Trying to learn portraits - C&C welcome

Matero

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Hi all,
I'm trying to learn how to take good portraits but it seems difficult. Addition to good timing, composition and DOF also a lot of post-processing seems to be needed to achieve 'wow' -effect. To get help from you guys what do you think of samples below? My absolute favorite subject, I have to be quick though to get natural pose.

First PP according to my liking in DxO w/ Prime Noise reduction (as in all than SOOC JPEG)

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Tytöt mv-kuvissa 2014-04-12 14.56.56 E-M10 OLYMPUS M.45mm F1.8 f1.8 1_100s ISO2500_DxO by Matero04, on Flickr

And then Standard Portrait settings in DxO

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Siiri 2014-04-12 14.56.56 E-M10 OLYMPUS M.45mm F1.8 f1.8 1_100s ISO2500_2_DxO by Matero04, on Flickr

Standard B&W settings for her in DxO

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Tytöt mv-kuvissa 2014-04-12 14.56.56 E-M10 OLYMPUS M.45mm F1.8 f1.8 1_100s ISO2500_3_DxO by Matero04, on Flickr

And last, SOOC Monotone JPEG

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Siiri 2014-04-12 14.56.56 E-M10 OLYMPUS M.45mm F1.8 f1.8 1_100s ISO2500 by Matero04, on Flickr
 

hazwing

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I guess it's all matter of taste. I prefer the b&w versions. I have nothing against colour, but the desaturation of the first one doesn't quite do it for me. The second looks too yellow to me.
 

taz98spin

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For me I like the 2nd yellowish colored one and the last black and white version.

The 2nd photo is warm, but your subject is a child, so I would imagine a child to be warm than colder tone than the 1st image.
 

Djarum

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I like the composition, but I'm not a fan of any of them. She doesn't stand out in the B+W versions at all. The subdued it too subdued and the color is too warm and saturated for my tastes.
 

beanedsprout

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I disagree about needing a lot of post processing to create a wow effect. If you pick an interesting background, subject, location, theme, idea, it won't matter. Then it's all about what you want to do with it. Lighting is key. Lately I've been trying to get as much of it right before I take the shot, which requires tons more effort than photoshopping. Well, to me anyway. Lately I've gotten pretty good at photoshop but it's taken a year. But if you get the lighting right in camera, and the pose and subject, there's not much else you need to do. Maybe fix blemishes and such. I have more than a few examples, but the two I'm post express my idea very well because 1: this was right after I bought my first camera and had no real knowledge of photoshop, 2: the gear I was using was primitive by today's standards, and 3: they were shot with existing natural light only. GF1 the highly underrated 17mm 2.8.

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Find a cool subject, find a cool location, and most importantly find good light. Then fix what little you have left.

Some tips: check makeup, have them brush hair, check clothing etc. Look what's around and in the background. Our small sensors can't blur the background like fullframe so every portrait is an environmental one. Make sure the pose is a flattering one. Your model could be a superstar but skin and the body does weird things when posed in certain ways. Skin bunches up, limbs can look contorted and strange, expressions can look unnatural. Just keep shooting and learn from your mistakes. There is no other way to learn about photography.

And who cares how you process it. Make the image first. Then worry about what you do on the computer later, and try to spend very little time in front of the computer as possible. you'll thank yourself later. And so will your belly. hahaha
 

Ulfric M Douglas

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I don't have much to add to this ;
...I have nothing against colour, but the desaturation of the first one doesn't quite do it for me. The second looks too yellow to me.
I strongly suggest something inbetween, can't quite believe such an awful colours from any RAW processor's "portrait" mode, maybe the lighting was throwing the camera's WB off?

Also, bizarrely, you miss out the single most important factor in good portraits ;
...Addition to good timing, composition and DOF also a lot of post-processing seems to be needed to achieve 'wow' -effect.
LIGHTING! edit : ....:eek: and BeanedSprout already did it, I hadn't got that far in the thread ...

...

Which camera & lens?
 

beanedsprout

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Post does help, though...

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phigmov

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I tend to like a relatively natural portrait look - particularly for stuff that is meant to be informal. I liked two & three out of the four.

I'd also have used a tighter crop and gotten rid of the dangly thing on the left.
 

stargate

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This is a very nice shot with a lot of potential. I like the third most.
With a little more post work it can look much better. If I have your permission I could try to show you what I mean.
 

perpetualjon

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I'd say just keep shooting. I've been dabbling with portrait shooting for about 3 years now and each session teaches me something about the craft I didn't know before. Going back over old shots I have seen what I could have done better or a different lens I should have used, or a few more shots of a slightly different pose, ect... This teaches me what to do next time.
 

Matero

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This is a very nice shot with a lot of potential. I like the third most.
With a little more post work it can look much better. If I have your permission I could try to show you what I mean.
Yes, sure, go ahead. Thanks in advance!
 

Matero

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Thanks for all comments, what I absorbed of these is

* better usage of light - maybe PP is not needed, at least not so much
* even more careful cropping / composition, not forgetting interesting background
* and last, keep shooting - I fully agree with this, one learns every time something new

What I try to avoid is massive PP, I don't have the skills nor time and energy for that. Lately I've tried to use Olympus Art filters more to get results what I look for already from SOOC JPEGs. And I found it very rewarding. From my samples I like most the last one which is actually SOOC JPEG. But one have to practice with these to understand how to get the needed result.
 

stargate

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OK. I darkened the backround, and also darkened the sweater a little in order to emphasize the face. Added a little contrast too. Just a touch but I find that a little contrast gives the illusion of clarity and with such a clear face it does not empasize any skin imperfections. I hope you like it.

It was a rush job though and some more attention to detail should be put around the hair.

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