Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Off-topic: portraits

I saw a good posting by Ryan Pendleton on DPS: How Self-Portraiture Makes You a Better Photographer. He convinced me to sit down and try a session with myself. I hung a dark blanket on a basement wall, unscrewed some light bulbs, pushed the ISO up to 1600 and used the self-timer to take about a dozen shots.

My biggest revelation: when I think I'm smiling, I'm not. I had to really crank up the grin to get something that wasn't morose. Mothers probably hold their children's hands a little tighter when I go by. But that made me think how important it must be to get a subject comfortable for a portrait, in case they have the same proclivity.

The technical parts were interesting, too. I needed to turn my head more than I expected to get an angle I liked; it felt a bit unnatural. And getting the focus correct, using available light in my dark basement, took some trial-and-error.

Post processing was pretty easy. I prefer black and white portraits, so I just desaturated and set the contrast where I wanted it. I tried a few of Lightroom's presets but in the end didn't use them. I also tried dialing in some "grain" but at ISO 1600 it wasn't needed. Went with a square crop, just because.

All in all, a useful exercise. Thanks to Ryan for the advice.

Dean Wight, by Dean Wight

The details: Pentax K-5, tripod-mounted, 1/5 sec. at f/7.1, ISO 1600, 50 mm (smc Pentax DA* 16-50mm F2.8 ED AL [IF] SDM)

No comments:

Post a Comment