Tag Archives: portrait

eBook Review: Portrait Tips and Techniques

Portraits… a very broad topic with deep technical and artistic aspects. A portrait photographer must have control and understanding of the subject, surroundings, light, and camera in order to create images with impact. This is generally the case in any type of photography, but portraits demand a higher level of control.

Educating yourself on the subject of portraiture can be difficult because of the inherent technical material. But with the right teacher or author, this material can be absorbed with minimal pain to the brain.

Volume 1 of Wayne Radford’s Portrait Tips and Techniques is a book that covers the many aspects of black & white natural light portraiture (and the material applies to color portraits as well). The lessons and teachings are somewhat technical, but the material is presented in a “down to Earth” fashion that anybody can understand. You can download an 8 page sample of the eBook here [PDF].

Check the end of this review for your chance at a free copy of the full version!

[tweetmeme]You can purchase Volume 1 of Portrait Tips and Techniques from Wayne Radford’s website. Links in this post are affiliate links to the product.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Portrait Tips and Techniques, Volume 1 is a 126 page downloadable eBook containing 4 main chapters encompassing 10 distinct lessons. The end of the book also contains a selection of sample work from the author and a couple of clean and concise guides to facial analysis and lighting. And the supporting graphics… this book has over 90 great sample shots, diagrams, and charts. Click on the images below for a larger view.

The book starts off with an introduction from the author in addition to some extra background material on his journey as a portrait photographer. Then we jump into “Facial Recognition”, or posing techniques for your subjects. The next main section is “Lighting Techniques”, all of which are in the realm of natural light. The last two chapters cover “Exposure” and “Composition” as they relate specifically to portraits. The book wraps up with a sample gallery of work from Wayne Radford and two single-page charts for lighting and posing (very handy).

Throughout the book, sample images and illustrations are used to convey the lessons found in the text. Wayne also deconstructs his photos to convey a particular technique and show how it was used to create that photo. All in all, this is a very visual guide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wayne Radford is an Australian professional portrait photographer specialising in Black & White, and he’s been doing it for over 25 years. While he’s done his fair share of weddings, in 2000 Wayne switched over exclusively to children’s environmental portraiture.

Throughout his career he has received numerous State and National awards for his unique style of photography including the Australian Professional Photography Awards category; “1996 Wedding Photographer of the Year” at both National and State judging. In addition he also received the classification of “Master of Photography”. On two occasions he has won the “Highest Scoring Black & White Print” at these awards.

You can see some of Wayne’s work on his Radford Photography website and on Flickr. For his non-portrait work, also check out his Radford Editions website.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a wonderful, educational, and inspirational book on the topic of portrait photography. I love the fact that it focuses on natural light techniques and uses black & white images for illustration. It’s direct, focused, and it cuts out the extra fluff and off-topic discussion.

This would be a great book for two types of photographers: those wanting to learn portraits from the ground up, and those wanting to add more to their existing knowledge of portraiture. Either way, this book will certainly step up your game.

You can purchase Volume 1 of Portrait Tips and Techniques for $19.95 until December 20, at which point it will return to the regular price of $24.95. (the image says Dec 12, but the end date is really Dec 20)

WANT A FREE COPY?

[UPDATE 11/22/2010] The winners have been chosen. You can see the results here.

Of course you do! I’ve got 3 copies of the eBook to hand out and we’ll run this as a simple raffle in the comments below. Here are the rules:

  • One entry per person.
  • Leave a comment with the word “freebook” in there somewhere.
  • Do it on or before 11/19/2010.

After the deadline, I’ll pull 3 random numbers and see if the corresponding comments have the word “freebook” in them. If not, I’ll pull additional numbers until 3 winners have been chosen.

Link Roundup 09-01-2010

Finally starting to clear out my feed reader and catching up on these link posts. I have about 10 or 15 more in the hopper, but I’ll save them for another day.

