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By TheRiverRat
I was asked to take some photo's of a friends daughter for prom which took me out of my comfort zone, I had said they might not be any good but they insisted so I gave it a try, they were very happy with them but I was not. So now I have a little time on my hands so thought I would put one up here so you can see the outcome, also with the little free time I have I thought I would try and improve in this area any advice would be great. Thanks in advance.

Tags: Close-up and macro Portraits and people

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gazlowe 9 8 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2012 10:17AM
no critique needed its a lovely portrait
Focus_Man 11 481 631 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2012 10:57AM
Not being a portrait expert my critique is limited but a few points herewith.

1. You have left 'red eye' on display and so I would remove it using the red-eye reducer which all packages of photo software contains. This is probably because your flash unit in use was the camera's built in unit and your subject is looking straight at you. This red-eye is the reflection of the flash on the retina of the eye. It is always prefereable to either use bounce flash or an off-camera flash unit.

2. For me the subject within your frame should have been further left. Presently, the nose and eyes are too far right rendering a lot of the LHS redundant. I would also have liked to have seen some space removed from the top and added to the botton to make the eyes closer to 1/3 the way down rather than half as at present.

You nay have wished to include the earring on her right ear but then chopping off the ear itself does not help. Personally, I am not over keen on the earring resting on her shoulder either, maybe it would be better all trailing on her back rather than splita s at present. That ear could be included by the use of a looser crop also adding some space to the RHS to give the balance I mantioned earlier.

You have used f4 here but there is no background to throw out of focus so I would personally have used f5.6 to give a little more DoF and a little better lens efficiency to be sure of getting sharp focus as well.

pluckyfilly 14 351 33 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2012 2:27PM
I dont see the red eye aforementioned but I do agree with most of the comments above, afraid this is not my forte either but the skin tones are good and generally I like the picture
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4235 Canada
23 Sep 2012 4:21PM
Hi Phil,

I assume this is one of the prom shots?

AS Frank points out, one of the main objectives in general with portraits is eye placement, and in this, you have them in the centre vertically, whereas you would be better with them 1/3 the way down. I know you were limited by the lens, and also by trying to include all of the tiara.

The image here is quite soft, her eyes are soft for example, and I think this is simply due to the fact that you didnt sharpen after you re sized the image. 5.6 would have been a sweeter spot for the lens and give a little more dof as mentioned above. This would mean using Aperture priority rather than Shutter. Most portraits would be shot in Av mode. When viewed large, the top of her shoulder is slightly sharper that her eyes, - so make sure you move the focus point to the nearest eye to the camera. She is a little too close to the background which has resulted in a shadow that would be better not there. The wall did act as somewhat of a reflector, brightening her face.
A cheap diffuser for the on board flash is a piece of tissue wrapped around it, so its a little larger than the flash surface that you might try sometime, - its surprisingly effective.

There is a little red in the black area of her eye which Ive cleaned up in the mod, - its slight, but its there. Not a very obvious red eye example, but subtle.

The mod Ive uploaded is cropped to get as close as possible to the best composition, which also gives it an 8 X 10 printable aspect ratio; I have added a small highlight in her other eye; sharpened overall; and brightened the hair slightly.

One last question, - is it possible you applied some skin smoothing, and if so, did it also affect her eyes, - just a possibility I would like to rule out as a cause of softness.

Hope this helps,


Sooty_1 10 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2012 4:35PM
Agreed with most of the above. I would prefer a little more space around the head to give you more options, and the camera flash is so the wrong way to shoot these. The ugly shadows spoil the look.

If you get her to lift her chin and extend her neck, the ugly lines and potential double chin around her neck disappear, the earring hangs properly, the shape of her face is more flattering and she can move slightly to allow both eyes to be shown fully. She looks slightly hunched as she is.

Close, but not quite there, though if the 'customers' are happy, that is the main thing.

TheRiverRat 10 5 1 United Kingdom
23 Sep 2012 4:56PM
Thanks for all the comments will try and take all points into consideration for my next upload, Think the skin softness came from using Portrait Professional, a programme I will never use again but like I said I was out of my comfort zone and it seemed the better option. Model was not the best to pose if I am honest a 16 year old who was nervous infront of the camera and worried about looking silly. Have now invested in a580EX ll so there will be no more on board flash
pablophotographer 9 1.9k 405
24 Sep 2012 1:26AM
I have noticed a common mistake girls do in pictures where a bit of body flesh is shown, I've mentioned also in my blog, they forget to apply make up so their faces look whiter... I had met a young lady on a train and i was amazed by her talent applying make up. She ended up looking completely natural (to my opinion she didn't need any at all to look pretty) We've started talking, she told me she was not a professional but she had learned her lesson after noticing it in her pictures. I think the photographers ought to tell the models (especially the less experienced) things that they ought to know so their looks and our photographs improve.
paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
24 Sep 2012 11:49AM
This is a nice shot and the composition, whilst breaking some rules it works well. Get in close and fill the frame. There is a slight sharpness loss and you explain that but f8 would be better for adequate depth of field. You probably had to use your on board or camera mounted flash, but for the best portraits you do need a lighting set up. Main light and fill in at least. A whole subject in itself, far too much for here.


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