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Thread: Need help on portrait photography

  1. #1
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    Red face Need help on portrait photography

    Hi guys,

    I would like to ask. Got something I unsure about portrait photography.

    1) when taking portrait of human, where shld be the camera focus point be? the eyes of the person?

    2) what setting shld I use?

    I used 1/30, f8, indoor with bounced flash. (home). Is f-stop ok?
    (I am afraid that DOF not enough and some part of the face not sharp. I want the entire face to be in focus)

    3) I shld not be using zoom lens right? better use prime lens?

  2. #2
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    1) Most times u should focus on the eyes, but not every times u "must" focus on the eyes.
    2) 1/30 is too slow and would create handshake. f8 should be ok, but DOF is controlled by 3 elements: f-stop, lens focal length and the distance between camera and subject.
    3) In general, prime lens are sharper and better contrast than zoom, but some expensive zooms are said to be equally good.

  3. #3
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    Join a model shoot

    Right Astin? Hehe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by espn
    Join a model shoot

    Right Astin? Hehe.
    Eh, join a model shoot organized by a photographer.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Yeo
    Hi guys,

    I would like to ask. Got something I unsure about portrait photography.

    1) when taking portrait of human, where shld be the camera focus point be? the eyes of the person?

    2) what setting shld I use?

    I used 1/30, f8, indoor with bounced flash. (home). Is f-stop ok?
    (I am afraid that DOF not enough and some part of the face not sharp. I want the entire face to be in focus)

    3) I shld not be using zoom lens right? better use prime lens?
    Perhaps I might be too complicated in my response. But here goes

    1 While it is common advice to focus on the eyes, this might not necessarily be the case. A question that you will have to answer for yourself is, why are you taking this portrait? Are you trying to make a likeness of the person? or are you making a story of the person? Maybe it is the person's eyes,or lips, or vibrancy that you want to put into the image.

    2 There is no fixed setting for portrait. I use anything from f1.0 to f16 for my 35mm camera. Again, the choice lies with what I am trying to put on the image. 1/30 is a little slow for handheld especially with a SLR. But I had handleld with 1/15 with a rangefinder. Most of my portraits are taken with a shutter speed of 1/30 or less. Sometimes even 1 second! But most of my photography are taken with a tripod!

    3 Zoom lens is fine. There are differences in perspective with different lenses. Make use of them. The quality of modern zooms is more than most photog's skills anyway.

  6. #6
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    I took on tripod. thus 1/30 is ok.

    but i just find that sometimes, not the entire face is sharp. thus, dunno i f8 is enough to cover the entire face sharpness?

    the reason for taking portrait is less complicated: i want to have the person's photo put on my home's wall

    eg, portrait of my family, portrait of my relatives, friends' gathering at my home etc....

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    Default mind if i join the discussion?

    i curious to know abt human portrait. if let say a sunny day and the evening day, should i still remain using the f 8 to take the human face.

    i a serious newbie, don mind if i asked. any advice on wad should i use. i use 30/60 shutter speed without stand and i find that the picture capture is more sharp.

    i din use a stand coz to troublesome. heex. mi hope to learn more. any critic or anything to share is oki. i love opinion.

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    Well, photography is all about the art of using (or some calls painting) with lights. With right amount of lights on the subject, in this case the human face, you could create many different effects.

    Firstly, the f stops affects depth of field or view, but the same f stop at different focal length has a different DOV. Thus, even at f16 or 22 or 32 on a lens set or fixed at say 180mm, the DOV can still be very narrow. The best way to check if the entire face is sharp use the Depth Of View preview function on your camera.

    Secondly, if your f stops are closed down, insufficient light may be you next problem. Thus many pros use flash guns or stobes to get more lights back onto he subject. This means that flash photography technique is used. In flash photography, f stops is all you can play with as the shutter speeds are limited up to the flash sync speed, which is about 1/250 on most modern cameras.

    Using a flash / light meter, you will soon find that no matter what you power setting on the lights, only the f stops reading changes.

