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sclewin
03-11-2009, 10:12 AM
Well, not really a portrait, but a picture to be used on Facebook. My wife wants me to take a new picture for her Facebook photo and I want to take a nice shot. Something where she, and everybody else, can see her the way I do.

When I first got the camera I took a picture of her, but not knowing how to use the camera that well I made a few mistakes and the photo is not that very good.

What I am asking here is how to take the best picture of someone?

sclewin
03-11-2009, 10:15 AM
If it helps, here is the first picture I took and screwed up on.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3604/3346958506_97d03dba74.jpg?v=0

kat
03-11-2009, 10:22 AM
Hi!

My suggestion is to

1. Have the light coming from the front not the back of her. Most times when I shoot, I use the light from my window and not a midday light.

2. I'd also suggest that the focus be on her face, eyes to be exact.

3. I'm not sure if your wife wants to have a closer head shot but that may make number 2 easier for you.

4. If you can, maybe move the vaccuum cleaner :)

You will get better, more extensive tips than what i gave you so hold on!! Help is coming!!

tirediron
03-11-2009, 11:01 AM
Kat's advice is spot on. To that which she has mentioned, I'll add: Shoot at her eye level rather that up at her; find a plain background, a medium or darker tone to contrast her hair and skin, crop more tightly on her head and shoulders, and avoid cropping little bits of body parts (in this case the upper portion of her left arm). Bold crops are fine, provided they don't bisect a joint, but little bits tend to give the impression of careless composition.

Looking forward to the Mk II version!

Marko
03-11-2009, 11:23 AM
All good advice so far:highfive:

I'd like to add that most portraits are done with a larger apertures so that the background blurs out a bit which makes the subject stand out more. Most portraits are also shot with longer lenses or focal lengths around 85-100mm and more. That rule is not etched in stone but it is the norm for most pros that I Know.
Hope that helps
Marko

sclewin
03-11-2009, 11:54 AM
All great advice so far, but there are a couple things I should mention. Even though Facebook pictures are normally of a person's face, my wife wants a shot of her body as well because she haves lost some weight recently and wants to show it off :). Also, the only lens I have to chose from is the one that came with the camera which is a 18-70mm lens. I do plan to save up for a telescopic lens for later.

kat
03-11-2009, 12:07 PM
All great advice so far, but there are a couple things I should mention. Even though Facebook pictures are normally of a person's face, my wife wants a shot of her body as well because she haves lost some weight recently and wants to show it off :). Also, the only lens I have to chose from is the one that came with the camera which is a 18-70mm lens. I do plan to save up for a telescopic lens for later.


I enjoyed this podcast. I really think you might get something out of it. It's about posing.

http://www.photography.ca/blog/?p=58

I think your first step is to go over what poses would work well for what image you want. Listen to this podcast, it may help for this. Do some image searches on the internet. Once you and your wife have a couple poses, next thing to think of is where to shoot. Good lighting is a must. Even if it's in the shade but a good light. May I ask what shooting mode you are using right now? Shoot and shoot. Take lots of photos! Look up some jokes and say them to your wife to get a great big smile! Remember to get that focus on her eyes!! They are the window to our soul after all!

Marko
03-11-2009, 12:10 PM
I'd use the 70 mm end then or close to it...I'd try that first anyway...then play around. If you want to show off the body, then take a few where she is turned 45 degrees. Most women look better in that pose than straight on.

BlueX
03-11-2009, 04:02 PM
It also looks like there is some camera shake so a tripod or some kind of support will help improve the quality of the shot. I also think you should clean up the background a bit or chose a background with less distractions if you can't get a shallow depth of field. I'm not sure how much effort and time you two want to put into this production, but dressing up a little and posing can also improve things (horizontal strips are unually not very flattering).

Here's a website filled with tips and videos on taking portraits and looking good in pictures:

http://www.lookgoodinpictures.com/

kat
03-11-2009, 04:11 PM
It also looks like there is some camera shake so a tripod or some kind of support will help improve the quality of the shot. I also think you should clean up the background a bit or chose a background with less distractions if you can't get a shallow depth of field. I'm not sure how much effort and time you two want to put into this production, but dressing up a little and posing can also improve things (horizontal strips are unually not very flattering).

