My first outdoor portrait session

pake

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First of all, critique is very welcome and - in fact - desired. I think people learn best from mistakes so let me know what I did wrong here and how to improve next time. I want to become a better portrait photographer and here's your chance to help. :clapping:

The body fitness model from my first paid photo shoot gig from last spring asked if I was interested in taking some pictures of her. I needed portrait pictures for my portfolio and the weather was (is) still nice and warm so we decided to take some environmental portraits near one of the bigger lakes here (close to the city centre).

I decided to grab the following equipment with me:
- E-M5 + 35-100mm f/2.8
- 12-40mm and 75mm f/1.8 (both stayed in the bag...)
- Godox TT350o
- tripod
- 2 sundisc clones
(round softbox diffusers, different sizes: 12" and 16")
- 1 umbrella (not used)


I ended up using the 35-100mm all the time. I should have used the 75mm as well but the zoom is just so much more convenient. Maybe next time... :)

Once we found a suitable spot I placed my tripod on the ground with the TT350o attached. I started diffusing with the bigger disc but after 5 minutes of shooting my first lesson "emerged" - and caused some changes. What lesson? Well...

Lesson number one: Even if it's not windy at all and you don't think you need any added weight to the tripod, still make sure the tripod won't fall over. A gust of wind came out of nowhere and tripped my tripod over and guess what... We were shooting next to the lake and the tripod fell into the lake! Luckily the water level was so low that the tripod didn't sunk entirely but the diffuser got wet and my TT350o got wet. :doh:

I had assumed that one TT350o would be enough for this shoot and I was REALLY lucky that the flash didn't let water in and I was able to continue using it. Only a couple of hours later it started misbehaving (not firing at all etc.). I opened up the flash, cleaned it well and had to scratch some "dirt" off to get rid of the short circuit that had appeared. I got it working perfectly again. :cloud-9-039:

So... Back to the story. Since the bigger diffuser got all wet I needed to change to the smaller one. I placed the model where I wanted and then placed the tripod/flash accordingly. The flash was too weak to use HSS so I ended up overexposing some of the photos "a bit too much" on purpose. Now I have the TT685o too which hopefully will fix that HSS issue next time I'm shooting in a sunny weather. I will also get a weaker ND-filter to tackle that issue.

Again, back to the story. I wanted normal portraits but I also wanted to show more background as well. I had never shot this kind of portraits before so I was feeling a bit like "a fish on dry land" but I think I achieved what I wanted. Here's a few shots from the first stop.

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564703 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564708 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564726 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

Next stop was a small and narrow bridge but I couldn't find a good angle so I had to settle for this kind of 3/4 body shot. I definitely wanted Tampere's (our home town) most famous landmark in the picture so had to balance next to the bridge on the slippery rocks to get it. Had I fallen me and my camera would have gotten wet too. Perhaps changing to 12-40mm would have helped here but I was too lazy to change lenses.

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564751 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

We stopped at a small pier to grab a few photos as well but I don't think those are worth showing here. I know those had many, many faults and can be easily improved so let's jump to stop number three. We found an old, abandoned factory with some graffiti on its walls. It didn't take much planning to get the shot I wanted. Once again the tripod/flash was next to the model and myself (forming a triangle) and it was approximately on her eye level.

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564822-2 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr
I did play with the color tones a bit with this one in PP but ended up toning it down. Perhaps I will play around more with these photos later and try more extreme colour grading...


Next we found a nice looking old "barn door" that I wanted to use. Sofia was sitting on top of small stairs. Once again I took some full body portraits and tighter close ups.

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564860 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564862-2 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564871 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

As I didn't want all the pics look the same I moved the tripod more to the side to get more shadow on her face and add dramatic mood. I think I made her twist her upper body a bit too much though - but the upper level of the stairs was a bit too narrow for her to be comfortable there.


