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Thread: Portraiture, or not?

  1. #1

    Default Portraiture, or not?

    It's been 3 months and 6 days since I bought my 500D! I hope I've been improving just enough to be qualified to take part in SYPA, so I'll need help from you guys! I'm currently 15 this year and still schooling, so I don't have much time to shoot, only a maximum of one day per week! So all C&C is appreciated in order to make full use of the day!



    1. In what area is critique to be sought?
    • Does this picture fit being called as portraiture?
    • How could have this shot been improved?
    • Would the woman facing me have looked nicer, since the face would've been rather small?
    • Does the framing work to give a feeling of the woman a more pitiful, "small" feel?


    2. What one hopes to achieve with the piece of work?
    In all honesty, make it one qualified enough to take part in SYPA. On the other hand, bring about a "restricted" feeling by the old woman present in the picture via the use of framing.

    3. Under what circumstance is the picture taken? (physical conditions/emotions)
    The picture was taken in B&W from the start since it was a sort of timed trip and pictures had to be shared after the shoot, so it was taken in JPEG! Not much post processing done.

    The time of the day was around 11am~12pm, which meant pretty bad lighting conditions (for me) since the sun had a tendency to screw up all the colors. I don't know how to overcome this so..

    4. What the critique seeker personally thinks of the picture.
    I'm thinking it's an alright photo, but not particularly outstanding. Picture might've looked better with woman facing the camera instead.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    there's a lot of emotion with the lady looking away actually, that might suit your needs. if she was looking in your direction and assuming she is a stranger then one wrong expression would ruin your whole plan.

    i have no issues with the framing but the highlights are rather distracting. if you could darken them some it would be great, especially the background which we would associate as the direction she is looking, it being so bright tends to mean a cheery outlook. so think about what you want to say.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo View Post
    there's a lot of emotion with the lady looking away actually, that might suit your needs. if she was looking in your direction and assuming she is a stranger then one wrong expression would ruin your whole plan.

    i have no issues with the framing but the highlights are rather distracting. if you could darken them some it would be great, especially the background which we would associate as the direction she is looking, it being so bright tends to mean a cheery outlook. so think about what you want to say.
    Thanks! She was looking in my direction for awhile and did attempt to pose for me rather nicely, that is without any signs to show that she knew a camera was taking a photo of her, but I was fumbling with my DSLR and then she looked away.

    I'll take note of the point on the background! Thanks for your critique, really appreciated!

    EDIT: I've tried making the highlights a little bit darker, however it seemed to make the whole picture a tad too dim for my liking, and due to it being taken in JPG, I can't really fix it. Still, I'll take note of highlights in the future!
    Last edited by Linerax; 16th March 2010 at 09:20 AM.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    nice composition. a real picture that tells a thousand words. a story in a page of life.

    u hav a bright future kid. keep it up.
    When the shooting gets tough, the tough gets shooting.

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    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    I took a look at the SYPA website and browsed through the winners gallery for b&w portraiture. Purely from my own observation, you shouldn't dun try too hard to 'create' a meaning. Tonal control (be it in camera or in PP) and having a stronger interaction between subject and viewer seems to be the common denominators. Of course if you can combine all 3 then all the power to you. In comparison to the TWO (you can tell which two hor!) 2008 winners' images, you can tell they seem to be a different level. Plus their composition greater differs.

    My advise is to concentrate on colour before venturing into b&w. As anyone can surmise from the gallery, it's far easier to create a beautiful/engaging colour photograph than a b&w one. b&w simply requires a different set of tools and mindset, so don't be dishearten. Come back to b&w when you've learnt more.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolutKev View Post
    nice composition. a real picture that tells a thousand words. a story in a page of life.

    u hav a bright future kid. keep it up.
    Thanks for the compliment.

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo View Post
    I took a look at the SYPA website and browsed through the winners gallery for b&w portraiture. Purely from my own observation, you shouldn't dun try too hard to 'create' a meaning. Tonal control (be it in camera or in PP) and having a stronger interaction between subject and viewer seems to be the common denominators. Of course if you can combine all 3 then all the power to you. In comparison to the TWO (you can tell which two hor!) 2008 winners' images, you can tell they seem to be a different level. Plus their composition greater differs.

    My advise is to concentrate on colour before venturing into b&w. As anyone can surmise from the gallery, it's far easier to create a beautiful/engaging colour photograph than a b&w one. b&w simply requires a different set of tools and mindset, so don't be dishearten. Come back to b&w when you've learnt more.
    I'm just hoping we're referring to the same people, but let's not point fingers. Yeah, one seems like a snapshot, while another.. just different.

    I understand your point about "telling a story" since to me, it doesn't matter how much details and such one can analyze from the photo by nitpicking, if a photo doesn't have a much impact on a first glance to a person, photographer or not, then it probably isn't a good one at all. Maybe I've a different mindset, I don't know!

