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New Impromptu Portraits & Stories

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Here are three new additions to the Portrait section of my portfolio on, all of which had no formal appointment or special circumstance.  Just people.  Really, to make a good portrait, that’s all you need: A face.  Here are the stories from behind the lens for each shot.

#1: Heidi

Heidi is one of the cool women I had the privilege of hanging out with for a night out in New York City.  This picture was when we first met up, in Grand Central Station.  I like to shoot Manual after assessing the light and conditions and taking a few preliminary test shots before going into a session.  But when you’re out on the town with some friends, and it’s not a JOB, don’t treat it like one!  Most walk-arounds, from location to location, I’ll be in Program Auto Mode and just select my desired ISO, and exposure compensation for the shot I want.  My other favorite is Aperture Priority, where I get to choose the Aperture size to control creative depth of field (like this shallow 50mm prime lens portrait) and the camera just calculates the correct shutter speed for the given light.

Sometimes I’ll go even FURTHER and venture into the consumer modes that no pro-photographer likes to admit to using.  Like No-Flash AUTO on the Nikon D90.  (“No Flash” Symbol on the dial.) Which is the same as the dreaded full green Auto mode, just with no flash.  Auto ISO, Shutter, Aperture, everything.  If you’ve got good glass, this works surprisingly well for most situations when you see A)Something is about to happen, and you need to be ready to capture it (without flash) in the next few seconds, and B) You’re lazy like me and just wanna see what the camera thinks of the current situation before kicking it back into Program or Manual mode.  AND you can still capture RAW images in this mode, which gives you some freedom to tweak the image afterward in post process.

When you call to your (cute) friend and she turns around, you need to be ready for the shot.  Often, the first, genuine turn, flip of the hair and smile will look better than when you ask her to “Do it again, I wasn’t ready.”

#2:  Zack and Yvette

Zack and Yvette are close newlywed friends of mine that are incidentally extremely beautiful as well.  I’ll be trying to get together with them for a more formal shoot in the future!  But today, they came to visit for a graduation, and afterward were outside relaxing in the early afternoon shade.   Shade is wonderful.  Shade is soft, diffused light.  If you’re out in the bright sun, look for a building or tree to get under.

Two considerations:  1) A tree may have light shining through the leaves, making dappled light.  Not flattering.  Move your subject around so that they’re completely shaded (at least the face)  2) A building will reflect light the same color of the building.  In this case, the nearby building was a nice skin-bronzing beige color.

Quick portrait tip for two people?  Tell them to touch their heads together!  In a picture, distances between two people can be exaggerated.  So get them real close to each other!
Portrait tip #2:  Instead of saying smile, I belted out the photographer trademark, “Whoo, that’s BEE-YOO-TEE-FUL!” Genuine smiles followed.  Click!  You can vary your dramatic compliment for the same effect.  Just be sincere!

#3:  Baby Gage

A former co-worker of mine came up to visit us with his wife and baby boy.  What an awesome, cute-as-a-button kid!  He was a very happy child, and I never saw him cry during the whole trip!  Being all of 13 months old and 2 feet tall, and still learning how to walk, Gage was suprisingly FAST!  Great face, but hard to keep up with!  This is another situation where you can try out one of the “Forbidden” auto modes on our camera:  Sports Mode.  Usually represented by a RUNNING LITTLE MAN. The realm of Continuous 3D Autofocus, High ISOs, Large Apertures, and Fast Shutter speeds.  Choose this mode when the toddler is charging the camera and you have no time to think.  If they’re going to stick around a bit more, check the settings that the camera used for the picture and see if you can enter those settings into Manual mode for a more consistent batch of pictures.

Check these new portraits out in a larger size on!

See you soon!

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Portraiture: “A face and a place” =)

    There’s nothing wrong with using your technology. Shooting manual is great in instances when you can’t the camera to do what you want automatically, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work together with the camera in certain automated exposure modes. What matters, of course, is the final image!

    October 6, 2010
  2. Jordan #

    Hey man nice shots!
    Your first link goes to btw 😉

    October 6, 2010
    • Oops! Changed that just now. Thanks very much!

      October 7, 2010
  3. Raycoy #

    I learn a lot from this Blog Josh, thanks you very much for sharing.

    October 7, 2010

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