July 28, 2013 at 10:46 am #99102
This photo was part of a test shoot to familiarize myself with my new Pocket Wizard AC3 controller.
Camera Body: Canon Rebel Xsi
Glass: Canon 50mm 1:1.8 II
Flash: 2-Canon EX430 II – Key flash in 40″ softbox, secondary flash through 42″ umbrella
Flash Settings: ETTL
Shot Settings: f8, 1/250 second
I liked this shot so I thought I would let the “sharks” comment!
July 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm #99168
This portrait could have been improved by softer lighting and a less awkward pose. I would like to see more of the hair and face shown by some back lighting and also the use of reflected light to enhance her facial features.
Being unfamiliar with the AC3 controller I am unable to comment on its use.
Thank you for posting.
July 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm #99177
Thanks, I could dial down the key light which was coming from the left side of the photo and dialed the secondary flash up a notch (on the right side of the photo), possibly putting it in a soft box as well. Another thing might be to move the flash units closer to soften the light as well as re-position the secondary flash a little more to the front to illuminate the face better. Also a rim light from behind would define her hair better.
The AC3 controller is a fantastic device that gives so much control over the flash units, I just have to learn how to use it to its fullest extent.
Again, thanks for the critique.
July 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm #99211
I would get a lot more light in the shadows. It is always the eyes that make a portrait. You can hardly see her eyes. Have her turn her face toward the light more.
July 29, 2013 at 12:43 am #99261
There are two tiny spheres in both glasses just below the upper rim … I first thought it was lint on my screen but nope … and they are not in her eyes and are no catchlights.
You liked this shot, but did the model? Unless there is a specific purpose for the pose and the dress, why on earth would you draw the viewers attention to a pair of sagging breasts and a half-revealed tattoo on one of them? Plus that heavy skin fold just above her left breast and below the armpit (in the photo this is on the right). I honestly don’t think that a woman her age should wear this kind of dress for a posed upper body portrait shot.
When looking at it in high-res, nothing seems to be in focus. The shadows seem still rather harsh.
I find the skin tone colour-version definitely not to her advantage and would experiment with B&W instead.
The right side of her face needs some brightening up and the folds could do with some smoothening .
There seems to be a part of a chair or sth similar peeking out in the lower left hand corner which I find distracting as I cannot see it anywhere else which means it is of no importance. That said, I also think that her right arm on that side should not be cropped like this.
I just think you didn’t show her from her best side but there might be more to the story we do not know …
July 29, 2013 at 1:07 am #99264
That does it! I can’t hold back any more. A dress critic. This may well be the woman he loves. She might be overweight, sagging, tattoed, short sighted and aging but that’s the way it is with some people. The photo has delivered the goods on all that. Like my comment on the fat guy on the bike, if the photo delivers the goods, that’s all that counts. This is a photo of one hell of a woman and who in their right mind would want it any different.
July 29, 2013 at 1:28 am #99266
In this forum she is a model and it is a photo and it has been thrown into the shark tank.
I am a proponent of how the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado describes it: “If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things.”
I did ask how the model felt about the photo … or would that not matter?
July 29, 2013 at 1:46 am #99267
July 29, 2013 at 2:14 am #99275
I think in a forum like this we have to be careful not to throw the gauntlet for the wrong reason. If a member submits a photo, whatever personal attachment there might be, should not play a part in the critique. It should not matter what the subject of the photo is, we still look at it from all angles.
It is much easier with landscapes, travel photos, wildlife and a few others but when it comes to people, I do think that we photographers also have a duty which is to make the other person, the model, look their best whatever their age, physical shape, etc. I am not talking about glamour shots but I am talking about making them come across as someone others would take an interest in. Documentary style photos are of course an exception.
We all have shots which do not meet those criteria but perhaps we should think twice before making them public or we need to be prepared to take some heat.
My intention was not to insult and if anyone felt I did, I honestly apologise. If the forum’s moderators feel that I crossed an (invisible) line, please feel free to delete my post but in general I expressed what I would think if this photo crossed my desk for a critique or analysis.
@tomdinning, with all respect, I find your comment that you can’t hold back anymore interesting as it would make me assume that your were waiting for something like this to step in. I respect what you are defending but from my POV it has nothing to do with the photograph as such. I hope we can move on after here without getting into shark-fights too often.
