Beauty School Coworkers - C&C welcome

Started Sep 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
24Peter Veteran Member • Posts: 3,177
Re: Beauty School Coworkers - C&C welcome

DCM1024 wrote:

My thank you to everyone for responding. There are some good suggestions here. I really need to take a class (or 10) on editing. I don't ever adjust contrast, so I'll have to play with that and see what improvements I can get. I especially agree with the comments on Ruben's photo. He loves it but I also feel the focus was on his glasses rather than his eye, the reflections and shadows on his head are not good, there is a glare on the glasses, etc. I also agree that if these photos were being used for advertising purposes it would be best to stop the aperture down to have the detail of their hair in focus.

A bit more detail than previously offered is that I shoot in large raw, I used a 270ex as fill. Global adjustments in Lightroom were to use camera portrait, lens correction, +5 saturation and +10 vibrance, then exported to elements for the portrait professional plugin, which was applied at the program default.

You have mentioned post processing several times but I don't think that's what's lacking here. I would focus more on your lighting and composition. As someone else mentioned these are nice photos of people you have a connection to. For someone like me who doesn't know any of them, I am looking for strong portraits that stand on their own to respond to. So... while completely acceptable for their intended audience, here are my suggestions for the future:

1. Light - IMO, the person's face should always be the brightest thing in the image for shots like these. Yet almost all your images have hotspots in the background that are distracting. If you want to emphasize natural light, I would find a covered and closed shaded area, where the sunlight doesn't directly strike the subject (as here) but also where there are no pockets/shafts of sunlight striking behind the subject. I would also lose the on-camera fill flash. IMO that is much more useful for outdoor shots where you want to fill the shadows caused by the direct sunlight. Here it is making a flatter, less flattering light and taking away from the abundant natural ambient light to fill any shadows.

2. Composition - most of the shots feel a little awkward in terms of the position of the subject and placement of the face in the overall image. I personally feel the face should always be turned upward/opened to the sky in shots like these to take advantage of the soft, even lighting the open sky offers. (Using open shade is different than shooting with strobes or other kinds of lighting setups IMO.) (Upward face also creates nice catch lights in your subject eyes.) However, if the face is turned slightly skyward, you need to be above your subject shooting slightly down - otherwise you're shooting up their noses. Not flattering. So you need to be above them somewhat.

I would also be conscious of your headroom and employ a rule of thirds placement of the eyes in the frame. The eyes are close to dead center in every shot which feels wrong. Some rebel against the rule of thirds as dated, but I think it provides symmetry and flow in shots like these. Your crop is also awkward on many of these. Either give me a tighter crop to emphasize the eyes and smile, or give me a wider view that includes the full neckline/shoulders and maybe even chest line. I also think stopping down to F2.8 or even F4 is appropriate. There's almost too much softness here. Just because we have an F2 on a lens doesn't always mean we should use it.

Overall, Sara is the best in terms of lighting & composition & crop. Shelby doesn't have any light on her eyes at all, making "dead eyes" plus the white balance is off.

Again, these are acceptable for their intended purpose. Just making suggestions for the future.

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