OK, next stop. We found bigger stairs and took a couple shots there too but I wasn't too happy about those so we'll skip them as well. On top of the stairs was this old bench with a decent background. The sun was shining brightly and HSS didn't help so I decided to try more "high key approach" and overexpose. I did end up bringing back the blacks in PP since I liked the more contrasty version of these.

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564907-2 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564912 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

I also tried to "normalize" a couple of those overexposed shots in PP and I think I managed decently here:
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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564946 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

And here... Not so much. (Oh and btw., I just got my Spyder5 calibrator a few days ago and looking at e.g. this photo, I'm not that happy about the colours anymore. It didn't look like this when I finished editing it. :) )
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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564955 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr

One last stop on our way back to our cars got me this kind of shots:
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Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564972 by Teemu Paukamainen, on Flickr
I transformed this picture to sepia first but decided to bring back the colours a bit. I think I will play around more with this one as well later.


Here you can find a few more photos from the session: Photo Shoots


Feel free to give feedback and don't be shy (I can take it :biggrin:). Tell me how to improve my work and I'll buy you a virtual beer. :drinks::wink:
 
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Mikehit

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I think you have got some great shots there for a first session and you clearly had a good rapport with the model - your self critique is also detailed and spot-on.
My favourite is the one against the graffiti wall even though I find the jumble of metal (?) in the background a tad distracting.
 

Walter

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I like most of your portraits. Only in a few the smile of your model is a little bit "forced", in most of them she has a quite natural and relaxed look. In some of them half the face has a little too much shadow for my taste. And I usually avoid having the model look directly into the sun.
Since I got the 1,8/75 mm second-hand for a little more than half its normal price (almost unused and with original lens hood from a wedding photographer who found it too long for inside shootings) this has become my most-used lens for portraits. The background is much less disturbing and the bokeh is just beautiful. But of course this is a matter of taste.
My favourites of your series are Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564860 / [URL='https://flic.kr/p/NeErNQ']Sofia - 2018/08 - EM564862-2 , the last one being my No. 1 . She has such beautiful eyes and such a lovely smile. And I'm sure she was extremely happy with the photographer's achievement. ;-))[/URL]
 

ijm5012

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Hey Teemu, here are my thoughts looking through the images:
  • On images 1-3, her hair appears to be blown out along with the skin on her right (our left looking at the images) shoulder. To combat this, shoot with a higher shutter speed to pull down the brightness of the highlights, or introduce some diffusion to reduce the harsh light that's present.
  • Image 4 is much more balanced in terms of exposure, but may be a little bit over exposed. Personally, I would pull the exposure down just a bit.
  • Images 5-8 have some hard shadows on the right side of her face (our left looking at the images). This can be remedied by adding a bit of fill via a simple reflector just to fill in those shadows.
  • Images 9-10 are extremely overexposed IMO. There's barely any detail on her skin, and it is almost white.
  • Images 11-13 are the best images in terms of exposure, shadows, etc.
Keep at it though! Lighting makes such a difference when it comes to portraiture. Working with hard sunlight is very difficult, so play around with placing your model in shade, using some diffusion, etc. It takes a bit of experimentation and playing around, but once you get it right the results are worth it!
 

Bif

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Everything is way overexposed with blocked up highlights, but I think you realize that already. What happened here is too much gear syndrome for the first outdoor portrait try.

First thing I suggest: Get the heck away from sunlight, it is harsh, specular, and very unkind to people's skin tones. Seek open shade, or get in the shadow of larger buildings. Then look at the light falling on your subject, notice it's direction and character. (Do a search for "short" and "broad" lighting) Short lighting will work best with most faces especially those that tend to be a bit full. Broad is best suited for thinner bordering on gaunt faces.

Along with this search for and read illustrated articles on Portraiture with Subtractive Lighting. I never used black gobos or much of anything like that but always sought out locations where some architectural feature or foliage "subtracted" light from one direction. That way sometimes I could simulate the control of studio lighting. Being the "king of lazy" I never carted lighting gear out to an outdoor location.

