Unit 4 dealt with portraiture. For some reason, it was very difficult to complete, both from the technical and artistic points of view. I have taken portraits previously, but they have been somewhat spontaneous; lesson 4 imposed some discipline and, frankly, I struggled with that. I will say this: I have new-found appreciation for scenes and portraits that are set up using complex lighting arrangements. There's is a lot of math (or experience from trial and error) to getting exposures just right that TTL (through the lens) metering simply will not accomplish automatically. The other aspect of this unit is the appreciation I gained for flattering and unflattering shadows; several of the concepts I had pre-conceived really did not work. We'll see what my instructor, Walter Karling, thinks and I will share those comments when they are returned to me.Photo 1: Use window light for a portrait.
This is a picture of my best friend, Christine. I caught her early in the morning doing some work on her computer and noticed the way the light was coming in over her right shoulder giving a gentle back-lighting effect. Also, the wall in front of her was reflecting the window light and provide a very subtle fill for her face away from the window. What gets me are her eyes! This was worked in Adobe Camera Raw with some subtle adjustments and "demi" vignetting on the lower and left portions of the image. Indirect natural light provides a very flattering illumination of the model's face. Of technical note, I find the dynamic range of the Nikon D800E to be incredible as it is easy to pull out more than adequate detail in the shadow areas of an image. This was shot handheld with a Nikkor DX 85 mm micro lens at 1/250 sec, f/4, ISO 200. The 85 mm length on a full frame camera body makes for a nice portrait lens; the Nikkor f1.4 50 mm gives an effective 75 mm on a DX body and is superb. Even with the full frame, the DX 85 mm clips only the outermost corners and illumination is very even across the entire field of view.
Photo 2: Use one or two lights for a portrait.
This was a tough one. Getting the lights positioned correctly was a lot harder than I ever expected. Fortunately, my neighbor, Tina, needed a head and shoulders shot for her business as a teen and family counselor and was very patient as I fiddled with everything. While the focus is on her eyes, she is obviously a very beautiful woman and I find her Mediterranean features intriguing. I positioned an SB600 in slave mode to the left, facing away from the subject and firing into a reflective white umbrella to diffuse the light and highlight her hair and face. On the right side I used a white reflector card to subtly highlight and fill. Finally, I used the Nikon D800E's on camera flash as a master to provide front fill and control the SB600. The on camera flash was attenuated by a full stop to preserve some of the flattering shadowing provided by the other light sources. At full strength, it was way too bright and flattened her features. I thought the BW conversion fit her look better than the color version. Skin was softened a bit and the eyes were sharpened in Photoshop CS6. Nikkor f1.4 50 mm at f/2, 1/200 sec, and ISO 100. Crop factor was 1.2, so I essentially was using a 60 mm lens.
Photo 3: Make an indoor location portrait.
This shot was taken of my spouse one morning in Puerto Vallarta. We'd just finished our coffee and Christine was busy filing her nails while she was surrounded by this incredible morning light from the rising sun. This is sometimes called an environmental portrait, but I honestly cannot say whether the subject is her, engaged is such a typically feminine activity, or the light filtering through the sheers. This shot was with the 800E, the 24-120 Nikkor zoom at 24 mm, 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 200. This was processed in Adobe camera raw to bring out the shadows and while I exposed for the highlights, you can see the tremendous dynamic range of the camera as the shadow details were recoverable with very, very little noise. Beyond ACR, I desaturated to emphasize the light patterns and shadows.Photo 4: Photograph a young child.
This little lady I found at a local playground. Actually, she's my neighbor's daughter and she wanted some candid shots, which fit right along with my assignment. We just let her run around, doing what kids do naturally; pretty soon she either forgot about me or chose to ignore the camera. It was late in the afternoon and the setting sun provided a beautiful warmth to the pictures. I happened to catch her in an unguarded moment using my Nikon D7000 and Nikkor 18-200 zoom set at 200 mm, which is a 300 mm 35 mm film equivalent. Other than cropping, this was touched very little in ACR and I think conveys the sweetness of childhood. Exposure details were 1/160 sec, f/5.6, and ISO 100.Photo 4: Make a group portrait.
Some friends came by for some Christmas cheer and I thought it was a great opportunity to try to get a group portrait. The ladies were headed out for a party, dressed to the nines, so I took advantage by handing them a glass of wine and telling them to do what came naturally. They yukked it up and I snapped away. Forty-five degree side lightning with the SB600 was filled with the on camera flash. While the girls were laughing, Mom happened to glance my way. I could have posed them a little better to break up the line from shortest to tallest, but I liked the dynamic of their laughter. Nikon D800E, Nikkor 85 mm micro lens at f/8, 1/60 sec, and ISO 200.
Well, we'll see what Walter has to say about these shots in a few weeks. I am glad this unit is completed and I look forward to finishing the last two units ASAP. I am also excited to tell you that I will be taking a B&B weekend in April with Mark Alberhasky, a retired pathologist and Nikon Mentor. He has been featured in National Geographic, Popular Photography, etc. I can't wait to tell you all about it afterwards.