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Portraitfotografie: het werken met modellen

In this part we'll talk about portrait fotography and comparing the
Canon 300D with the Sony DSC-F828

With portrait fotography, the importance is the subject, not it's surroundings. Of course the surroundings can be quite nice, even interesting, but if they dominate the picture, it's not portrait fotography anymore, but landscape fotography.

For instance: this example is a perfectly wrong one. Sure the model is sharp, it's in the center of the picture, ... But the eyes of the viewer are drawn towards the advertisement halfway left. You can't read the advertisement (it's out of focus); but nevertheless, it draws the attention away from the model and that's not what we want. And just because the advertisement is out of focus, people are trying to read it (believe me: they wouldn't try to read it if it was in focus! —that's just how the human brain is functionning).

This is a perfect example of a picture with bad 'bokek' (speak it out like you want, but not like 'Bouquet' from Keeping up appearances'). Bokeh is traditonally associated with high quality lenses having a low circle of confusion, and thus providing a sharp subject and blurred background. But it's not enough of having a high quality lens: you also need some basic portrait photography courses.
You can read more about circles of confusion and other optical facts on our shop site. It's in our mailing from 'maart 2005' and indeed, it's in Dutch.

Both examples are much better:

You can get correct focus and illumination by targetting the model's face, half-pressing the shutter (this will lock auto-focus and aperture/shutter speed combination), then framing your model like you want. It's best to use spot-metering or spot-centered metering, because the important part in the picture is the face.
Some sun is OK, but never on the face itself (it's nearly impossible to take a good picture of a sunlit face because the contrast between light and dark parts is too strong)

Now, let's concentrate on the difference between the two camera's.
 Sony DSC-F828 Canon D300
F (aperture)5.57.1
Focal length51 mm55 mm
The Sony picture is above.
The picture data (shutter speed and so on) are included in the JPG file (exif metadata). Good picture vieuwers are able to display this information.
Attention, some photo editing softwarewill remove this information!

It's important to have a rather fast shutter speed (this will remove any trace of movement blur): 1/250 is fine. A rather high shutter speed will also cause the lens to open more. This is nice, because it reduces the depth of field (and that's why the trees are not sharp). Professional fotographers will use the "A" setting of their camera ("A" stands for aperture, not automatic) to select a low F-value (lens fully open), and let the camera decide the right shutter speed.
For the Sony, it's also important to have a low ISO setting (less noise). However, there is noise on dark parts in nearly ANY DSC-F828 picture, and it increases with the ISO setting. The noise can be quite disturbing on some pictures.

When comparing the full size pictures, you will see that the Canon gives you a more pleasing image. The skin colors are also more accurate.

For an even more dramatic effect, it can be fine to make the face fill the picture. Of course, there is no need here to place the subject at 1/3 of the image, since it will fill the whole area.

For most camera's, this is a realy easy job, because the contrast differences are limited (this is not the case when your model is only part of the frame); and for amateur photographers too, because the focus point (the spot used for taking image mesurements) is also located at the center of the frame: so no need to reframe after half-pressing the shutter. Since the model is closer to the lens, the background is also more blurred, even if you don't use specific "portrait" settings.

For this sort of close range fotography, it's best to use a focal distance of 50mm (135 equivalent), because smaller values (wider angle) will tend to create distortions and higher values (tele setting) will force you to use higher shutter speeds to remove camera motion blur (rule of thumb: shutter speed must be twice the focal lenght to get a sharp picture). Professional photographers mostly use a 50 to 80mm lens for close portrait photography.
You have camera motion blur when your picture does not have any sharp focus (a distance where the image is realy in focus): the following picture will show you what i mean:

This picture has a shutter time of 1/250, but a focal distance of 350 mm.

Some examples (more to follow!) These images were reviewed by a professional portrait fotographer.

Break the laws and put your subject in the middle of the picture (but don't do this for all your pictures, otherwise your show will soon get boring). Use the sun to enhance the muscular body, but try to avoid sun in the face.

Sit on your knees to take some pictures. This will enhance the dramatic effect. Best suited when taking pictures of muscular types. For this picture in the bathroom, a bounce flash was better suited than the standard one. The Sony HVL-F32X is the perfect companion for your DSC-F828: it even use the camera's TTL metering for determining the power needed.

Don't force your model to pose. Just wait. There will come a time, when tired, he will relax.

And wait for the sun to dim, when taking pictures in the sun.

A nice picture. The runner before exercise.
Showing your pictures
Sony DSC-F505
Digital vs. Chemical
Nikon Coolpix 950
Sony DSC-F505V
Olympus Camedia C3030
Nikon Coolpix 990
Action pictures
Nikon Coolpix 5700
Sony DSC-F707
Nikon Coolpix 5700
Nikon 5700 vs. Sony 707 vs. Nikon 990
Nikon 5700 features
Comparing the Sony DSC-F828 Nikon 5700 Canon 300D Sony DSC-F828 Nikon 5700 Nightshots and flashlights Comparing the Sony DSC-F828 and Canon 300D Portrait photography with the Sony DSC-F828 and Canon 300D Verfaillie Bauwens