Sunday, 26 September 2010

Last WOW! Class of the year

Just finished my last WOW! Composition class for the year with a bunch of great students producing some awesome results.
Day one was spent shooting around Darling Harbour - looking at getting the strongest compositions that we could in this area. The main problem we faced on the day was contrast - one of the hottest days of the year, so the contrast was a bit on the high side.
On day two I decided to throw in a couple of amateur models for the students to shoot, just to see how they could cope and deal with the pressure of having to shoot 'unknowns' with no preparation at all. 
I shouldn't have worried because the students came up trumps with a bunch of great results, shot in a range of extremely difficult lighting situations.
All the images you see here have been retouched using Adobe Photoshop and Portrait Professional.

Shot by Simon Jeans, a very strong image with great rim lighting front and back. Excellent result.
Another shot from Simon. Very simple, telephoto shot with a nice fade to softness into the background. Olympus E-420
Interesting low-key portrait by Ritesh Patel using a Panasonic GF-1 and 40mm f1.7 lens, great for low light work but not flattering if you shoot too close to the subject (as it creates distortion).
Second portrait by Ritesh, nicely off-centre with the model looking off-camera - this produces a really strong sense of tension in the composition...
Classic portrait by Brett Matthews with perfect positioning of the model's head in the darker door panel in the background. Considering it's the background that normally lets you down in terms of a good result (or not), this is a near-perfect result.
Another portrait from Brett shooting with a 50mm f1.4 Nikkor lens - which produces a new perfect out of focus effect on the background
Great portrait from Helen McCaffrey - good angle which clearly adds a bit of 'stress' to the composition. Background is nicely out of focus too...
Another good result from Helen - a very 'casual' look from model Fabio. Black-and-white seems to work better in this example. Boys do black-and-white well...
Another strong portrait of Fabio from Selena Young. I converted the colour shot to black-and-white in post, simply because I felt it made the image appear stronger - but the casual pose and the attitude of the model shines through impressively. Canon EOS 450D.
Selena's portrait of Ute. We had a lot of discussion about how to shoot a portrait of someone wearing glasses. Ute solved the riddle by pushing them onto her head!
Fabio shot by Joseph Mirabito. A nice, simple portrait of the model with good clarity and a nice out of focus background.
Last shot of the day, again by Joseph Mirabito, good close-up of Ute. Canon EOS D-SLR.
Great job by all on the day.

Tips for getting better portraits.
Use a medium telephoto lens setting (about 80-150mm focal length) to get a nice head and shoulders framing withut being too close to the subject.
Work with a small aperture to restrict the depth of field to throw the background details out of focus
But be wary of where the camera focuses.
Manually focus on the EYES
Work with the subject - talk to the model - they will have no idea how the pictures are looking so show them what the results look like...

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