    Anywa, there's too much to explain over a thread. Go join a course like the one I will be conducting on 22, 24 & 26 Feb at Lighthouse Images 175B Geylang Road will help. It's $270 including studio rental and modelling fees. It's over 8 hours of lessons conducted within the week.

    Call me for more details 9366 5287.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by tommon
    Well, photography is all about the art of using (or some calls painting) with lights. With right amount of lights on the subject, in this case the human face, you could create many different effects.

    Firstly, the f stops affects depth of field or view, but the same f stop at different focal length has a different DOV. Thus, even at f16 or 22 or 32 on a lens set or fixed at say 180mm, the DOV can still be very narrow. The best way to check if the entire face is sharp use the Depth Of View preview function on your camera.

    Secondly, if your f stops are closed down, insufficient light may be you next problem. Thus many pros use flash guns or stobes to get more lights back onto he subject. This means that flash photography technique is used. In flash photography, f stops is all you can play with as the shutter speeds are limited up to the flash sync speed, which is about 1/250 on most modern cameras.

    Using a flash / light meter, you will soon find that no matter what you power setting on the lights, only the f stops reading changes.

    Anywa, there's too much to explain over a thread. Go join a course like the one I will be conducting on 22, 24 & 26 Feb at Lighthouse Images 175B Geylang Road will help. It's $270 including studio rental and modelling fees. It's over 8 hours of lessons conducted within the week.

    Call me for more details 9366 5287.
    You might like to kick the habit of habital advertisment for your course.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by shan_gui
    i curious to know abt human portrait. if let say a sunny day and the evening day, should i still remain using the f 8 to take the human face.

    i a serious newbie, don mind if i asked. any advice on wad should i use. i use 30/60 shutter speed without stand and i find that the picture capture is more sharp.

    i din use a stand coz to troublesome. heex. mi hope to learn more. any critic or anything to share is oki. i love opinion.
    The choice of f-stop is really dependent on what you are trying to achieve with the equipment at hand.

    Sharpness of image is dependent on several factors. Accurate focussing, ability of the photog to keep steady, and the subject able to keep still long enough.

    It is true that choices of the right angles is much much easier handheld. But many great images were made on tripod because the photogs were able to see better!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Yeo
    I took on tripod. thus 1/30 is ok.

    but i just find that sometimes, not the entire face is sharp. thus, dunno i f8 is enough to cover the entire face sharpness?

    the reason for taking portrait is less complicated: i want to have the person's photo put on my home's wall

    eg, portrait of my family, portrait of my relatives, friends' gathering at my home etc....
    For the purpose of having "realistic" images of your family and friends to keep, may I suggest a point and shoot camera with automatic flash. I am not being sarcastic or condescending. Indeed this is what P&S cameras are very good for and more!

    Many of my favorite images of beloved ones are taken with my Leica Minilux. While I lose some degree of "Control", the camera actually does quite a good job in capturing images.

    But the P&S are not good, for example, im "selective focus" and more "arty" type images. But these are not your priority.

    With a 35-80 mm lens on a 35 mm camera, f8 is quite sufficient!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by blurblock
    You might like to kick the habit of habital advertisment for your course.

    I agree with blurblock.

    Your unabashed repeated advertisement for your courses is getting annoying! Perhaps a style of doing things you learnt from other "more enlightened" places?

    I would have no problem if your post is a general advice like "you might like to join a course as advertised in the workshop subforum".

  13. #13
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    Default curious

    i too had a qns in my heart but i din ask. i realise that the shutter speed is keep at 200+ when i used flash why is it. i too realise that some pple using hii shutter speed to take picture. but i don understand why. i know my qns is kinda general. but i hope u can help mi solve my doubt. as for tommy. i am in ns now. my onli timeis weekend. tks for introducing. but don advertise. i guess pple are reali annoyed. i can see.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by shan_gui
    i too had a qns in my heart but i din ask. i realise that the shutter speed is keep at 200+ when i used flash why is it. i too realise that some pple using hii shutter speed to take picture. but i don understand why. i know my qns is kinda general. but i hope u can help mi solve my doubt. as for tommy. i am in ns now. my onli timeis weekend. tks for introducing. but don advertise. i guess pple are reali annoyed. i can see.