July 29, 2013 at 3:33 am #99292
I find these “discussions” interesting. One of the good things about this forum is I can pick and choose from the comments what I want to take as constructive criticism and separate those parts from what I perceive as personal preferences. @fidelito has some valid technical points and those I take to heart. As for his remarks about my wife, I can let those slide as those are, in my opinion, his personal tastes and after all, his comments are not the definitive authoritative but just that, his personal view. @tomdinning, thanks for your view as well.
July 29, 2013 at 4:14 am #99303
Sometimes the pose / look etc of a model affects a photo. That’s ok.
Just keep it respectful.
July 29, 2013 at 5:18 am #99307
July 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm #99436
Absolutely no respect intended @fidelito. There are two things under discussion here. One is the photo and the other is the appearance of the woman. If you don’t like the photo that’s fine. If you don’t like the look of the woman that’s fine as well. Just don’t get your wires crossed. Neither of your comments has anything to do with the quality of the image, like most comments in this thread.
As for her appearance, this may be as good as she gets or wants to be. This is the woman @bodwell is married to and it may be the way he wants to see her. ‘ nobility’ in a human isn’t judged by how someone looks to you or me.
What is insulting is your assumption that you know what you’re talking about here.
July 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm #99437
You have to be kidding. You started this. Asking people to be blunt and courteous is like asking Mohamed Ali not to hit so hard.
Here we have random shots being thrown at innocent bystanders without some means of defense. It beats me why it’s so bloody popular. People must be masochistic . And you must be desperate for the numbers, Rob. Popular doesn’t necessarily mean helpful. Every day for years you have provided good advise to budding photographers and good opportunities to generate discussion. That’s what distinguishes this site from all others. Little of this stuff here is helpful. It’s nit-picking, discouraging, irrelevant, inaccurate and beneath you dignity.
Whatever came over you?
July 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm #99476
I have to agree with most if not all @fidelito said, though perhaps not HOW he chose to convey it. It came across more as a critique of the model instead of the photographer and the choices he made in regard to the image. Thus far in this conversation there are only male voices. Though I do not know if the model likes this picture of herself or not, I have to say that I don’t find it to be a flattering representation. Perhaps that was the intent, and if so should have been stated. As a female, I like the pictures shared of me to be flattering. I delete self portraits that are not and I do not feel at all shy about using the photoshop tools at my disposal to enhance my appearance, and I do the same for my clients-glamour shot or not. Perhaps if we knew WHY or WHAT made this particular shot a favorite, we could speak to that.
For what I might have done differently though…
To flatter… shoot with a wider aperture and focus on the eyes, letting focus fall off lines and shadows. Shoot from above the eye line to minimize anything unflattering under the chin and neck. Depending on the physical capability of the model, request them to raise their chin, push it out, and then bring it down also helps create a flattering chin line. Lifting up tall through the spine and bringing the shoulders forward also helps stretch and lengthen as well as taking trouble areas away from the focal plane making them fall out of light and look smaller. (lots of great posing advice on Youtube and Sue Bryce is awesome at this!)
To create mood, drama, and character… Stop down the aperture big time, and kick up the shutter speed as high as your flash sync will let you to get rid of the ambient light as much as possible and point the lights(on manual flash) to the parts of the face and body you really want to emphasize and keep that area relatively narrow. Posing could still be the same as above, or not depending on the story/mood you are trying to convey.
As per the format of critique going on in here…I believe it is simply an attempt to get users to register constructive criticism that we can use to improve our photography. Positive commentary doesn’t do much to sharpen your skills and that is why I think we see so many masochists here-their ardent desire to improve, more so than self flagellation. Personally I prefer a critique sandwich-starting with positive-what one or two things I like or what is strong and then move to 2 or 3(or more) things than could be improved upon, stated in the way I would have done it-simply because this is an art and thereby subjective. Finally I try to end with something positive. I think you can be positive here, just know that sugar is actually sweeter when there is a little salt in the recipe too.
That said, I end on this note…I think she has very nice features(mouth, skin) and interesting jewelry both have which could have been showcased differently for more impact.
July 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm #99479
I just want to say one more thing … I have absolutely no problem with the model … maturer faces make for more interesting portraits as I believe that one can see much more into the soul than when looking at the average glamour shot of a young and pretty face/body …
… but I have a tremendous problem with how she was presented which is why I would love to know whether she liked the photo and approved of this image to be shown to the world how limited the audience may be … yes, I do criticise the dress in this image as it does not enhance her appearance, personality, beauty or if it does, it does it a wrong way.