Consider some kind of diffusion filtration at the lens to get away from the "clinical oversharpnes of m4/3 lenses (or look up "Softer Skin In Minutes" for PhotoShop), I used to use this a lot both in studio and outdoors. I've tried a bunch of expensive filters like Tiffen's Black Net diffusion and not been happy, but the FotoDiox Diffuser at very inexpensive prices is giving me results I find encouraging (I used to use the Mamiya Sekor Soft Focus lens for the RB67 in the film days that resulted in gorgeous soft portraits of women).

Get out and do some practice with the above info during the "golden hour", that hour and a half before sunset when shadows get longer and allow you to get out of the sun easier. Good luck!
 

Bif

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I just did a search for subtractive lighting and the examples I found were mostly awful. This one does have a few good examples that will show what is possible:

How to use a Gobo to add Depth Your Portraits with Subtractive Lighting

Like I said in the post above, I never used a gobo, I always found a location where some structural feature or tree or foliage gave me the effect of light coming from one main direction where I could use it to create highlights and shadow areas on the subject.
 

CWRailman

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I liked the three of her sitting by the wooden background. Lighting and exposure look near perfect. She looks comfortable, not stressed and her facial expression does not look forced. There's good interaction going on here between you, she and the camera. Depth of field is sufficient to keep here entirely in focus unlike some shooters who over work the shallow depth of field concept.

As noted above by others, in the first and some of the last images the high lights are really blown out. In processing try and bring those down at least a half stop. Also while she may have decided this, the top she was wearing in the first images and the dress a few later would not be my choice for a photo session. Kind of makes her look like an overgrown kinder garden kid and that is usually not the look that people of her generation appreciate.

Personally I prefer to have the model looking directly into the camera as the eyes are the most important part of any such image and is stressed in numerous Youtube videos by the pros. If you are going to have her looking off into the distance it has to be done naturally. Her expression in some of these shots makes me believe she was trying too hard. Here eyes look forced. Also consider not using a tripod for portrait work. Instead use a mono pole as it is less intimidating to the subject and allows you to move about from side to side, up and down and back and forth a lot more yet provides steadying of the camera especially when shooting near wide open where focusing is critical. Also note the angles that work best for this young lady. IMHO the images that show her the best are those taken from above her head line looking a bit down such as the one where she is sitting on the bench. (Third from the last image.) See how her chin looks leaner than in the last image. Ladies like that type of shot. Shooting from eye level or below might be OK if you are shooting from a distance with a long telephoto lens. This is common for ladies with builds similar to hers. Speaking of eyes. When assessing a model look to see which eye is larger. That should be the eye furthest away from the lens. In this case her left eye is a bit smaller so you should have shot her predominately from the left side. In that way it will diminish the size difference between her two eyes. Hopefully you will get another opportunity to work with this model as she is a pretty lady. You might consider checking out some of Sue Bryce's videos on photographing women.
Or this one on posing. She makes some interesting comments about how she moves around the model.
 
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jyc860923

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First of all, I think you did really great with the small TT350 flash, I have the Fuji version and I know how weak it can be especially for outdoor shooting.

There's not much I would change with your processing. Better gears for the job like a stronger flash and the 75 prime can give you more control but I like that you chose to deliver a more natural-looking results rather than some dull beauty shots.

It's more about posing, dressing and choosing the right background than what you can control within the camera when it comes to portrait shooting IMO, so I'd say that's what we can always try to do better.

