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Oudoor Female Portrait

By admphotography    
Did not use a flash, picture was taken outdoors late afternoon when the sun dropped down cant seem to nail the focusing any advice welcome

Tags: Woman City Uk Fashion Female Candid England Outdoor People Girl Leicestershire Leicester Headshots Portraits and people Individuals

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dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1737 England
5 May 2018 10:24PM
The crucial question is how are you focussing?

Part of the trick is to use a sound system, and part is applying it meticulously, and not allowing focus to drift after you've got it.

Single focus spot on the nearer eye (either eye, in this case). And shoot at once when you have focus. Both you and your subject will be staying upright by swaying slightly - and that's enough to spoil things at a wide aperture.

So please tell us your method, and we'll see if we can suggest specific changes.
hi dudler I had my settings on one shot, 1pt af focus on the right eye with spot metering if that helps my camera is set up for back button focusing I just think they could be better with the lens I've used here canon 24-105mm F/4 L USM
banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4176 Canada
5 May 2018 11:14PM
Looks like youve focused properly, using a good technique.

Shooting immediately is a good tip from dudler, - dont get the focus beep, then hold and shot, so it all in one motion. I think its fine here though.

Personally I stay away from spot metering, but it hasnt worked too bad here; its a little underexposed, perhaps 1/3.

What isnt working well is Auto White Balance, - if you shoot JPEG try set it to daylight when shooting in daylight. A tweak to white balance made a huge difference to this in the mod. I find it odd that we try NOT to use Auto anything, then have no issue at all with the single most important aspect of a colour image, - AUTO white balance!

Anyway, Ive sharpened her eyes a little, using selective sharpening, cropped, increased shadow detail to light detail in her brown eyes.

You can see in the mod that you focus was quite good.

Also, that lens is a terrific lens, - but with awful barrel distortion at 25mm. Make sure you have lens correction enabled on the camera.

In the camera settings you can enable "show focus point", so when you shoot RAW, the unprocessed RAW image will show the focus square it used and where its positioned.

If you feel up to it, try setting AFMA, Auto Focus Micro Adjustment with this lens; what the technique does, when done properly, is identify if the AF system with this lens is focusing precisely where you want it ( the correct distance from the lens) or if its focusing a little too far away, or too close to the lens.

Google the technique and you will get a load of youtube videos. Ive done it on one lens ever, which was quite a bit out on my 80D, but worked perfectly on my 6D


dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1737 England
6 May 2018 5:50AM
Thank you for the extra detail - your focus system is absolutely sound (it's surprising how many people ask exactly the same questio nas you did, but still have the camera working in auto-everything mode).

And, as Willie says, this is actually nicely sharp on the eye, so maybe what you can take away from this post is that you don't need to worry!

You shot in quite low light (which pushes technique in every way), and the lighting is soft, which is actually ideal for portraits, because yo uavoid harsh shadows and screwed-up eyes, blinded by sunlight. The lower contrast, though, can rob pictures of a bit of zappiness, and this can make sharpness seem a bit less.

Looking at the shot again, I have one other thought, at a bit of a tangent. The vertical lines i nthe background are distracting - I didn't comment earlier because your query was a purely technical one. However, coming back to it, I wonder if they are actually affecting how you see the shot. Normally, you'd go to the eyes of a portrait, and hte sharpest part of any image - in this case, the eyes. Everything suggests that the viewer will look at the model's eyes.

But those verticals - out of focus, but still strongly visible. Even in Willie's final mod, they are dragging my eye to the background. So I've done a bit of cloning - and I wonder if that improves matters. Perceptual psychology matters in photography...

Compositionally, my mod is a very definite improvement - but does it also look sharper?

A couple of general thoughts, as well - a flat-on, full frontal portrait is not usually the most flattering angle. And while throwing the background out of focus is always a good ploy for a portrait, finding a dark and plain background is often a worthwhile second measure...
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.4k 2290 United Kingdom
6 May 2018 8:15AM
So far as focusing is concerned you've nailed it. But I sense that your model was well aware that you were concentrating like fury on getting the technique right, telling her to hold her pose absolutely stock still, and that tension is apparent in her face.

For this to work as a portrait there needs to be a greater sense of communication, and she seems to be just avoiding our gaze. That is far more disconcerting for the viewer than posing looking out of the frame.

As the next stage, engage with your model, get a conversation going between her and the lens. If you pose her seated, and move down to her eye-level, she may relax more easily. That way the viewer will feel involved and interested.

That does need a fast shutter speed - as was used here.
dark_lord Plus
16 2.7k 709 England
6 May 2018 8:57PM
Focus looks fine, and your technique is ound. John makes a good point though, if there's movement of yourself or the subject after achieving focus then it's likely to go pear shaped.

The first thing that struck me however, was the background. out of focus it may be but it's a big distraction fom the subject.
I know it's yet another thing to consider but it has enormous capability to make or break a shot, whatever the subject matter.


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