Of course this is my personal opinion but this is what I am asked to express in this forum and by all means I can be overruled a thousand times by others. Often a story changes the way we look at pictures but there was no story here, just a practice shot for a new pocket wizard controller.
I somehow find it hard to imagine that @bodwell wasn’t expecting that this photo would create some controversy beyond its technical aspects …
I think the only true authority on this image can be the model herself …
July 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm #99483
Finally, a critique of the nature I was looking for. Thank you @jujujems32! As I stated when I posted the photo, the primary reason I was shooting was to familiarize myself with the flash controller. We were not in a portrait shoot but I liked the shot primarily because I saw possibilities for something at a later date. I thought I would throw the photo out to the shark tank and get some food for thought for a future session. You have done just that. You have imparted some truly usable knowledge and experience in a manor that reflects what I believed to be the intent of this forum. Again, thank you.
@fidelito, as I said earlier, I took your technical critique to heart, and yes, before I posted this photo I did try b/w but I wasn’t satisfied with the results, of course the original image has to be good in the first place. To answer your question about the models feelings, she was more than willing to let me post the photo to help me improve myself. I am very fortunate to have a wife of such good nature. Call me naive but no, I did not expect for this to generate the controversy that it has. You too provided very useful input but perhaps your manner of communicating it might need a little polishing?
July 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm #99484
July 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm #99488
I agree with @fidelito. My first impression was that she should cover herself up. And it has nothing to do with her age. I dislike even teenagers exposing so much of their breasts. It seems modesty does not exist anymore. A different top would make the photo much more appealing.
Other than that, as others have already mentioned, her face is too shadowed and those two light spots (what I suppose are glare spots on her glasses) are very distracting. Could the picture be taken without the glasses on, or the flashes arranged in a way that the glare wouldn’t occur?
July 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm #99536
First post, so be gentlish;
Fascinating thread. IMO the discussion got a bit sidetracked because (if I understand correctly) the shot was taken to try out and evaluate lighting equipment more than to create a particular image.
I’m not expert enough with studio lights to comment, but got drawn in by another issue… does an image have to be attractive?
Especially on the Club Competition scene, I watch with horror as the system grinds down originality and experimentation. Judges seem to think it vital that they have been to the site of your image.
Everything has to be perfectly retouched in PS, just like life is!
You can’t enter a soft-focussed image until you are in the expert group.
Fred goes to somewhere like Whitby and takes Goth images and wins a competition; so for the next 6 months everybody else rushes off to replicate the “good” shot. Probably using the same tripod marks!
Another member pays a fat wrinkled Cuban Grandma to pose for what is presented as an impromptu travel shot of her smoking a huge cigar – so I must get that shot to prove that I can afford to be a “serious photographer” – and next year it’ll be Vietnam…
Jaded judges (tired of seeing the same old same old) start dismissing images with comments like “Bird on a stick” – “ we’ve all got this shot” etc.
And god forbid humour should creep into the subject or title!
If we go by the “perfection” sold to us by the advertising industry and sections of the photography world, then most of us are at best fair to middling.
The world is there raw in tooth and claw for us to capture and interpret photographically; if what we produce is an endless line of chocolate box pictures, we are not showing the truth.
I’ll post something for critique in due course, and if it is a self-portrait, I don’t care whether you think me hideous or fall instantly in love; tell me what could be done to make the picture more interesting, have more impact or be better technically.
July 30, 2013 at 2:27 am #99569
July 30, 2013 at 7:57 am #99636
I’m a newcomer and joined at this particular moment just so I could throw myself into the Shark Tank on critiquing this photo. Hi, everyone!
I think this critique got took a wrong turn with fidelito’s comments on the subject’s dress and body. Not only were the comments rude, they were irrelevant in this forum. This is not What Not to Wear or a Jillian Michael’s infomercial. Consequently what got lost, IMO, was any discussion of the composition of this photo. It’s not clear to me what the subject of the photo is. Is it a portrait? If so, then why is the head stuck up at the top of the photo space with the crown actually going out of the picture? Why is the lighting centered on her torso and her face poorly lit? If you drag your eyes up to her face, you’re then led right on out of the photo. If, OTOH, this photo was about the body of an older, not so svelte woman (just like me, BTW), then why was the face included but relegated to darkness and the edge of the photo? Actually, the same comment would apply even if the subject had a gorgeous body and/or was wearing a stunning piece of clothing. The basic problem is that it’s not clear what I’m supposed to be looking at.