Again, really really good shots.
 

pake

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Hey Teemu, here are my thoughts looking through the images:
  • On images 1-3, her hair appears to be blown out along with the skin on her right (our left looking at the images) shoulder. To combat this, shoot with a higher shutter speed to pull down the brightness of the highlights, or introduce some diffusion to reduce the harsh light that's present.
  • Image 4 is much more balanced in terms of exposure, but may be a little bit over exposed. Personally, I would pull the exposure down just a bit.
  • Images 5-8 have some hard shadows on the right side of her face (our left looking at the images). This can be remedied by adding a bit of fill via a simple reflector just to fill in those shadows.
  • Images 9-10 are extremely overexposed IMO. There's barely any detail on her skin, and it is almost white.
  • Images 11-13 are the best images in terms of exposure, shadows, etc.
Thank you! Yes, most of them were overexposed. Unfortunately I couldn't use higher shutter speed because E-M5 + Godox combo limits it to 1/160 s and that's what I used. HSS was out of the question because my tiny TT350o didn't have (anywhere near) enough power. I also didn't want the background to get too dominant and therefore didn't use smaller aperture. So it was a conscious choice to overexpose. And yes, images 9-10 were (deliberately) extremely overexposed since I wanted to try something different.

Adding diffusion would have complicated things too much since it was just the two of us and we wanted to "travel light" and not spend too much time setting up the scene etc. That is also why I only took only one flash with me. I had a reflector with me too but I only had one tripod and two hands - and both hands were on my camera so I think I did the best I could in the situation. Using the reflector would have made shooting more... challenging. Perhaps after a few more sessions I can free some of my thinking capacity to be able to work a reflector too while holding the camera and getting the settings right etc. :rolleyes-38:

Hopefully this overexposing issue is now history since I received the more powerful Godox TT685o right after the photo shoot. If it turns out that it's not enough after all then I'll go and buy a few weaker ND filters. :)

First thing I suggest: Get the heck away from sunlight, it is harsh, specular, and very unkind to people's skin tones. Seek open shade, or get in the shadow of larger buildings. Then look at the light falling on your subject, notice it's direction and character. (Do a search for "short" and "broad" lighting) Short lighting will work best with most faces especially those that tend to be a bit full. Broad is best suited for thinner bordering on gaunt faces.

Along with this search for and read illustrated articles on Portraiture with Subtractive Lighting. I never used black gobos or much of anything like that but always sought out locations where some architectural feature or foliage "subtracted" light from one direction. That way sometimes I could simulate the control of studio lighting. Being the "king of lazy" I never carted lighting gear out to an outdoor location.

Consider some kind of diffusion filtration at the lens to get away from the "clinical oversharpnes of m4/3 lenses (or look up "Softer Skin In Minutes" for PhotoShop), I used to use this a lot both in studio and outdoors. I've tried a bunch of expensive filters like Tiffen's Black Net diffusion and not been happy, but the FotoDiox Diffuser at very inexpensive prices is giving me results I find encouraging (I used to use the Mamiya Sekor Soft Focus lens for the RB67 in the film days that resulted in gorgeous soft portraits of women).

Get out and do some practice with the above info during the "golden hour", that hour and a half before sunset when shadows get longer and allow you to get out of the sun easier. Good luck!
You gave me a lot to think about. I'll be doing some research based on your suggestions so... Thank you! :)

As noted above by others, in the first and some of the last images the high lights are really blown out. In processing try and bring those down at least a half stop. Also while she may have decided this, the top she was wearing in the first images and the dress a few later would not be my choice for a photo session. Kind of makes her look like an overgrown kinder garden kid and that is usually not the look that people of her generation appreciate.
I agree about the clothes. She wanted pictures of her, I wanted pictures for my portfolio so I thought I was there to take the pictures. I didn't/don't feel it's my place to comment on the outfit. And speaking of clothes I do feel that I should have noticed some flaws in her outfit and asked her to fix them more often. I should pay more attention to the little things too (such as straightening wrinkly parts etc.) next time. (I did comment a few times but clearly not enough since some things are still bothering me.)