Here's a website filled with tips and videos on taking portraits and looking good in pictures:

http://www.lookgoodinpictures.com/

Ha ha..I couldn't help but smile at that video! :)

BlueX
03-11-2009, 04:18 PM
Ha ha..I couldn't help but smile at that video! :)

Which one? Carson is quite a character!

kat
03-11-2009, 04:20 PM
A Walk In the Park. He's so full of energy you can't help but smile!

I tell yah though..I wish I could get to know my camera on one date with it :P

He had some great tips for starting out though..and he does know his fashion!!

BlueX
03-11-2009, 04:36 PM
Yeah, that site is a good source of info. I usually didn't pay attention to these things when taking picutures of people, but it really matters when you want a good looking pic.

sclewin
03-11-2009, 06:28 PM
I'm not sure how much effort and time you two want to put into this production, but dressing up a little and posing can also improve things (horizontal strips are unually not very flattering).
Its for Facebook, so I don't want to place too much effort into the picture. Also, because it is for facebook, the picture will need to be casual.

I am just using this opportunity to learn about my new camera (a Sony Alpha 200) and to learn a little about photography.

mindforge
03-12-2009, 01:07 AM
Great advice from everyone so far. I'll repeat a few things here probably.

1. Light.Light.Light. Move some stuff around, use a window and put a white sheet on the other side opposite the window to bounce some light back on on her. Shut off lights that might conflict with the sunlight of the window. If you can keep it out of the shot, put a white sheet on the ground too, unless you want to go more dramatic from the window - in that case, use only the window light (you can use a black sheet on the other side to kill reflections off your white walls.

2. I had a Sony a200 (given to my mother now) and don't use the lens at 70mm... bring it back just a little down to 50-60mm.. the 70mm on that kit lens is not its best spot, just dial back a little bit.

3. The background is just as important. You can put her standing in front of a window, put house plants behind her (or something interesting). Get something in the foreground if you can, just to create some dimension to the image.

Instead of thinking about this as "just a thing for her facebook", get into it and try to take the best picture you ever have. Take an hour or two and get into it.

kkjensen
06-18-2009, 07:57 AM
my wife wants a shot of her body as well because she haves lost some weight recently and wants to show it off :).

This subject could use a podcast all of it's own (hint hint) but the old saying of 'the camera adds 10 lbs' is true for a bunch of reasons and I try to keep it in mind in my own photos as I've been the subject a few times and been appalled at the results. Anyone sensitive about weight is also sensitive about cameras and thus mixing the two is a delicate matter. Every shot taken (and shown) should show good results or the trust and self-esteem of the subject diminishes and fewer photos get taken and you end up with either a family member, friend or client who doesn't end up in many shots because they've become self conscious. We all know a good shot makes the subject look good and this is always a good thing.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a pro, just learned a few things and want to throw it out there for discussion.

I've also lost weight and am trying to produce my own anti-fat-Kris propoganda to counter some of these shots that were taken when either I was unprepared or the photographer didn't think about un-photogenic the subject was at the time...there's nothing quite like getting an email sent to the whole extended family by my mother with a side profile shot of pasty-white me stooping over a sandcastle ruining a beautiful frame of the kids on a beach! :headslap: ...nobody was looking at the castle, that's for sure! But hey, the contrast between those shots and my new ones will just show a bigger difference now :) Thanks mom, I love you!

Anyway, here's what I've picked up so far...please add to the list as I'm sure there great advice out there to be had

SITTING:
Avoid sitting shots since sitting down presses against the backs of legs and arms, making them appear wider than normal. Couch and easy chair cushions make this effect even worse. Sitting on a stool is okay if you don't see legs in the shot.

STANDING:
Posing a subject isn't my forte but I wish there were more videos like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8YZIL8JZfg) to demonstrate things... Take a look at the before/after pictures used in marketing anything regarding weight loss or exercise: Before...straight on shot. After...often better in every way: pose, light, focal length, etc.

LENSES:
Back up a bit and use a longer lens (or use the longest your lens will zoom to). This will help with the distortion in the picture that makes objects closer to the lens look larger than those far away. A wide-angle head shot make big noses, big shoulders, etc. This distortion CAN work for you though if you have two subjects who are significantly different sizes...put the smaller one closer to the camera and the contrast between the two is diminished.

