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Thread: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

  1. #1
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    Default Portrait Shots by a Newbie

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    Hello, basically I was trying to bring a mood of intimacy by taking a photo of how the subject's features blend with their shadow/dark areas. The images were inspired by a book entitled In Praise of the Shadow. Let me know to what extend that these images can reflect the theme that I have just explained. Also, do comment on my composition and PP works as I am generally quite weak in these areas. Thank you!
    Last edited by knoxknocks; 29th May 2010 at 04:35 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by kkennoob View Post
    Hello, basically I was trying to bring a mood of intimacy by taking a photo of how the subject's features blend with their shadow/dark areas. The images were inspired by a book entitled In Praise of the Shadow. Let me know to what extend that these images can reflect the theme that I have just explained. Also, do comment on my composition and PP works as I am generally quite weak in these areas. Thank you!
    I don't get a mood of intimacy, maybe a mood of playfulness by how she's puffing her cheek. Usually portraits focus on the eyes of the subject? Of course in this case can't see her eyes, but her other features are also too obscured by dark shadows and hair...PP seems to be towards a blue/green tint, artistic purpose? In general, i'm not sure which part of the picture is focused, it's just too dark to tell...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

    Don't really understand what you are trying to get across.

    But the colour and tone remind me of "The Ring". Yet the nature of the subject does not match. Like trying to place a happy and cheerful person in a dark and scary background with greenish ambient light. The feeling is confusing and contradicting.

  4. #4

    Thumbs up Re: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

    Hello there, thanks for sharing your work! Takes a bit of courage to ask for a critique for someone new as yourself, hopefully you'll get more insight.

    Now let's get down to business.
    I was trying to bring a mood of intimacy by taking a photo of how the subject's features blend with their shadow/dark areas.
    As cityhunter66 has mentioned, from her pose, it doesn't look intimate. Intimacy should strike as a sort of special feeling/connection between two people, in this case the girl and the photographer. A couple of problems: First, it's the cheek-puffing. As mentioned, she looks more 'playful' in the photograph: A smirk or even a simple smile would've been more relevant and interesting. Second, she's wearing shades. The easiest way to portray an intimate feeling is through the person's eyes. You've probably heard the quote, "The eyes are the windows to a person's soul". Cliche, but it's true.

    Now, contrasting and colour blending is difficult if you're new and starting out. One common mistake is to OVER contrast a photograph (I am guilty of this) because it always seems nicer at first glance. But after having to edit a lot of photos through the years, I realise that sometimes it is actually better to REDUCE the contrast depending on the photograph. This photograph, imho, looks over contrasted. I think a way to counter this problem is actually converting the image to black & white (greyscale), which at the same time, addresses the blue/greenish tint problem.

    The colours blue/green aren't usually colours I would relate to intimacy. Have you considered using red/pink? Like Eworms said, it's actually conflicting and makes it seem like the opposite of an intimate image. The surprising thing is that even in black & white, relevant images can (and usually strongly) portray intimacy.

    As for composition, in my opinion (and from what I have learnt), is to never have the subject of focus directly in the centre of the image (unless called for specifically). From this photo, I can assume you've cropped it intentionally that her face in the centre. Maybe if you didn't crop it into a square, and instead left the top slightly longer (or bottom, depends on the original image), it might have worked better.

    Another problem is that she is facing directly towards the camera, which makes it kinda flat (especially after the contrast); The salvation however comes from the background, which keeps the depth. By having her to pose a bit (or even tilting herself slightly), it could make a difference. Also, because of the elements in the background (the other passers-by), it kind of loses that feeling of intimacy as well, because, well, better for it to be a private moment right?
    The images were inspired by a book entitled In Praise of the Shadow.
    I have searched this online, did you mean the Japanese book "In Praise of Shadows"? In any case I haven't got a chance to read or see any examples so I can't compare to that. :P

    So that's my two-cents on your photograph, and I hope what I've mentioned helps. Don't be discouraged if people can't see what you see: We all have to start somewhere! Keep practicing, and you'll eventually be able to grasp the understanding of how to make a work work!