Personally I prefer to have the model looking directly into the camera as the eyes are the most important part of any such image and is stressed in numerous Youtube videos by the pros. If you are going to have her looking off into the distance it has to be done naturally. Her expression in some of these shots makes me believe she was trying too hard. Here eyes look forced.
Before shooting we agreed that she wouldn't need to be looking at me all the time since I wanted variability / more options. I did sometimes suggest looking elsewhere but it's hard to tell was she looking away by her own choice or because I told her to. I'll try to notice the "trying too hard"-thing in the future. But in general I do think the best impressions she had was when she wasn't being told what to do (how surprising...:rolleyes-38:).

Also consider not using a tripod for portrait work. Instead use a mono pole as it is less intimidating to the subject and allows you to move about from side to side, up and down and back and forth a lot more yet provides steadying of the camera especially when shooting near wide open where focusing is critical.
All the shots were taken handheld. The tripod was only there for the flash. And I chose the tripod over a flash stand because it had a handle for carrying and a hook beneath for adding extra weight to make it not fall over (lesson learned btw).

Also note the angles that work best for this young lady. IMHO the images that show her the best are those taken from above her head line looking a bit down such as the one where she is sitting on the bench. (Third from the last image.) See how her chin looks leaner than in the last image. Ladies like that type of shot. Shooting from eye level or below might be OK if you are shooting from a distance with a long telephoto lens. This is common for ladies with builds similar to hers.
Yes, I agree. I think I like the photos taken from above her head the best too. Next time I will reduce the number of eye level shots and work more on the different angles. :thumbup:

Speaking of eyes. When assessing a model look to see which eye is larger. That should be the eye furthest away from the lens. In this case her left eye is a bit smaller so you should have shot her predominately from the left side. In that way it will diminish the size difference between her two eyes. Hopefully you will get another opportunity to work with this model as she is a pretty lady. You might consider checking out some of Sue Bryce's videos on photographing women.
Or this one on posing. She makes some interesting comments about how she moves around the model.
Yes! Unfortunately I noticed the same thing way too late - after importing the pictures to LR. The size difference is pretty notable but I missed that in the shoot. But the good thing is that in the future I know better. :2thumbs: We did agree that we'll have another outdoor session once the autumn is here. And thanks for the video links. I will check them out soon.

First of all, I think you did really great with the small TT350 flash, I have the Fuji version and I know how weak it can be especially for outdoor shooting.

There's not much I would change with your processing. Better gears for the job like a stronger flash and the 75 prime can give you more control but I like that you chose to deliver a more natural-looking results rather than some dull beauty shots.

It's more about posing, dressing and choosing the right background than what you can control within the camera when it comes to portrait shooting IMO, so I'd say that's what we can always try to do better.

Again, really really good shots.
Thank you! And I think the next shoot will be much better because I'll be using a more powerful flash. The TT350 is a splendid little flash but shooting at direct sunlight is not its forte. :biggrin:


Thank you all for the input! Really appreciated. :bowdown: I think we all agreed that the main issue was overexposing - which I blame on the weak flash (or lack of ND filters). I would have shot with faster shutter speed but that simply wasn't possible. But to be honest, I think I fared better than I feared for my first outdoor session. Plenty of helpful tips/comments received already and I know I will address these issues and get better photos next time. :drinks:
 

Walter

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Thanks Denny for uploading the two videos. This lady gets - in a completely unspectacular way - to the heart of the issue.
 

ionian

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You've had lots of good comments and I don't want to complicate things by writing an essay - too much info will be too hard to process. So just a couple of notes:

Image 5 is my favourite but work on skin tones after split toning. Whatever else you do with colour, get your subject looking healthy.

6-8 make a great set but have one big issue for me - the light is too low, so the light is bouncing up into her face not coming from above. You can see this in the shadows on her chin, her nose shadow, and the shape of her eyes. We are genetically programmed to see the world with lighting coming from above. Light from below is called "horror lighting". These are otherwise really nicely executed shots.

Last thing - don't ever be in too much of a rush that you can't change lenses, adjust the light, consider your whole frame, or adjust the model and her attire. It's better to do less locations and get more perfect shots than anything else. Slow down and try to take it all in.

