Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The One The Got Away: How Small Things Can Make A Big Difference

Good Morning Everybody,

We arrived safe and sound yesterday afternoon and were settled in by early evening.  The drive into Sedona, AZ is a wonderful preview to just how beautiful this part of the world is.

Sedona Appraoch

We’re here for a few days on non-photography related business and then a few days of R&R before heading home on Sunday morning.

LaDawn and I are trying to claim today as a day off so let’s get right to today’s post.

Sync Cheating Lighting Part 2, Continued…

Hey everybody, thanks for all the comments on yesterday’s post Light Bending, Pixel Pushing, Sync Cheating Lighting! [link].  Many of you mentioned why I don’t use High Speed Sync features built into the Nikon and Canon flash system. 

HighSpeedFlashSync_thumb5Here’s the deal – High Speed Sync works just fine BUT only up to certain distances.  It’s great for short range flash shots up to about 6-7 feet away according to my informal testing. 

That means it really falls short for the much longer distances I prefer to use my flash.  That’s another reason I prefer the Quantum flash.  It’s about 3 times more powerful than my Canon 580 EXII shoe mount flash.

And finally, if you followed yesterday's tutorial, I used my sync cheating technique to literally change how I illuminated the image.  I manipulated how the light lit my subject to very good effect as I tried to demonstrate in the article's accompanying images.

The One The Got Away: How Small Things Can Make A Big Difference

Today I’m taking liberty with one of our recent class members very beautiful images to help make my point.  Let’s take a look at the image to the right.  It’s a beautiful portrait, isn’t it?


I love several things about this image:

1.  I love how the maker positioned the subject within the partial arch you see in the background.

2. I love the easy pose and soft expression on the model.

3. I love the soft loop lighting falling on our model.  It’s doing a great job giving dimension to this portrait

The bottom line is that this is a very nice portrait.

OK, now time for just a little, I promise, just a little nit-picking. This image, although very beautiful, could have flattered our subject just a bit more.  When posing my subjects, I always find myself working with the classical views of the face.  That is - I try to photography my subjects the same way the great portrait painters of years past painted their subjects.

Bear with me here – I told you this was going to be a nit-picking discussion. I wish the subject was turned JUST SLIGHTLY back towards camera.  Two things that bother me slightly about this image are:

1. Notice that the far eye isn’t framed by the far part of the face and seems to hang out into space.  With the subject’s head turned a bit back to camera, the eye would have been framed up and we would have a more flattering portrait of our lovely young lady.

2. More importantly, look at how close the tip of the subject’s nose is to her cheek.  The nose is so close that what we see is what I like to call the “Pinocchio effect”. The net effect for the viewer and to the detriment of our model is that the nose appears larger that it really is.

TOTGA2 -2Now let’s look at another photograph of this same young lady.  See how she has been turned ever so slightly back towards camera.  Notice too what a difference it makes to her portrait.

Here facial features are better represented which makes her look great.  Notice that in the above image those facial features looked a bit cramped.  Notice too that with the far eye contained by the far side of the face and with the nose placed further away for that far cheek, we have a very flattering view of our model.  It was only a tiny change, but it did make a big difference in our finished portrait.

Everyone wants to look good in front of the camera and as portrait photographers, it is our job to do just that. I really try to keep things very simple in my approach to photographing people.  I mostly follow the rules of what the great artists of years past followed when they painted the kings and kings and dukes and duchesses of the day.

I want my clients to look like royalty too in front of my lens. Why? Because they are! And, that perspective alone can change how you create your next portrait.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I promised LaDawn a day off before our two very busy days coming up tomorrow and Friday.  I’m making no promises when I’ll get the posts up either, but hang in there, I’m sure something will pop.

Have a great rest of the day – hope to see you tomorrow.


1 comment:

  1. Excellent point David. While reviewing some of my past photos last year I discovered the same thing and have been trying to make sure we do exactly what you are saying in this article.

    A big fan of yours