Entries in model (23)
I always use a single focus point when photographing still subjects. Most of the time I keep that single focus point in the center, and the recompose how I want the final image to look. Of course for shooting still subjects I use AF-S (one shot) focus mode. So when making portraits using the settings described previously, I set the focus on the subject's eyes, then recompose because the most important thing with a portrait is getting the eyes in focus.
Very rarely do I center subjects, and in a portrait the eyes of the subject are not very likely to end up perfectly centered as well. In the above shot I first put my center focus point on the subject's eyes, then recomposed to put her eyes in the upper third of the frame (also her right eye ends exactly at the right horizontal third).
So when making portraits, set the focus on the eyes, then recompose how you like.
This shoot was with returning client Mark, but was by far the biggest contrast between photography services with the same client. In November 2012 he reserved a car photography shoot for his Mustang Cobra and as you can see this time it was a model portfolio shoot, involving himself and his girlfriend too no less! He saw some of my previous modeling shots at a brick wall and vintage door location and asked if we could use that same downtown St. Petersburg Florida spot.
For the shoot Mark wanted some individual shots of himself, individuals of his girlfriend, and then also shots of them together as a couple switching between the brick wall background and the vintage door. They also did a wardrobe change. For the above shot I used the pinhole filter in Silver Efex Pro to create that shadowy black & white look.
Not being professional models I suggested various ideas in addition to the ones they wanted to try too. I always like to try and get a dynamic look shot, so I suggested a hair toss. It took several tries and different starting points and remembering to smile even though she was flicking her head back, but in the end I got the result I envisioned for the shot.
For their first model portfolio shoot they both did great and I am of course always happy to work with a previous client again. I look forward to whatever type of shoot Marks wants to do next be it model, car or something else!
Julie has started her second 4-pack of 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons with me and is really ready to step up her photography skills! She has invested in complete setup for off camera flash, or strobist, photography. This actually does not require a large financial investment (assuming you already have a speedlight). To join the strobist portrait world it just takes a light stand, head for the light stand, radio triggers and maybe a brolly or other light modifier. All that can be had for about $125. Just add your DSLR & speedlight, and of course my photography lessons, and you can start making your own amazing portraits (see above).
For this lesson in downtown St. Petersburg Julie brought along her friend Rebecca, who is also taking my photography lessons as well! She was a very patient model as we setup up several different shots in North Straub Park and along the waterfront. You can see the very simple one speedlight setup we used with just a diffuser cap on (as it was too windy at this spot for the brolly) in the image above and a resulting dramatic portrait. I look forward to showing Julie how to become an even better strobist photographer in our next lesson!
For my model portfolio shoot with Rita in downtown St. Petersburg, I finally had a chance to use a very small part of a building I had been wanting to feature in a photo shoot for a long time. Many times I walked past this spot while teaching 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons and kept making mental notes to use the features of the spot (long brick wall, medieval looking door) in a shoot someday. Finally, that day was yesterday evening with model, Rita (her official website).
Though we only shot in a space of about 10 feet, we were able to produce a variety of different shots by featuring the brick wall or the metallic door as the background as well as close-ups and wide shots. I also switched between using a 2-strobe setup like the one above, and a single strobe setup like the lead image.
Rita's style of changing poses after each time I pushed the shutter made for a flow that I had not experienced with a model before. I really liked it as it kept the shoot moving giving the process a dynamic feel.
I liked being able to make soft looking images, like the one above, along with gritty images in the same shoot as no matter how long or short of a shoot, I do like to create a variety of looks for the model. For the above shot, I thought the straight perpendicular composition looked too rigid, so I tilted my camera to remove the boundary feeling of the 90-degree angle framing.
I was again impressed with the lighting job my 43" brolly did. I will feature it in a proper gear review soon. As you can see it does not take a lot of lighting equipment to make an effective portrait. The above shot features a single speedlight off camera in the brolly. All I did was place it about 45 degrees to the left of the model on a light stand using inexpensive Yongnuo radio triggers (to be reviewed soon also). Of course it also helps to have a beautiful and talented model like Rita to work with!
I cannot say I explicitily intended for my model portfolio shoot with Alexandra to turn into a film noir style, but through editing of the images it certainly turned out that way. We were shooting in the late evening from about 7:45pm to 8:25pm mostly around the Arcade in downtown St. Petersburg. The Arcade is a great location offering a variety of shot opportunities, especially at that late time of day with all its shadow opportunities. The above shot was actually the very last shot of the shoot. The background features the neon sign of a cafe across the street with the contrast selectively turned up so that only what is illuminated by my speedlights and the neon remain visible.
I chose the Arcade as a shooting location because of the great, very tall, ornate, iron gates. I knew they would make for a fantastic background and/or prop. For the above shot I placed a speedlight outside the gates to frame left in the alley to help cast long shadows in the foreground. I composed so to accentuate them. Alexandra came up with a great pose taking my one small suggestion to create space between each arm and her body, something I always make sure is set otherwise the model will appear to have a lumpy body or strange attached arm. Alexandra in fact did a great job overall allowing me to focus on creating mood and atmosphere with my lighting and composition.
This shot features the same gates and lighting setup. Without the speedlight outside the gates providing backlight, the gate on frame right would appear dull and lack the reflective light on it. Additionally, the same speedlight provides rim light around the model, especially her hair, right arm and right side. A photographer can do a lot with just two speedlights positioned in key spots. I could carry all my strobist and photography gear that I used for this shoot myself, following the "lighten up and shoot" philosophy.
This shot is different than all the others in that it features only one speedlight positioned to create Rembrandt lighting (nose & cheek shadows touch leaving a little light under the eye) on the model. I wanted to include one soft feeling image in the shoot as most of the others were really strong from a posing and overall feel perspective.