But you should be proud of what you've done here. It's a massive thing to have control over this sort of shoot - it's a long way from "find a pretty person and point the camera at them" as someone on this forum commented about portrait photography not that long ago :) keep at it, practice makes perfect, and if you have any connections then go an assist with a local pro photographer on their shoots. You'll be amazed at what you can pick up by watching.
 

pake

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Image 5 is my favourite but work on skin tones after split toning. Whatever else you do with colour, get your subject looking healthy.
I think I only applied global adjustments there and started separating tones (different tones for background and subject) a few pictures after this one. I think I will redo this one over the weekend. But thank you for pointing that out.

6-8 make a great set but have one big issue for me - the light is too low, so the light is bouncing up into her face not coming from above. You can see this in the shadows on her chin, her nose shadow, and the shape of her eyes. We are genetically programmed to see the world with lighting coming from above. Light from below is called "horror lighting". These are otherwise really nicely executed shots.
I will remember this in the future. Thanks. :)

Last thing - don't ever be in too much of a rush that you can't change lenses, adjust the light, consider your whole frame, or adjust the model and her attire. It's better to do less locations and get more perfect shots than anything else. Slow down and try to take it all in.
I was feeling a bit insecure and wanted lots of different photos because of the lack of portraits in my portfolio. Now that issue has been solved so next time I can concentrate on quality instead of quantity. Thanks again for a valid point. :2thumbs:

But you should be proud of what you've done here. It's a massive thing to have control over this sort of shoot - it's a long way from "find a pretty person and point the camera at them" as someone on this forum commented about portrait photography not that long ago :) keep at it, practice makes perfect, and if you have any connections then go an assist with a local pro photographer on their shoots. You'll be amazed at what you can pick up by watching.
Thank you. Another nice idea - especially when my ex neighbor has been shooting professionally for 20-30 years. ;)
 
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If you are running up against the shutter speed issue with the Godox, you might want to bring a neutral density filter into the mix to help you combat that and allow you to shoot at f/2.8.

I personally would start with just using reflectors before even going into a speed light of any kind. That will allow you to use the full range of shutter speeds.

I agree with most sentiments. Great for your first attempt. You seem to already have a good grasp on where to work on improvements.
 

Bif

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I didn't get any formal schooling, didn't do the apprentice thing. I did subscribe to the PPofA magazine, and to "The Rangefinder", both of which in the '60s and '70s were professional publications and both promoted high standards. When I started trying to do professional work as a sideline, I started going to professional level programs and seminars sponsored by some of the best pro labs. I learned much during the 10 years before going full time.

One thing several of the talent teaching at these events suggested will help you a lot. They said, "Don't try to put everything we teach here into use at once. Take one thing at a time, try it and 'work the kinks out'. Master it and make it work for you before you go on to another technique".

So I suggest to you: Leave the flash at home. Get out of the sunlight as I suggested before, and master outdoor lighting and exposure as best you can without extra "stuff". Have an ND filter available, three strengths I find workable are 0.6 (2 stop reduction), 0.9 (3 stop reduction), and 1.2 (4 stop reduction). I use one of the softer color profiles on my cameras (natural profile on Panasonics), and you need to get the exposure right. That will tend to get you good skin tones, blocked up highlights make skin tone recovery pretty much impossible.

After a few sessions where you get good results with "found" daylight (away from sunlight!), then bring an assistant to hold a black gobo or panel to "subtract" light from one direction to make the lighting on your subject more directional.

Some good info here:

13 Tips for Improving Outdoor Portraits
 

pake

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I didn't get any formal schooling, didn't do the apprentice thing. I did subscribe to the PPofA magazine, and to "The Rangefinder", both of which in the '60s and '70s were professional publications and both promoted high standards. When I started trying to do professional work as a sideline, I started going to professional level programs and seminars sponsored by some of the best pro labs. I learned much during the 10 years before going full time.

