Project 6: best of a sequence

The brief for this project is to concentrate fully on the person’s expression, assessing it from frame to frame in order to select the best from the sequence.

During this session I talked to the subject a lot, giving guidance on where to look, telling anecdotes in order to produce expressions and keeping the session moving at a snappy pace.  My camera was tethered to a laptop and so we had a good idea as we progressed of whether the images were meeting our requirements.

In the ‘contact sheet’ below, I have rated the images in accordance with the project brief.  It’s interesting to note that I have rated only 24% of the images as good and 76% as not good or acceptable.  I suspect that is a reasonably high hit rate for me but nothing like as good as I imagine professional photographers need to achieve.

As required by the brief I did review the images immediately after shooting – but as I had used tethered capture I had a reasonably good idea of which were likely to be the  best.  I was interested in trying to capture some images that were not the conventional ‘smiling’ portrait but instead captured something different about the subject.  Hence, some of the images are ‘stern’ (6C, 6D), ‘pensive’ (6L), or experimental (6Q and 6U).  On rating them in Lightroom, I was slightly disappointed with how certain of them had come out compared to how I had imagined them.  For example, Image 6J, in which I asked the subject to look down, is still an interesting idea but I’m not sure it works with no part of the eyes visible.  On a similar note, several of the images that I gave a low rating to suffered from problems with the eyes – my subject thinks that this is because my speedlites emit a pre-flash which causes her to blink.  Some other technical points that I noted during my review of the sequence were that sometimes, I seemed to be shooting faster than the flash recycling time (of at least one of the battery powered flashes). This had the result that some of the images were 2 1/3 stops underexposed. I also noted that despite using a shoot through umbrella, there is often a hot spot and some skin surface flare on the left-hand side of my portraits – something to work on together with the model, (who can take steps to make her skin less shiny). My lighting set up was as here.

Key + Fill lighting

My final observation is that, perhaps by virtue of normally being a photographer of things rather than people, I may not be processing my portraits very sympathetically in post-production.  Specifically, I have more to learn on skin tones, colour temperature and sympathetic sharpening – I will make sure I improve as I progress through this course.

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