Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Nice Guys Finish First"

0001 - Nice Guys Finish First-

"Nice Guys Finish First"
© David A. Ziser

I've been giving the girls top billing in my Image of the Day posts these last several days.  Today I'm giving the guys a chance. Here's another image I made during my Napa Valley workshop just a few weeks ago. Again, it was made at the Beringer Winery where the grounds offered wonderful opportunities for so many different kinds of portraits. A few days ago I posted an image entitled the “Beautiful Lines” [link]. It was a portrait of Megan on one of the walkways at Beringer. As I pointed out in that post I love how all the lines led to our beautiful subject.

This image was made in exactly the same location but from the top of that walkway looking back in the opposite direction. Once again the background of the scene supports a portrait of our handsome young man, Sammy, quite well.

The main challenge of this portrait was to make him look his best in his portrait.  He was carrying a few extra pounds around his middle and wearing a suit that was just tugging a bit at its buttons. I decided to position him leaning back slightly on the railing you see in the foreground. This, in effect, slimmed him down quite nicely and with this congenial expression, I think we pulled off a pretty nice portrait of him.

I brought the light in from camera right, my Quantum through my Zumbrella, at 1/4 power. It was simply a matter of balancing the flash illumination with the ambient light to obtain my final result.

Compositionally I decided to put him right in the middle of the image area flanked by the fall foliage on the left and the Pavilion on the right. Look closely and you'll see those railings in the background  leading the viewer’s eye right to our main subject. Even though I was shooting at F5 .6 I was still able to throw the background significantly out of focus so that the viewer’s attention remains on our main subject.

DAZNOTE: I occasionally get questions about why I am using my 18 – 200 MM lens for so many of my images. The answer to that question is this; When I'm in a training session as I am in all my workshops and master classes, the 18 – 200 MM lens is a perfect optic for a training situation. It allows me a full range of focal lengths from wide-angle to telephoto which allows me to work, and teach, very quickly and efficiently.

Had I been making this portrait under normal conditions I, of course, would have been using my 70 – 200 MM lens  at a wider aperture.  So, even though you see this lens referenced a lot in my daily posts at DigitalProTalk, know that a lot of the time these images are made under teaching conditions  where I will be using my favorite teaching lens the 18 – 200 MM lens.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 90mm, F5.6 @ 1/250 second, ISO 800.  Enjoy!  -David


  1. Thanks David. It is extremely important to pose people and to make them look their best who have center line bulge or other bulges.

    We own a 5d Mk II and a 50D Canon. The 50D-15 MP got a very bad rep because it was packaged with the 18-200 mm. This lens down graded the resolution by 20% during testing. Now pop on our 70-200 mm F4 or any other good lens and the resolution goes up to 2600 (from around 2100). This is quite near the 5D Mk II. IMHO 15 MP is plenty for a APS-C sized sensor. The 50D also accepts a PC-syc input for our transmitters unlike the 60D. No HD video unless we get some second party firmware to do it.

    I just reviewed a CD by a great trainer talking about his 8 MP Nikon (initials DZ) and how it was now close to film resolution. So, I don't want to add any more noise to our images by adding more pixels to a small sensor. Yes, we have all of the noise reducing software, or most of them.

    On the other hand, your 70-300mm is very good up to 200mm and then it goes soft as you already know. I have a 0.4 multiplier for the 70-200mm F4 and I am going to take some shots to see how soft it goes.

    Thanks for the tips. You are on my daily reading and training list.

  2. Hey Mr. Ziser.

    I have a lighting decision question for you.

    This is looking a little like broad lighting vs short lighting, correct? If so, I wonder why you didn't light him in short lighting loop pattern to slim him down a bit more. Thanks!


  3. Hey guys, thanks for the remarks. Elie, our subject in this image is short-lit. He just happens to be in a full-face view. If I had lit him from the other side I would've illuminated his entire body which really would've added weight to him in this case. Our model was full figured but I think we got a nice photograph of him here. David

  4. Thanks David.

    I will think about that and attempt to research and apply.

    All you do is much appreciated.