15 Examples of Environmental Portraits

[tweetmeme]Here are the results from another great round of Epic Edits Flickr Challenge! #5 was all about “environmental portraits” (chosen by the winner of the last round), and we had another great set of entries. This round was difficult for me to choose photos because environmental portraits share a blurry line with traditional portraits and street photography.

The winner this round was Carsten Fischer, also known as “topfloor” on Flickr. As the winner, he gets to choose the next topic:

CHALLENGE #6: “CAMERA PORN”
FLICKR TAG: “EE-CAMERAPORN”

For those not familiar with the term, “camera porn” is a photo of cameras or other photography gear as the main subject. Just remember that the photos must be in our Flickr pool and tagged with “ee-cameraporn”. Now for the environmental portraits, starting with my favorite:

counting fish
counting fish by topfloor

This photo is really catchy to me… though I can’t put my finger on a single reason for liking it so much. The low perspective gives a more intimate feel to the scene. The complimentary yellow hood and blue fins work well together as secondary focal points. The man himself is an interesting subject. All together, it works very well.

On with the other selections I made:

Risky
Risky by topfloor

Surfer and Board
Surfer and Board by Brian Auer

Mahout
Mahout by KBTimages.co.uk(uk_photo_art)

Cheesman Park and Grey Skies
Cheesman Park and Grey Skies by RussHeath

Dads with crazy cameras are hilarious!
Dads with crazy cameras are hilarious! by RussHeath

La hilandera
La hilandera by Miguel Aguilar

Name Forgotten
Name Forgotten by Brian Auer

Model for the masses
Model for the masses by topfloor

Sketch Artist
Sketch Artist by breischl

_MG_0168Monk
_MG_0168Monk by Joanie H

DSC_2450
DSC_2450 by joshuamorris15

Homeless, Names Unknown
Homeless, Names Unknown by Brian Auer

Master of Light - Joe McNally is blessing us
Master of Light – Joe McNally is blessing us by topfloor

Chamunda Devi 1_Chilam
hamunda Devi 1_Chilam by SaritsInOz

Link Roundup 08-23-2010

Okay… these are a little old, but I’m just getting back on the ball with my feed reading and link sharing. I have plenty more coming, but I didn’t want to push them all out at once.

On a side note, we’re also going to get the Flickr Challenge going again. The current challenge is “environmental portraits” — you can read the announcement here and see the current entries in the pool. I’ll be choosing the winners sometime this week.

Link Roundup 06-14-2010

I just realized that it’s been a few weeks since I posted some links! So here are a few that I have in my list… I’ve got more, but I don’t like posting more than 10-15 links at a time.

Photoshop Technique: Digital Airbrush

[tweetmeme]Airbrushing is (or was) a process typically used to remove minor imperfections in portrait, model, and fashion photography (among other uses in photography). I’ll be presenting a digital airbrush technique in Photoshop intended to slightly smooth out skin textures in close up portraits. Sharp lenses and good lighting can produce very detailed captures, including all the small wrinkles and pores. Sometimes you just want to smooth out all those little things.

I’ve also created a Photoshop action to speed up the process described below. All you have to do is open up the original image and run it. The action stops at the filter dialogs and allows you to adjust them before proceeding. At the end of the action, you’re all set up and ready to start airbrushing.

DOWNLOAD THE DIGITAL AIRBRUSH PHOTOSHOP ACTION

I should also mention that I learned this technique from at least one or two other sites out there (can’t find the source for the life of me right now). I’m definitely not the originator — I’m just passing along my own interpretation of the process.

So here’s the image I’ll be working with… a very close-up and well-lit portrait. What you see immediately below is the final image after applying this airbrush technique. I’d show you the before image, but you wouldn’t be able to see much of a difference at this size.

Amazing Portrait of Merunisha Peel

A couple of things to remember before I get into it: don’t go overboard with the processing, experiment with the numbers to suit your image, and what I’m showing here is not the only way to do it. So let’s get started.