    I'm not good with WB for portraiture, and they tend to be rather difficult to correct! It wasn't my plan at all to have anything to do with portraiture for SYPA, but since this shot came along, I guess it's decent enough to be submitted, prize-worthy or not, though not up to me to decide, I doubt so.

    I haven't viewed the SYPA winners of 2008 and 2006 until you pointed it out to me, and was always under the impression HDR wasn't allowed since

    1.7

    Images that are digitally enhanced or manipulated are allowed as long as the reality of the image is not distorted. The original negative, slide or digital files (of both the original and touched up images) of prize winning entries must be submitted for verification upon notification, failing which, the entries will be disqualified.
    But I guess HDR doesn't really fall under that category then.

    Thanks again for your C&C, hope I'm considered "receptive to ideas" instead of "stuck-up" since I seem to have something to say about every comment you give, but those words are meant without any ill-intentions, if any is felt.
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    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    I'm not talking about HDR when referring to tonal control. It has to do with understanding your camera's dynamic range and exposing the image to take the most advantage, and then follow up in post process.

    You can read this all the way to the end to give you an idea. And it's good you provide feedback, much better than someone saying "thanks i'll take note!".

  8. #8

    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo View Post
    I'm not talking about HDR when referring to tonal control. It has to do with understanding your camera's dynamic range and exposing the image to take the most advantage, and then follow up in post process.

    You can read this all the way to the end to give you an idea. And it's good you provide feedback, much better than someone saying "thanks i'll take note!".
    Whoops! A little misunderstanding here. I quoted the SYPA rules and regulation as the reason why I did B&W, though to think of it now, it does seem rather irrelevant. It was more to serve as a reminder to me that YAAAAAAY, HDR IS ALLOWED! Not that I think I'll be using it for SYPA, but at least it gave me a better grasp of what their "distorted reality" meant.

    From what I understand, tonal control is knowing how to capture(or maybe "bring out" would be more apt here) the greatest dynamic range of any scene, something like exposure blending?
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    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Linerax View Post
    From what I understand, tonal control is knowing how to capture(or maybe "bring out" would be more apt here) the greatest dynamic range of any scene, something like exposure blending?
    nono throw away HDR, in fact you can throw away anything digital related. Let's not bring digital post processing into tonal control for the moment. The principal idea is to capture everything you need in the camera itself in 1 image. RAW or Jpeg does not matter.... (well it does but let's overlook it for the moment).

    The other experts will talk about Ansel Adams and his zone system but frankly I only understand a fraction of it and only that which I apply to photography. Let's pretend my camera has a dynamic range of 10 stops (which incidently is also the range of Adam's zone system). At 0 is shadows with no detail & 10 highlights with no detail. At 1 & 9 is the least amount of detail and 5 is mid-grey where you want to meter from.

    So looking at the scene, you decide where your 5 zone is and where your 1 & 9 are. If your camera has a 10-range then you have little to worry about but if it only had a 8-range for example then you'll have to use your brain. Where do you place your 5 zone? Do you want to expose for highlights or shadows? Or do you meter excatly at zone 5 and leave highlights to blow and shadows in extreme black?

    So once you'll analysed the scene, metered accordingly and taken the shot comes post-processing. Now let's talk digital. if you shot in RAW then very amazingly there is much detail to be recovered in highlights and shadows, so nice save there. If even RAW cannot recover or if you want a better quality image then HDR should be considered. For images like yours above HDR would be overkill.

    There's a lot to read about, so please go explore! haha at work now cannot type so much.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Portraiture, or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo View Post
    nono throw away HDR, in fact you can throw away anything digital related. Let's not bring digital post processing into tonal control for the moment. The principal idea is to capture everything you need in the camera itself in 1 image. RAW or Jpeg does not matter.... (well it does but let's overlook it for the moment).

    The other experts will talk about Ansel Adams and his zone system but frankly I only understand a fraction of it and only that which I apply to photography. Let's pretend my camera has a dynamic range of 10 stops (which incidently is also the range of Adam's zone system). At 0 is shadows with no detail & 10 highlights with no detail. At 1 & 9 is the least amount of detail and 5 is mid-grey where you want to meter from.

    So looking at the scene, you decide where your 5 zone is and where your 1 & 9 are. If your camera has a 10-range then you have little to worry about but if it only had a 8-range for example then you'll have to use your brain. Where do you place your 5 zone? Do you want to expose for highlights or shadows? Or do you meter excatly at zone 5 and leave highlights to blow and shadows in extreme black?

    So once you'll analysed the scene, metered accordingly and taken the shot comes post-processing. Now let's talk digital. if you shot in RAW then very amazingly there is much detail to be recovered in highlights and shadows, so nice save there. If even RAW cannot recover or if you want a better quality image then HDR should be considered. For images like yours above HDR would be overkill.

    There's a lot to read about, so please go explore! haha at work now cannot type so much.
    Alright, thanks for the heads up, albeit it's a little mind boggling! I'll go do some reading on my own! I guess this concludes my C&C session for this photo. I can't say I've learnt a lot, but at least I've learnt(or am going to learn) something! Thanks foxtwo!
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