Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Photography Class-Assignment #2...by (Angela) Jean (now with feedback added!)

This week's class assignment was focused on 'The Portrait'.

In our last few classes, we have been learning about different lighting styles....high key, low key, broad, short, butterfly, Rembrandt etc. We have set up different shots with lights in class and discussed lighting while viewing images, some professional and some by members of the class.

In this assignment we were to shoot two portraits, each with a unique lighting style, record our setting and write a short explanation of what we were trying to achieve.

Here are my images:  
Note: both of these images are straight from the camera, absolutely no editing was done.
Portrait #1-Sylvia
Lighting Style-High Key
Aperture-f 1.8
Shutter Speed-1/320
White Balance- Tungsten
Lighting-Natural, outdoors, 4pm

In this portrait I was attempting to achieve the low contrast, high-key lighting effect.  The wide-open aperture allows the image to be flooded with lots of light, washing out the skin tones, while the fast shutter speed keeps the image sharp. The natural sunlight was shining over her right shoulder, highlighting her hair, giving it a beautiful glowing effect. I used a very narrow depth of field to blur the brick background and keep the attention on Sylvia’s face. I took a few shots with the white balance set at Outdoor/Shade, but found them to be too yellow. I changed the white balance to Tungsten to give the image a bluish glow which I found very pleasing.

Class/Teacher Feedback: Generally positive. They felt the image captured the high-key effect for the most part. Some thought I could have achieved better results with using an external flash or two, rather than relying on natural light. Some felt that her white shirt was "too blown out", meaning the definition in the body was lost because of over exposure. Instructor said that he would have removed the highlighted stray hairs on the right side of the image.

Portrait #2-Shawn
Lighting Style-Low key/Short
Aperture-f 1.8
Shutter Speed-1/60
White Balance-Tungsten
Lighting-one light, placed on the floor, shining up toward the side of the face turned away from the camera

This portrait was meant to tell a story. Every evening, my husband Shawn sits in that chair marking his students’ math tests and homework. I sit on the couch opposite him, similar to the location of the camera in this photo. For this photo, I placed one of our bedside reading lamps on the floor, pointing up toward his face. It was the only light in the room. I wanted to make sure to capture some of the paper in the image since the portrait is not only about the subject, but also what he was doing at the time. The ISO was set to 800 to achieve the grainy look I wanted.

Class/Teacher Feedback: Not quite as much positive feedback on this image. The general thought was that the image wasn't dark enough to be low key, and that not enough of the subject's face was shaded to be truly 'short' lighting (i.e. his face should have been turned slightly more toward the camera). Most of the class felt the image would have been better in black & white. (however, I tried that, and I disagree).

As usual, I'm nervous about having these photos reviewed and critiqued in front of the class, but I'm looking forward to seeing my classmates' work. Some of them have already shown some incredible work. I'll let you know how it goes.

While it's never particularly fun to hear negative comments about work you have done, it is very valuable to look at these images from someone else's perspective. I think as the photographer, it's difficult to put aside what else was going on around the image at the time you were shooting, and focus only on the final product. The viewer never knows what you were trying to do, they only see what you did. 

I continue to learn a lot in this class, but every week I'm reminded of how I am still only scraping the surface of what there is to know!

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