from one side, leaving the other side of the subject's face in relative darkness.
Here is a later portrait shot I took, when I had some time to digest all the new information coming at me in class. I'll have you know that I set up this shot manually, setting the ISO, the aperture, and the shutter speed myself. No more automatic stuff for me!
This is all so interesting. I am going to try some of the stuff you have written about. I love the photo you took on this post. It is just great. Sounds like this class will pay off and was a good idea.
Mom! I love this. I have a mental picture of you slowly edging forward (as you continue your photo education) across the VAST desert between you and your subjects.
Oh, and here's a tip. If you want to add a little fill light onto the unlit side of your subjects (without using that AWFUL flash), relect some light onto your subject. Cut a disc out of cardboard (about 15 inches across). Use a glue stick or some Spray 77 Glue and cover one side with Aluminum foil. Cover the other side with white paper. No, if you want to take a natural looking portrait outdoors, hold the disc out of frame with your left hand, angling the disc to relext a little bit of light to eliminate those harsher shadows or to add some sparkle to your subject's eyes!
Tell me all about the cute dog...
Judy, I'm glad you are enjoying this series. There is more to come as I unload my brain and try to make sense of all the information.
Ben, I love that you love this. Thank you for the tip.
JC, that is Bentley, a lovely Old English Sheepdog who was visiting from British Columbia. Quite a different countryside from his usual mountains and trees!
...A Beautiful portrait of Auntie...made me smile....
Beautiful portrait. I'm going to sit down and really read your information and give some of it a try. Thanks for sharing your class with the rest of us!!
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