Friday, 27 February 2015

Photography at BFH {improvers part one}

So, term two - we're officially Improvers now instead of Beginners - woo hoo!

It was lovely to see so many of the same group back and raring to go, and we jumped back in where we left off - with portraits.  Because this is the UK and it's February it was raining for most of the session, so we stayed indoors up until the last half hour or so because we're wimps who don't like the rain careful about keeping our cameras out of the rain, in case they turn into gremlins if they get wet.

So, portrait tips :

•  use aperture priority mode - a low number/big aperture so you can blur the background to draw attention to the face

•  consider monotone to preventing distractions of busy or colourful backgrounds

•  keep the camera the 'usual' way round - as in landscape not portrait

•  communicate with your subject - ask them to look at things around the room / nearby

•  think about where in the frame you're leaving empty space, and whether it enhances the overall image


Graham had brought along a bag of tricks - various reflectors and lighting knicknacks.  It was interesting to see how different a portrait you get dependant on whether there's no reflector, or a white one, or a gold or silver one!

Things to keep in mind regarding lighting

•  Try to find a diffused light source - non direct sunlight from through a window for example

•  If your subject is sitting at a table to help them feel more comfortable,  lay white paper on the table if it's a dark colour, as this will reflect much more light upwards minimising unflattering shadows / double chins

•  Play around with angles, and if you have a reflector (and ideally someone to hold it for you) try different shots to see what works best in the conditions you've got

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Indoor shots...

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...and outdoors too

(when we finally agreed to brave the rain which had stopped by then)

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Everybody being very arty, trying to get the perfect shot of Rachel (of Rachel in Real Life.  You need a bit of the pillar, the shape of the arch, shadows, light, texture...

Or maybe not.

While I'm starting to see the technical elements that make a 'good' portrait, I much prefer the ones that tell you something about the person, or else provoke a reaction in you as you look at it.  

I love this shot of Rachel because it is very Rachel.  It shares something about her personality, her sense of fun.  From a technical standpoint there are some positives - catch lights in her eyes, blurred but not too blurred backdrop, a range of tones, a bit of texture from the stonework and interest from the graffiti...  and I'm not going to list the areas with room for improvement, so ner.

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