Back Modifications (3)
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Laura 3

By David_Lamb  
This is a headshot for my girlfriend who has just had her hair cut short and therefore required an interim headshot until she has the money to get a professional one done. I have a few more to photos to upload and I am looking for constructive feedback so I can improve the image as much as possible.

Thanks for the help,


Tags: Black and white Portraits and people

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


Daisymaye Plus
9 23 16 Canada
5 Mar 2011 1:38AM
It feels a little like the head is floating over the body. Maybe because of the dof, the body being soft and the chin so sharp and no shadow. Very pretty girl...........Sandy

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Coast 10 1.6k 292 United Kingdom
5 Mar 2011 2:49PM
Sandy makes a good point here as the dof is so shallow and the close up makes the head appear to float. More critically here for me is the sharpness of the image. The eyes are not as sharp as they should be.

Lighting is fine and the catchlight in the eyes gives life to the portrait. In processing it may need a little play on the levels to give it crisper tones as it currently looks a little flat.

Great to have an attractive, willing and available model at hand so you can keep practising at will. Grin
banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3877 Canada
5 Mar 2011 3:05PM
Hi David, though not a bad shot, theres a few areas where it could be better.

The use of f/1.4 was not a good idea, as it is so shallow it has left her nose out of focus entirely, and parts of her eyebrows. Using at least f/5.6 would be the way to go. You would then have the option to soften evenly post processing

You appears to have been very close to her when the shot was taken, and the result is distortion of the parts of her face closest to the lens, and you may have made he nose appear larger than it actually is (apologies if I am not right here)

The light is flat, - which may be what you wanted, but portrait can often look better with a little more light from one side than the other.

The composition places her eyes too low in the frame, - eyes need to be on a third, so staying back a little further would have given room for cropping to place the eyes while retaining all her head.

Ive loaded 2 mods, second one is a little softer than the first. Ive re cropped; sharpened where I could; applied differential lighting and corrected distortion.

Hope you find this helpful,


CathR 11 151 564 United Kingdom
5 Mar 2011 3:06PM
Lovely hair style, it really suits her.

You can do portraits at f1.4. David Noton does a lot using that aperture. But you have to get your focussing bang on so the eyes are sharp. Even so the rest of the face will be going out of focus so it is not to everyone's taste. Personally I would experiment with stopping down just a little. The softness is nice though but just a little more dof needed.

best wishes

5 Mar 2011 4:20PM
Thanks a lot for the comments, they are much appreciated. I'll try using a larger dof and I am thinking about taking the shot outdoors as I couldn't get a decent lighting setup indoors. I'm still not too sure about lighting setup for portraits i.e. whether its best to light from the front or side....and I'm conscious about having shadows on her face. If any of you have any tips please let me know.

Thanks again,

banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3877 Canada
5 Mar 2011 6:19PM
You dont want a shadow on her face, - just one side a little brighter than the other. You can get this for example if she sites close to a bright (NOT sunny) window, and looks the the camera with her head slightly turned to the window. Whats usually a good lighting sign is that there will be a slight 45 degree shadow of her nose on the opposite side.

Also remember that its a smaller aperture you want, not a larger. Apertures are expressed in fractions, - which is what the F means, so f/1.4 is much larger than f/5.6.

Theres very good information you can read at

Its been mentioned above that you can take portraits at f/1.4, which is absolutely correct, BUT the focal length plays a big role as does the distance from the lens in how successful the resulting image is. Read dofmaster, - its all there.

Also, - as an afterthought I loaded a third image, - try tilting her head, - it gives a totally different expression.


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