    I am not much of a "flash" person, so I hope others can explain that to you. There are many reasons to use high shutter speed, the main reason is to freeze movement, either from camera shake because most people cannot hold a camera still at say shutter speed of less than 1/60 (generally speaking - not talking about antishake mechanisms/rangefinder etc) or from subject movement.

    For example, the way I photograph people often entails shutter speed of about 1/4 second. In this way, most people cannot stand still and the image will almost certainly be blurred. At shutter speed of 1/30 or above, most people can stand still sufficiently to avoid movements. So I try to find ways to keep the shutter speed above 1/30 for my photography. This is for tripod shoot. For handheld shots, I would prefer the shutter to be at least 1/60 if not more.

  15. #15
    Senior Member jnet6's Avatar
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    One Question,
    Why do u need to take potrait at this "low" shutter speed???
    If the place is brightly "lighted",the problem of low shutter speed will not occur, can use flash to compansate.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by shan_gui
    i too had a qns in my heart but i din ask. i realise that the shutter speed is keep at 200+ when i used flash why is it. i too realise that some pple using hii shutter speed to take picture. but i don understand why. i know my qns is kinda general. but i hope u can help mi solve my doubt. as for tommy. i am in ns now. my onli timeis weekend. tks for introducing. but don advertise. i guess pple are reali annoyed. i can see.
    Simple answer.

    ur Flash sync speed is only 1/250 lor. (or less, D100 is 1/180)
    So when u use flash, the max speed is only up to 1/250

    Some cameras like Nikon D1 and D70 can do 1/500 flash sync.


    High shutter speed freeze movement. but if lighting is not good u will need a very wide aperature or very high ISO to compensate.
    (high ISO gives more grain or "noise")

    In certain situations, lower shutter speeds maybe nicer.
    (Like a taking a waterfall, High shutter speed will freeze the water motion and u see drops of water froze. Lower shutter speed will produce a nice blurring motion of water to indicate the fast flowing water and look "nicer")

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnet6
    One Question,
    Why do u need to take potrait at this "low" shutter speed???
    If the place is brightly "lighted",the problem of low shutter speed will not occur, can use flash to compansate.
    Well, the main reason I use a slow shutter speed is because I use a largeformat camera, and sometimes I use an aperture like f32 for adequate depth of field! With my 35 mm, for portraits I often use f2.8 to f5.6. That is a lot of difference! 5 stops!

    Yes you are right about flash. I am looking into it now. Need lots of power to shoot at f32 at a shutter speed of 1/250 or more!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by student
    Well, the main reason I use a slow shutter speed is because I use a largeformat camera, and sometimes I use an aperture like f32 for adequate depth of field! With my 35 mm, for portraits I often use f2.8 to f5.6. That is a lot of difference! 5 stops!

    Yes you are right about flash. I am looking into it now. Need lots of power to shoot at f32 at a shutter speed of 1/250 or more!
    Yes... agreed.. for F32, u need low speed..
    And with a tripod too...
    if shooting portrait "handheld".... 1/30 is not a recommended speed...

  19. #19
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    Default shutter speed

    I think that the safest slowest shutter speed to use depends on the f-stop one is using. This is discussed in some earlier threads like:

    http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthrea...ight=stop+rule

    I always thought that flash photography gives a more harsh picture than natural lighting. Furthermore flash tends to light up everything and makes the picture rather flat. I had the opportunity to browse through the book recently launched by Russel Wong and the portraits taken depicts how he uses light and shadows to highlight the facial features of his subjects. It is very subtle but yet very powerful. There is a certain position he places the box light that gives that effect. You can see it from the light reflecting off the eye. Is there a rule of thumb as to how one places these lights to give the effect? Hope to hear from the gurus of portrait photography.
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  20. #20

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    Hi Paul,
    Check out this book:
    National Geographic Photograpgy Field Guide People and Portraits

    It may not answer your question but it's a good book nonetheless about taking people photos.

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