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    Default Re: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

    hey thanks for the comments, I think the comments so far are really helpful. just a question, under what circumstances that a dark picture with high contrast like the above are appropriate? thank you. oh and thank you xuthiensun, I will continue practicing it! anyway, it's actually a book that was talking about shadow and dim light, how these light qualities can create an intimacy ambience to the viewer's eyes. It's basically going on to say that shadow and dim light has been pretty much being a part of asians' cultures until recent centuries when the west colonized the east, and therefore changing the cultures in asia. This is because as contrast to asians, the western generally likes white and shining object. go look up it, it's cheap and a good read!

    anyway, here's another picture with the similar theme. Again, I hope to get critic on the composition and pp technique here. thanks everyone!


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    Default Re: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by kkennoob View Post
    hey thanks for the comments, I think the comments so far are really helpful. just a question, under what circumstances that a dark picture with high contrast like the above are appropriate? thank you. oh and thank you xuthiensun, I will continue practicing it! anyway, it's actually a book that was talking about shadow and dim light, how these light qualities can create an intimacy ambience to the viewer's eyes. It's basically going on to say that shadow and dim light has been pretty much being a part of asians' cultures until recent centuries when the west colonized the east, and therefore changing the cultures in asia. This is because as contrast to asians, the western generally likes white and shining object. go look up it, it's cheap and a good read!

    anyway, here's another picture with the similar theme. Again, I hope to get critic on the composition and pp technique here. thanks everyone!


    I would feel intimacy if it's kinda lighting like those in bedroom...soft and could see enough details for intimacy..

    This is really more overdone than the first one...this is scary as there's a head that came out from the wall..
    ...:::..::.Nikon.::.:::..
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

    Yup, I will have to agree with ovaltinemilo. The contrast for the picture does not work, the subject and the background are merged and only the face is the most obvious focus of the picture, plus she looks a bit surprised, as if you've taken the photo without her permission. :P However, I do sense some subtle softness on the light that falls on the girl's face, so that could be a plus to it.

    Though intimacy doesn't necessarily mean it has to be taken in a bedroom though, it could be in a garden or a park too. I think the common problems between the two photographs you've posted are: the way the subjects pose and location.

    Keep shooting, and eventually you'll achieve the effect you're looking for.

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    Default Re: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

    Hey thanks. Actually the theme of the series are not just about intimacy but also about how the dark area of the subject blend with their surrounding, only a subtle difference between them as not to let the viewer see everything with just a glance but to observe more carefully and study the subject. Haha, maybe I haven't done it very well but thanks anyway will continue experimenting

  9. #9

    Default Re: Portrait Shots by a Newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by kkennoob View Post
    Hey thanks. Actually the theme of the series are not just about intimacy but also about how the dark area of the subject blend with their surrounding, only a subtle difference between them as not to let the viewer see everything with just a glance but to observe more carefully and study the subject. Haha, maybe I haven't done it very well but thanks anyway will continue experimenting
    I think for this kind of emphasis on the tonal range in the shadow side of the image, you need to shoot in raw mode, edit the image in 16 bit during raw conversion to get max amount of manipulation without throwing away details uneccessarily.

    A good starting point, is to get the range of tones u want by using the sliders in the Adobe raw converter(takes some amount of time but provides more precise adjustment than Level). Normally, I can get very good B&W images from just using the sliders alone; It's non-destructive at all.

    For the dark side of the subject to blend with the surrounding, most probably the subject is under an open shade, facing a window inside a building, in a narrow walkway flanked by tall buildings,........ or when the sun is setting/rising, providing a directional light to 1 side of the subject.

    The above scenerios probably have 1 thing in common, that is, the light comes from 1 direction. That means that the shaded area of the subject will blend nicely with the surrounding which is also shaded.

    Observation of the background is important, but the 1st image u posted has bright building behind the subject. I am afraid no amount of PS will give u the effect u want. The 2nd image is slightly better, but the post processing is too aggressive; Composition is a bit tight too. U may want to include more of the surrounding to support the idea of the subject blending with the surrrounding.

    ;

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