Sunday, 15 January 2012

Project 2 - Thinking About Location

For this project I had to scout for a number of locations and find suitable backdrops for a portrait session. On a visit to Rye in Kent I found some locations that I thought would work well with the strong winter sunlight bringing out texture and detail.

I have shown the locations below. In the end I wasn't able to use all of them because the light had gone in some of the darker areas and I don't have an external flashgun. I have still shown them below as I intend to return on subsequent visits and complete the exercise.

Location 1. Steps - I chose this area because the light was filtered and I thought I could get my model to sit on the steps and try some different poses. By the time I came back to this area it was too dark to use. I will return to this spot later.

Location 2. Hedge - This spot provided some background detail and colour that was fairly uniform.

Location 3. Church window - I wanted to throw the backdrop out of focus in this location to see the effect that it would have.

Location 4. Church wall - This location was brightly lit and provided plenty of texture.

Location 5. Blue door -  I will return to this location later.

I still found this project difficult. Trying to remember to use focal lengths suitable for portrait photography, looking for light and shade and poses is still a steep learning curve for me and I quickly become frustrated - not good when you need the model to be relaxed for a shoot! I still feel that I am floundering when it comes to this type of photography but I will keep chugging away at it until I start to become more fluent in the methods. Also, the tools required, such as reflectors, to bounce natural light around are pretty crucial to a portrait photographer. Using that kind of equipment in a public place would make me incredibly self conscious. Perhaps I need to buy an external flashgun for outdoor work.

The results of the shoot have been processed on my Mac and some minimal cropping has been done along with exposure adjustments and some selective lightening of areas of skin to reduce harsh shadow effects.

Image 1. church wall.

Conscious that it was bitterly cold I refrained from asking my model to remove his hat for the first few shots. The lighting is strong against this wall and I had to work on the shadows on the face in Photoshop to tone them down a little. I don't think I've overdone it. I like the texture on the hat and the wall. The tightly zipped jacket also helps to convey a sense of a sunny but cold winter day I think. I tried my best with the poses. I am aware that the torso needs to be angled a bit more to avoid a "stocky" effect. I'm still not comfortable with the poses element of portraiture. I asked the model to look around and captured a few different shots. I am well aware that much more direction is required from me to progress in this area.

Image 2. Church wall 2.

Image 3. Church wall 3.

Image 4. Church window.

I chose my widest aperture available for these shots for a shallow depth of field. The close up works better in this respect but for the project I am supposed to be showing torso shots. I went for a more front on pose and I like these better. I didn't notice the crooked beanie until post processing so I can't see me becoming a fashion photographer anytime soon. I have lightened the face in Photoshop a little and also darkened an area under the chin for a more flattering look. I think image 5 is my favourite from the set although the stone window spars are a tad distracting.

Image 5. Church window 2

Image 6. Church window 3.

I then asked the model to remove his hat and undo the top of his jacket so that he didn't look quite so buttoned up. I started to give a bit more direction in regards to pose and asked him to look up slightly. They are okay maybe a little "staged" perhaps? I think the symmetry created by the jacket collar and zip pockets works well in the composition.

Image 7. Church window 4.

Image 8. Hedge.

I asked the model to stand slightly side on for this shot. Again, I tried a couple of different poses.

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