1. ORIGINAL IMAGE

This is a crop of the original image after being processed in ACR for exposure, contrast, white balance, etc. The crop is a 50% zoom so we can see more of the image while retaining some of the important details. Take note of the small skin wrinkles and pores — these are the things we’re going to smooth out a bit.

2. DUPLICATE BACKGROUND

When you open it up into Photoshop, duplicate the background layer. We need to do this because we’re going to apply some destructive modifications to the top layer, and we’ll be applying a layer mask later on. Essentially, we’re going to make a “new skin” that can be airbrushed over the existing image.

3. SMOOTH IT OUT

Now it’s time to make that skin into plastic. Apply the “Dust & Scratches” filter (Filter >> Noise >> Dust & Scratches…). Start with a 5px radius and adjust until you get something almost cartoon-looking. You want to get rid of the small details while maintaining the bigger details.

4. ADD BLUR

After smoothing out the little things, we want to add some blur to soften up the bigger things. Apply a “Gaussian Blur” filter (Filter >> Blur >> Gaussian Blur…). Again, start with a 5px radius and adjust until you lose that cartoon look. You want to soften the hard edges while maintaining some amount of contrast in the larger details.

5. ADD NOISE

This one is nearly impossible to see even at a 50% zoom — it’s very subtle. Apply a small amount of the “Noise” filter (Filter >> Noise >> Add Noise…). Start around 0.7px with a uniform monochromatic noise and adjust until you can barely see it at 100% zoom. You want to break up the plastic look just a tiny bit with some texture.

6. MASK IT

Now that you’ve completely destroyed the working layer, mask it all out. Add a layer mask and fill it in black (Layer >> Layer Mask >> Hide All). Now your image should look like the original because we’ve masked out the modified layer.

7. AIRBRUSH TIME!

Grab your brush tool, soften up the edges, set the color to white, put the opacity to around 10 or 20%, and select the layer mask we just created. Adjust your brush size to suit your needs and start painting in some of the fake skin. The key here is to do a little bit at a time while varying your brush size and edge hardness. Paint over the areas where you want to remove small details. You want to brush in a little more fake skin than you need — we’ll fix it in just a second.

The image above shows the mask applied to the image. You can see that we’ve removed most of the skin texture while keeping the details in the eye.

The image above shows the mask for the entire image. You can see that I focused mostly on the areas… in focus. I also made it a point to avoid the eyes, mouth, and hair. We don’t want to soften up these areas.

8. BACK TO REALITY

At this point, you probably have something slightly resembling a plastic doll. No biggie — we can fix it. Simply adjust the opacity of the modified layer until you bring back some of the original skin texture. I ended up with an opacity of 70%, but you’ll need to judge and adjust your own image based on how heavy you modified the skin during the airbrushing.

9. BEFORE & AFTER

As you can see from this split image, the final adjustment is not very harsh. The intent was to smooth out the very small wrinkles and skin pores visible in on the face.

And for those of you viewing this on the site, you can mouse over the image below to see an after and before effect. RSS and email readers will need to visit the site to see it (there’s a JavaScript mouseover making it all happen).

I don’t use this technique very often, but it’s a good one to know. Useful for close up portraits, but that’s about it. And don’t abuse it — soft and subtle is the key here. A bit of skin texture is actually a good thing!

Link Roundup 05-15-2010

Best Studio Lighting Tutorials?

So… it pains me to admit it, but I’ve turned a new page today. I finally learned something about artificial lighting (studio lighting to be exact).

I know… *gasp* say it isn’t so!

But don’t worry, I’m no expert quite yet. All I basically learned was that you set your camera to ISO100, f/8, and 1/200-1/250 seconds, then tune your exposure with the power settings on the lights (at least that’s the “norm” for this particular studio). Maybe not Earth-shattering for those familiar with lighting, but this is all new for me (and maybe some of you).

I’ve got a model shoot coming up next weekend for Green Man T-Shirts and I spent about an hour at DK3 Studios yesterday with Dave King learning how to work his equipment. (Cool dude, by the way. And an awesome/affordable studio here in San Diego).

