Tips for taking portrait shots


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Mystix

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#1
Hi...u guyz know most of the complaints from pple when they see their photos are that their face looks too puffed up or unatural.
so exactly why do this happen....is it because of the focals length that causes this distortion?
and if it is whats the focal length that has the least distortion? 50mm?
would appreciate those experienced ones to kindly share some tips on this pls. thanks
 

ziploc

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#2
Try using focal length of 50mm or above. The "typical" focal length for portraits is around 85-135mm, even though there are many times I found myself using the 200mm end too when I was using my 80-200. :) And nice bokeh is important, so choose the background carefully and open up the aperture to f/5.6 or below... most of the time I open it up widest at f/2.8.
 

#3
long lens...like 100-200 mm is quite important....with that kind of lens, the photographer make a wuite distance with the subject, so the subject can feel more relax - not under pressure....specially taken picture for someone u just know.
 

tomshen

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#4
Now i start using 50-500mm to take portrait at the 500mm end. Unbeatable bokeh... but i need a tripod!:bsmilie: :bsmilie:
 

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#5
besides the lens, i think lighting is very important to create 'depth' in faces. Careful place lighting will proper lit a face and flatter properly.
 

ziploc

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#6
Originally posted by Belle&Sebastain
besides the lens, i think lighting is very important to create 'depth' in faces. Careful place lighting will proper lit a face and flatter properly.
Ah yes... thanks for reminding. When shooting outdoor under strong sun light, use fill flash of about -1EV to soften the harsh shadow. Of course if you have reflectors and stuffs, by all means use them too... :)
 

tsdh

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#8
Originally posted by Mystix
thanks for all the advice. :)
think i'll start with a 50/1.8 first.
budget lah heheh
:) confuse with too many advise from experts? :)
just use your 50/1.8, it can also produce a good portrait, but don't too close to the subject, or it will distort. Take only half-body portrait, crop if you need head and shoulder.
Later buy those portrait lens, only if you really like portraiture.

The photo below, was taken using Canon FD lens 50/1.4 at around f/2 without flash, without reflector, just daylight from the window on the left.
 

Bean

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#9

Using an extremely wide aperture definately throws the background out of focus. However, the extreme shallow depth of field will cause the subject to look unnatural.

To elaborate, if the protrait is very close-up, the plane where the eyes is will be sharp, but anywhere nearer or further will be slightly blur on the subject's face due to the shallow depth of field. When this happens, this will not look natural to us as when we look at people with our eyes, we are used to seeing the whole face in focus.

:)
 

Simon

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#12
Originally posted by tomshen
Now i start using 50-500mm to take portrait at the 500mm end. Unbeatable bokeh... but i need a tripod!:bsmilie: :bsmilie:
Sickma 50-500mm botah, not bokeh ;p
 

tsdh

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#13
Originally posted by Bean
Using an extremely wide aperture definately throws the background out of focus. However, the extreme shallow depth of field will cause the subject to look unnatural.
To elaborate, if the protrait is very close-up, the plane where the eyes is will be sharp, but anywhere nearer or further will be slightly blur on the subject's face due to the shallow depth of field. When this happens, this will not look natural to us as when we look at people with our eyes, we are used to seeing the whole face in focus.
:)
That's true for general portraiture, and that's should be the starting point for beginners.
However, for the more experienced, there are many styles of portraiture. While sharpness on subject's face is important for documentary portrait, but not always true for art-portraiture. Portraiture is a domain within the world of photography, with a lot of possibilities in there. Not just one classic guideline: look to the lens, smile, sharp ("look at the birdie" style).

Here I give you two example photos taken by 2 different pros (these photos are part of their portfolio).

Taken by Peter Laqua with 85mm lens at f/1.8, a very narrow depth of field.


Taken by Rudi Muhlbauer using 6x6 format with 80mm lens at f/2.8, 1 second exposure. Agfa Pan 100 b&w film, printed on Kodak Ektacolor paper, result with magenta cast.
 

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