In some ways it is indeed an interesting photo and I understand why you like it, bodwell, but I think both the composition and the lighting need to be reconsidered. In terms of the composition, I think that cropping the photo to have the bottom edge be just at the at the pendant on her necklace would, along with better lighting, create a striking and memorable portrait.
July 30, 2013 at 10:06 am #99665
I guess I’m in the @fidelito camp. I would never post a portrait here. I don’t shoot them. I know studio lighting very well. I can make off camera flash work as well as a combination of on and off camera flash. Lighting is something that I’ve studied for a long time. But… I don’t do portraits. I don’t do them because I believe that, as a photographer, it’s on us to pull put the very best of whomever we are photographing and I don’t want that level of responsibility. I have grudgingly shot a wedding and I don’t do those either. I have never once had a mountain, seascape, or form of wildlife ever complain about how I posed them :o) I did make a momma skunk mad once but I survived that one unscathed.
This is a critique forum. Looking back over @fidelito‘s other critiques it’s pretty obvious that he understands what makes a good image. I think the OP has handled the comments well. In the end, that’s what a critique is, an opinion.
Done right… this forum won’t always be emotionally positive but if your intent is to grow as a photographer then tough (and resilient) skin is a must.
If you want to see tough… Enter your work on The Grid when someone like Peter Hurley is critiquing. He’s a nice guy and a great portrait photographer (one of many). His comments about the expression of the model were spot on imho.
This forum ain’t tough…
July 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm #99696
It’s out of focus.
I’m not a particular fan of the angle or cropping.
Lighting – either too much, or not enough. It’s not balanced feeling enough for a straight portrait, nor stark enough for high drama.
How do you like the pocket wizard?
July 30, 2013 at 1:47 pm #99713
I agree with some of the top comments, the pose I feel was a bit awkward. You could try a different pose or stance. The most important and crucial point I noticed immediately was how much shadow was present on her face unless it was done intentionally. Perhaps have your subject positioned in a different angle/pose to capture their face.
Or in this instance, reposition the speedlight to a better position so to make the subjects face more visible.
July 31, 2013 at 3:04 am #99973
@digitalis – I am very pleased with the pocket wizards. The addition of the AC3 is going to help out tremendously. I am going to have to spend some time working with the units to get used to the settings but having control of up to 3 flash units separately, three stops up and three stops down in 1/3 increments is great. I am having to adjust from using hot lights to the speedlights as well.
July 31, 2013 at 8:20 am #100001
“It is much easier with landscapes, travel photos, wildlife and a few others but when it comes to people, I do think that we photographers also have a duty which is to make the other person, the model, look their best whatever their age, physical shape, etc. I am not talking about glamour shots but I am talking about making them come across as someone others would take an interest in. Documentary style photos are of course an exception.”
I can’t agree, fidelito. I think you are off base here and possibly because you don’t find this model meets your subjective standards of beauty. I think photographers have no such duty. Photographers record a small portion of a second of reality . They MAY then process that reality in such a way to alter it to meet subjective standards of beauty but they have no duty to do so. As for having the subject come across as interesting, this subject is very interesting to me on several levels. So using your own qualifications the image is a success.
Aesthetically I find the model photo interesting and thought provoking. Technically I have a little trouble with the shadows around the eyes and wish they could be lightened . I don’t believe that was intentional on the photographer’s part.
July 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm #100063
Thought you might find this article useful as well…http://www.iheartfaces.com/2012/03/photography-posing-mistakes-tutorial/
I still need to remember to put these in practice in my sessions too.
July 31, 2013 at 6:45 pm #100068
Thanks, got it bookmarked!
August 1, 2013 at 12:52 am #100132
I am adding my comments here as it was this thread where it started.
@michael-lloyd, I just finished watching that Grid-episode you mentioned/recommended … very enlightening even if it is just one or perhaps in that case 3 POVs … I don’t get enough chances to shot people or portraits but it is sth to keep in mind regardless who your model is …
Thanks again for that link.
August 1, 2013 at 4:42 am #100169
My mother. I don’t think you insulted her.
May I suggest a quip about her weight or possibly morals?
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