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Critic's CornerSelfie studio portrait

Portraits and head shots. Learn the finer points of lighting and posing.
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Duck
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Selfie studio portrait

Postby Duck » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:32 pm

Every so often I play around with portraiture. While not my 'thing' I feel I do need to understand the process in order to speak intelligently in the subject. :-D

Here is a selfie from one of my self-indulgent sessions. Obviously it is much more difficult to be both photographer AND subject, but criticism is still useful but keep in mind the limitations I was working under. Thanks.
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Ernst-Ulrich Schafer
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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby Ernst-Ulrich Schafer » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:32 pm

Hey Duck, I like the lighting you achieve here with your portrait. Bringing the back shoulder around would have given more base. While I like your shirt alot it does distract. ;-) Look me in the eye.

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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby Psjunkie » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:13 pm

Blocking out the white spots put the focus back on you Duck but I feel they say something about you so maybe should stay…It is a pleasing portrait to me and looks technically well done….I might try not looking quite so far to the right and let some of the right side whites of the eye appear….

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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby davechinn » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:38 pm

Duck wrote:Every so often I play around with portraiture. While not my 'thing' I feel I do need to understand the process in order to speak intelligently in the subject. :-D

Here is a selfie from one of my self-indulgent sessions. Obviously it is much more difficult to be both photographer AND subject, but criticism is still useful but keep in mind the limitations I was working under. Thanks.
Unitas_Photography-6443.jpg


Duck, I totally understand, it is difficult to be both photographer and subject. Considering those conditions, I think you did very well. Although, I do agree with Ernst and Psjunkie. The eyes were the first thing I noticed. They are fine, but bringing them back just slightly to camera right would be much more appealing. As is though, it's a fine portrait you should be proud of.
Dave

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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby PietFrancke » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:58 pm

Duck, for me... the red is over-powering. so the current image is about red instead of about you. And what the other guys said. Portraiture is not my area, so take my add-in with a big grain of salt. Do B/W on this. About the eyes, looking away makes you look dreamy -- which doesn't fit. Tough and cranky would make me grin ear to ear!

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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby Charles Haacker » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:10 pm

It's not at all bad! It's sharp, perfectly exposed, impactful and interesting. I shot portraits for 16 full years full time in my studio. My main issue is with the shirt. It is "busy" and distracting. I don't mind the color so much, which is rich and deep, but the pattern is distracting, most especially the white escutcheons on the sleeve. They would easily be knocked down to black, which I would do, but my preference would be a solid color with no decoration to take attention from your face. You've got a solid Rembrandt lighting going, excellent, but my other slight concern is that I think you are looking too far off to your right. From the placement of the catchlight it almost looks as if you are looking past your keylight. Ernst said, "look me in the eye." I don't necessarily think you have to be looking straight into the lens, but I was taught that that's too much white of eye.
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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby Duck » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:03 pm

On lighting
Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:Hey Duck, I like the lighting you achieve here with your portrait. Bringing the back shoulder around would have given more base. [...]

Charles Haacker wrote:It's not at all bad! It's sharp, perfectly exposed, impactful and interesting. I shot portraits for 16 full years full time in my studio. [...] You've got a solid Rembrandt lighting going, excellent, [...]

For the lighting setup, I actually used a mannequin to set up the lights and get the exposure I wanted. I then placed a marker on the floor where the mannequin stood so I would know where to place myself. I stayed with a simple setup I felt would give me some flexibility since I wouldn't be able to see what was happening until after the shutter was clicked. It took a few back and forths to get something halfway decent and in focus. I wasn't shooting tethered as I normally would in studio so looking at the LCD display didn't help. Because I was also concentrating on a bunch of things at a time I know I lost out on some of the subtleties of lighting, pose, et al.

The shirt
Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:[...] While I like your shirt alot it does distract. [...]

Psjunkie wrote:Blocking out the white spots put the focus back on you Duck but I feel they say something about you so maybe should stay… It is a pleasing portrait to me and looks technically well done…. [...]