DEPTH OF FIELD:
Open up the aperture to soften the background (the further the background from the subject the softer it will be so don't stand them right in front of something if you want this effect).
Make absolutely certain that the eyes are in focus! Get everything else right and even manual focus the eyes if you have to... Autofocus is great but I haven't seen one that can nail this down perfectly.

LIGHTING:
Natural, soft, balanced light is great but sometimes hard to come by. I've started using a speedlight and reflecting off the roof to illuminate shots in my house. This softens the light and illuminates the whole room so you get less of the deer-in-the-headlights effect from using the on-camera flash pointed straight at the subject. I'll probably end up investing in one of those light-sphere diffusers soon since light coming from the roof tends to cast shadows under double chins. HELP!


'Trimming my fat' in photos has taught me a lot and it seems to be an almost mathematical equation that isn't covered by any single setting in a camera...at least not in mine...

JAS_Photo
06-18-2009, 11:21 AM
Good suggestions! Thanks.

Vladimir Naumoff
11-17-2009, 09:34 AM
I agree with all members above and this is just a reminder that when you uploading your photo to Facebook it crops it. So make sure you give a little space on the sides for the cropping. I think it gives you a cropping dimensions on your profile page. If you resizing your picture from large to small it's better to shoot your portrait with 100mm macro lens. or set your lens at 50mm and use your legs to get her in focus. The cropped sensor will convert your 50mm to 85mm which is industry standard for portraiture.

Kawarthabob
03-22-2010, 12:31 PM
I don't want to sound mean but it looks like your wife really didn't want her pic taken. It looks as if she just finished house work and the eye leads into the noisy backround with the vacuum and all. Plan a night out to dinner or whatever and she will be all "dressed up to the nines" ( hair, makeup etc) then take her pic when she feels good and has a smile on her face. Try shooting outside and use manual focus so the backround is blurred a bit. that way she will be the object , not the stuff in the backround.

Pharaoh
05-23-2010, 04:48 PM
Most portraits are also shot with longer lenses or focal lengths around 85-100mm and more. That rule is not etched in stone but it is the norm for most pros that I Know.
Hope that helps
MarkoJust curious,

Does this hold true with ((less than full frame)) DSLRs? I'm not a heavily invested in portrait photography but am contemplating being minimally prepared. Closest thing I have to what I believe is portrait caliber glass is a 50mm f 1:4 lense.

From casual observation, I've noticed a friend as well as some others who's portraits I've seen, have often had focal lengths 85mm or less.

I guess one thing I'm trying to calculate (unscientifically) is whether or not the necessary back off from the subject with a non full frame couldn't, by old portrait standards, be achieved / optimal with a smaller sized lens?

Thanks.

Mad Aussie
05-23-2010, 06:20 PM
Closest thing I have to what I believe is portrait caliber glass is a 50mm f 1:4 lens
I really like my little 50mm 1.8 for portrait if I have room to move. It creates a nice DOF.

Marko
05-25-2010, 10:19 AM
I've shot plenty of (somewhat unusual)portraits with a 24mm...
You can use whatever you want.... you do get more reach with a non full frame camera due to the crop factor.

For me though, 50mm is short for portraits (not street photography...formal or semiformal portraits) even on a non full frame. 85mm+ seems right to me.
You may consider a decent zoom that covers that range.

At the end of the day though it really depends how serious you want to get. If you are just dabbling...then use what you have. It will work just fine ...you'll just need to get closer to your subject:twocents:

pop123
06-25-2010, 09:21 AM
Kat's advice is spot on. To that which she has mentioned, I'll add: Shoot at her eye level rather that up at her; find a plain background, a medium or darker tone to contrast her hair and skin, crop more tightly on her head and shoulders, and avoid cropping little bits of body parts (in this case the upper portion of her left arm). Bold crops are fine, provided they don't bisect a joint, but little bits tend to give the impression of careless composition.
Canon EF-S 18-135MM F/3.5-5.6 IS AF (http://www.upiq.com/api.php?pid=89828397)