One thing several of the talent teaching at these events suggested will help you a lot. They said, "Don't try to put everything we teach here into use at once. Take one thing at a time, try it and 'work the kinks out'. Master it and make it work for you before you go on to another technique".

So I suggest to you: Leave the flash at home. Get out of the sunlight as I suggested before, and master outdoor lighting and exposure as best you can without extra "stuff". Have an ND filter available, three strengths I find workable are 0.6 (2 stop reduction), 0.9 (3 stop reduction), and 1.2 (4 stop reduction). I use one of the softer color profiles on my cameras (natural profile on Panasonics), and you need to get the exposure right. That will tend to get you good skin tones, blocked up highlights make skin tone recovery pretty much impossible.

After a few sessions where you get good results with "found" daylight (away from sunlight!), then bring an assistant to hold a black gobo or panel to "subtract" light from one direction to make the lighting on your subject more directional.

Some good info here:

13 Tips for Improving Outdoor Portraits
Thank you. I might as well do as you suggested and shoot without a flash next time. I was also already wondering which ND filters to buy but you answered that question too, so thanks. :2thumbs:

Oh yes, I've admired her work before. I will definitely take some time to "absorb" from those images after I finish this forum session so thanks for sharing that link. :)
 
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I liked the three of her sitting by the wooden background. Lighting and exposure look near perfect. She looks comfortable, not stressed and her facial expression does not look forced. There's good interaction going on here between you, she and the camera. Depth of field is sufficient to keep here entirely in focus unlike some shooters who over work the shallow depth of field concept.

As noted above by others, in the first and some of the last images the high lights are really blown out. In processing try and bring those down at least a half stop. Also while she may have decided this, the top she was wearing in the first images and the dress a few later would not be my choice for a photo session. Kind of makes her look like an overgrown kinder garden kid and that is usually not the look that people of her generation appreciate.

Personally I prefer to have the model looking directly into the camera as the eyes are the most important part of any such image and is stressed in numerous Youtube videos by the pros. If you are going to have her looking off into the distance it has to be done naturally. Her expression in some of these shots makes me believe she was trying too hard. Here eyes look forced. Also consider not using a tripod for portrait work. Instead use a mono pole as it is less intimidating to the subject and allows you to move about from side to side, up and down and back and forth a lot more yet provides steadying of the camera especially when shooting near wide open where focusing is critical. Also note the angles that work best for this young lady. IMHO the images that show her the best are those taken from above her head line looking a bit down such as the one where she is sitting on the bench. (Third from the last image.) See how her chin looks leaner than in the last image. Ladies like that type of shot. Shooting from eye level or below might be OK if you are shooting from a distance with a long telephoto lens. This is common for ladies with builds similar to hers. Speaking of eyes. When assessing a model look to see which eye is larger. That should be the eye furthest away from the lens. In this case her left eye is a bit smaller so you should have shot her predominately from the left side. In that way it will diminish the size difference between her two eyes. Hopefully you will get another opportunity to work with this model as she is a pretty lady. You might consider checking out some of Sue Bryce's videos on photographing women.
Or this one on posing. She makes some interesting comments about how she moves around the model.

I have a new photog crush! I loved Sue Bryce's videos, and have signed up on her blog for more education. Thank you so much for sharing.
 

oldracer

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Lots of good comments here. I'll add a few thoughts:

1)The outfits with the printed words and printed flowers are WRONG! They hugely distract from the subject and should never have been used. The striped top is much better but tops that are even less obtrusive should have been in the shoot.

2) For this type of shot, I almost always add a slight vignette to darken the corners and draw the eye to the subject. My criterion is that if I can look at it and see that there is a vignette then it is almost certainly too much. You'd be surprised how a subtle vignette can improve a photo.

3) Try some square crops and see what you think. A lot of good portraits have been shot with Hassies and Rolleis. Rectangular crops can allow more distractions to appear.
 
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