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Aimee and Friends

By brian1208
My first go at a proper portrait shoot at home - so I would appreciate some constructive criticism.

Shot using my Ezybox hotshoe kit + 580EX2 as the main light left of the camera and a 430 ex2 firing through a small beauty dish with honeycombe to right and about head height.

(Both flashes in Manual with the main light as master and beauty dish as slave)

The idea was to try for some informal shots that captured Aimee's mischevious character. (Her parents selected this one as their favourite)

My first learning point was just how much space you need to do this.

The only available space I had to do this was in my lounge.

My backdrop was a 7"x5" collapsable background with a muslin overlay.

When I tried to get a full length shot of Aimee's mum in frame I kept seeing the edges of the backdrop.

That + lack of width and height for placing the flashes made me realise I'd better stick to children and adult head and shoulder shots!

Tags: Portraits and people Flash and lighting

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


banehawi Plus
13 1.7k 3806 Canada
3 Jan 2010 3:59PM
Hi Brian, Happy New year, - and welcome to the art of portraits!

As you said already, - you need room for full size, - but you can start with what youve done here and use Photoshop to make it look like you had a large space by adding canvas size.

First off, - try to calibrate white balance before you take a shot of the subject. Set everything up, place a gray card (cheap from Jessops, etc) and take a shot in raw. The continue with the shot. In post processing, open the gray card shot first, the using the white balance tool, click on the gray card. This will provide you with a white balance reading you should apply to all subsequent shots taken in the same light. Its a little off here as the girls skin tones are not looking right to me.

You didnt mention flash power, and which of the two you used as a main, its normally the one off to one side, 45 degrees and eye height thats the main, and the one closest to the camera is a fill light at a lower power, - perhaps - 1/2 or so, - you need to experiment. This will give some shadow and depth which is missing here.

Lastly, though its cute to have her looking at the toy, its better if you had her hold the bunny close and look at the lens for eye contact, - this is usually what makes the shot work, - eyes are everything in a portrait.

Take a look at the mod which fakes more room as mentioned, and it also includes some colour balance corrections for the skin tones, and a little sharpening.

Hope you find all this helpful,



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brian1208 Plus
14 11.3k 12 United Kingdom
3 Jan 2010 4:21PM
Thanks for the input Willie, looking at it again you are, of course, right.

I did do what you suggested and shot the background first to use as the white balance check. The trouble was that I then tried to "Improve" it by using a second go at making the background "Really White" rather than relying on my original check shot colour balance. The result is a bit of a ****-up.

I've uploaded another from the series in which there is better eye contact and I have left the white balance in its original "correct" value. I guess I just have to accept that the muslin isn't a true white Wink

Lots to learn still but it could be fun

Thanks for your mod too Ian
banehawi Plus
13 1.7k 3806 Canada
3 Jan 2010 4:24PM
Yep, - V2 is much better skin tone Brian. The gray card works well most of the time.

brian1208 Plus
14 11.3k 12 United Kingdom
3 Jan 2010 4:27PM
I shouldn't mess with my pics - I'll learn - one day!

Thanks for the confirmation Willie

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