PietFrancke wrote:Duck, for me... the red is over-powering. so the current image is about red instead of about you. And what the other guys said. Portraiture is not my area, so take my add-in with a big grain of salt. Do B/W on this. [...]

Charles Haacker wrote:[...] My main issue is with the shirt. It is "busy" and distracting. I don't mind the color so much, which is rich and deep, but the pattern is distracting, most especially the white escutcheons on the sleeve. They would easily be knocked down to black, which I would do, but my preference would be a solid color with no decoration to take attention from your face. [...]

I know the shirt goes against standard portraiture practices and I actually do tell my friends to wear solids for those few rare occasions I do a headshot for them. In my case this is my typical 'work uniform' and, along with my cowboy hat, has become an iconic look for me. Since this was a spur of the moment, unplanned shoot I didn't even consider changing. However, this does bring up a point about clothing being iconic to a person... If I were to have changed to a plain shirt the resulting portrait would not have been "me", if that makes sense. So how does one handle that? I do have similar shirts that may have been better, more subdued (in a way), but equally as expressive. In particular I think certain work uniforms fall into a similar category when doing environmental portraits. Some can be very distracting. How do you guys handle those circumstances?

About the eyes
Ernst-Ulrich Schafer wrote:[...] Look me in the eye.

Psjunkie wrote:[...] I might try not looking quite so far to the right and let some of the right side whites of the eye appear….

davechinn wrote:Duck, I totally understand, it is difficult to be both photographer and subject. Considering those conditions, I think you did very well. Although, I do agree with Ernst and Psjunkie. The eyes were the first thing I noticed. They are fine, but bringing them back just slightly to camera right would be much more appealing. As is though, it's a fine portrait you should be proud of.
Dave

PietFrancke wrote:[...] About the eyes, looking away makes you look dreamy -- which doesn't fit. [...]

Charles Haacker wrote:[...] my other slight concern is that I think you are looking too far off to your right. From the placement of the catchlight it almost looks as if you are looking past your keylight. Ernst said, "look me in the eye." I don't necessarily think you have to be looking straight into the lens, but I was taught that that's too much white of eye.

Yeah, not having that immediate feedback on what looks good and what doesn't can be a handicap. I suppose in retrospect I should have defaulted to the tried and true "look at me" eyes to the camera. All I can say is whimsy probably took over here. I'll definitely keep this in mind as I'll likely do something like this again at some point.

PietFrancke wrote:[...] Tough and cranky would make me grin ear to ear!

That would be funny but I don't think I can pull off tough or cranky. Well, maybe cranky... at the end of the day, perhaps, but not tough. I'll keep this in mind for the next time though. :D

Thank you all for the invaluable feedback. As I've stated all too often I am not a people shooter but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be learning. I'll try to keep all this in mind for the next time.

Thanks
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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby St3v3M » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:33 am

Duck wrote:Every so often I play around with portraiture. While not my 'thing' I feel I do need to understand the process in order to speak intelligently in the subject. :-D
...

It's a bit intimidating to come to this late, especially when I don't do portraits and those who answered are masters at it, but it feels important to offer help when asked so with ignorance to the subject my first reaction is to take your finger out of your ear. I know it's on your face, but it's the first thing I see and it distracts.

I hope this helps! S-
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Duck
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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby Duck » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:36 pm

St3v3M wrote:It's a bit intimidating to come to this late, especially when I don't do portraits and those who answered are masters at it, but it feels important to offer help when asked so with ignorance to the subject my first reaction is to take your finger out of your ear. I know it's on your face, but it's the first thing I see and it distracts.

I hope this helps! S-

What's that, Steve? I can't hear you... Oh, wait... there's something in my ear. Oh, look, it's a finger... How'd that get in there?

Good point. I'll have to try this again. :thumbup:
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Re: Selfie studio portrait

Postby St3v3M » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:28 am

Duck wrote:What's that, Steve? I can't hear you... Oh, wait... there's something in my ear. Oh, look, it's a finger... How'd that get in there?

Good point. I'll have to try this again. :thumbup:

When I started reading this I thought Oh no I offended him, but then I was laughing out loud. You crack me up! S-
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