I’m still blown away by how simple this stuff can be if you switch the camera over to manual and follow a few basic rules… maybe I’ll post more about this after the photo shoot next weekend, but right now I’m looking for advice.

Assuming that the technical side of the equipment is not the issue, I’m still up against lighting techniques for photographing models (upper body shots, portraits, etc.).

SO HERE’S MY QUESTION TO YOU:

What are the best studio/model/portrait lighting techniques that you’ve encountered?

I’m looking for links to articles, resources, ebooks, blogs, etc. Here are a few that I’ve gathered myself…

I’m sure there are many more out there, so feel free to share in the comments. If we get enough, I’ll post them in an article next week so others can check it out.

16 Examples of Extraordinary Model Portraits

My near-future adventure into the world of photographing models has my gears turning, and I’ve been looking for examples of extraordinary model portraits. A lot of stuff I found out there is somewhat generic with lighting and pose — and maybe because that’s what works for the client. But as an art photographer, I felt a little empty with that kind of stuff. So I went in search of some extraordinary model photography.

What I found was that I’m most attracted to the portraits that stand out from the rest. The really unique stuff. I also found that the unique qualities can come from either the models themselves or the photographers. And when you combine a unique and talented model with a unique and talented photographer, you get magic.

The following selection of photos come from a mix of professional and amateur photographers. The models in the shots might also be a mix of professionals, amateurs, friends, and even the photographer taking the photo. Do note: a couple of the photos below are quite informal and the subject is not a model, but I included them because they are good examples of what could be done in a formal portrait situation.

You can also see my Flickr Gallery here.

Day One Hundred Forty One
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dustin Diaz

So
Creative Commons License photo credit: Luc D

First time with a Hasselblad
Creative Commons License photo credit: Carlo Nicora

20090427_aurum_0090
Creative Commons License photo credit: checkmezov

Andreas Tilliander Makes His Move
Creative Commons License photo credit: Aeioux

Her Tangible Dream •.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Felipe Morin

Jesús Hidalgo10
Creative Commons License photo credit: Esther Marí

mallard pinup
Creative Commons License photo credit: MadMannequin

{ you're the only one !! }
Creative Commons License photo credit: graphistolage

Coleção Geometologia - Neandro Ferreira
Creative Commons License photo credit: André-Batista

PORTRAIT OF A FRIEND
Creative Commons License photo credit: Akbar Simonse


Creative Commons License photo credit: Carolina Parragué

The third eye
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tywak

Collab5 (Picture II)
Creative Commons License photo credit: TNT Photo

Oriol Lopez Sanchez 01 © studio.es
Creative Commons License photo credit: Vincent Boiteau

Let The Curtain Come Down
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti

Do you have any good examples of model portraits or other posed portraits? Feel free to drop your photos into the comments below. And if you have any favorites from fellow photographers, leave a link so we can check it out!

Portrait Photography eBook Winners

The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography

Last week, when I posted the review of The Essential Guide to Portrait Photography, I also mentioned that we had two copies of the book to give away. In order to win a book, you had to post a photo or a Flickr Gallery having to do with the topic of the book. We had only photo entries (sorry guys, sets are not the same as galleries), so I picked two of my favorite photos to receive a copy of the book.

You’ll find the winners of the contest below with their own comments before the image. The book is free for these two, but the rest of you can still grab a copy of your own. The price is now just under $20, but still totally worth it for the amount of useful content it contains.

WINNER #1

Photo by Faisal. This little girl instantly got my interest in photographing her. I was captivated by her innocence and perhaps a little saddened by a certain abandoned gaze in her eyes. The place is ‘Jaglot Gor’ on the way to Hunza from Gilgit, Northern Pakistan. We had delicious Chapshru (a local dish) here.

Photo by Faisal

WINNER #2

Photo by Jonathan Robson. Taken last weekend, very hard to get them both in the same frame!

Photo by Jonathan Robson