BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘Portraits

Photo Critique 2: ‘Mauricio,’ by Daniel M.

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I love critiquing photos. It’s the best way to learn and get new ideas for photo shoots. Today, we’re going to critique an image made by Daniel, a former student of mine in Miami.

Mauricio, a portrait by Daniel of Miami, Florida

'Mauricio,' a portrait by Daniel of Miami, Florida

General Overview:
Daniel, you take great portraits and this is another example of your good work. You have a great eye for composition and lighting.

This is a nice portrait because, like Carla’s, of its relative simplicity. The viewer is drawn to the subject and you captured the subject’s mood very well. You did a great job showing emotion without using complex themes.
You can be very proud of this image.

Improvements
There are just a few things I would improve in this image. First, there are some hot spots on the nose, the right lower portion of the eye and the left upper corner of the eye. Those hotspots can easily be edited out of the image. Next, perhaps a little lighting under the subject would help give more definition between the chin and the neck. Also, I would use the healing brush (in Adobe Photoshop) and clean any areas of the skin that need a little touch up. Finally, I think I would have lit the hair just a little more to add some highlight and contrast.
If you would have used a low-powered light under the subject and a disc reflector above to bounce some light on the hair, the image would have looked better.

I like hard directional lighting and, as usual, you did an outstanding job.

Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at submissions@brickhousephotoschool.com.

Written by jeremyparce

February 19, 2009 at 12:57 am

Photo Lesson 1: Understanding Composition Part 1: Pre-Visualization

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Of all the topics to begin with, I think a lesson in composition will be our best starting point because it encompasses most – if not all – the other photographic topics we’ll discuss.

So, let’s start with a definition for composition. For our purposes, composition has a threefold meaning: 1. The arrangement of subject and background; 2. The interaction of the subject with the background; and 3. The method of photographically capturing the subject, background and the interactions between them.

As you can tell from the definition, composition is a fairly big deal when it comes to making images.

For the most part, the average person who uses a camera doesn’t really consider composition. These are snapshot takers who use a camera for events: birthdays, holidays, family reunions, etc.

But if you’re here, you probably want to go beyond the snapshots and start making images that have a purpose.

This site is intended for amateurs who want to start making better images, advanced hobbyists who need a refresher and for students who want to further study photography as an academic discipline. With that audience in mind, let’s begin.

Start With Pre-Visualization
As with most things, the first step is often the most important and I can think of no other way to begin than with pre-visualization.

Photography is an art, a science and a form of communication. As a form of communication it is important to determine the message you want to convey through a photograph.

Do you want a portrait that conveys an emotion? If so, what emotion? Do you want a landscape that shows depth or one that shows vastness? Do you want a sports photo that shows action or one that shows the emotion of the game?

Once you figure out WHAT message you want to convey, then it’s all a matter of composing it.

Experiment 1: Guess the Emotion

Pre-visualizing the image helps you determine how you're going to compose it. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Pre-visualizing the image helps you determine how you're going to compose it. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

What emotion was I attempting to convey in this photograph? Some people will say sadness, loneliness, or that she is anticipating an event. Well, all would be right. This photograph didn’t start out as a posed photo. I saw my friend Vero sitting on the ground and I thought that it would make a nice image.
Then I saw her expression. She was, as usual, in a relaxed, contemplative mood so I wanted to express her emotion photographically.

This is where composition begins. You conceive the idea and then you decide how to capture it.

What’s Next?
In the next lesson, we’ll discuss the next step in composition: Tool selection. Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 18, 2009 at 1:52 am

Valentine’s Day Flowers are a Double Treat

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If you were lucky enough to receive flowers for Valentine’s Day you’re in luck because you have a ready-to-go subject to photograph.

Flowers are the perfect photographic subject. Unlike people, the don’t whine, fidget about and you can move them just about anywhere you want.

Fresh out of ideas? Try these:

  • Close-ups: If you have a macro lens, flowers are a create subject to explore. Get close and exam individual petals or the stamens. Experiment with different aperture settings to see what look you like best.

    Experiment with different aperture values when using a macro lens to see what effect you like best. (Photo credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Experiment with different aperture values when using a macro lens to see what effect you like best. (Photo credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • Portraits: Put the flowers in the hands of a child or your loved one. Try photographs where the flowers are the subject and not just a prop.
  • Still Life: Photograph the arrangement as a whole or set up a whole prop where the flowers are the subject. Design the set around the flowers. Look for different colors to compliment the shoot. Wanna go bold? Shoot the flowers in black and white and study the texture.

Don’t let those flowers go to waste! Use them to explore color, texture and light. Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 17, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Photo Critique 1: ‘Charlie,’ by Carla B.

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I love critiquing photos. It’s the best way to learn and get new ideas for photo shoots.
Today, we’re going to critique an image made from Carla, a friend of mine in Miami.

'Charlie,' a portrait by Carla in Miami, Florida.

'Charlie,' a portrait by Carla in Miami, Florida.

General Overview:
Carla, first I want to say that you did a great job on this portrait. Considering you only have about two years of experience, you do an outstanding job. I enjoy this portrait because of its relative simplicity. It’s focus is completely on the subject and you captured the subject’s personality quite well, I believe.

You can be very proud of this image.

Improvements
Overall, I would say there are just a few things I would improve in this image. First, the cast shadow coming from the collar to the t-shirt on the right side of the image. This cast shadow is coming from the right-side light source.

How to fix it? Another light on the left side would help or using a disc reflector to bounce some light and fill in that shadow.

Although I like hard directional lighting, this image might be made better by softening up the shadows on the face, especially the shadows coming from the nose, chin and lips. Again, I think a disc reflector bouncing some light back across the face would have made this image very, very sharp.

One more tip: The left ear is partially exposed. I think I would have burned it in just a little more.

Carla, great job overall. Playing with light is one of the best ways to make more interesting images and build a better portfolio.

Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at submissions@brickhousephotoschool.com

Written by jeremyparce

February 17, 2009 at 12:26 am

Composing Tip: Frame-within-a-Frame

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Photographic composition is a topic we’re going to discuss in great detail on this Website. Simply put, composition is the arrangement of items inside the photograph and the interaction of these objects with one another.

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s consider there are only 2 objects in the photograph: One, the subject and, two, the background.

Before we go further let’s examine one fundamental concept: You are making images for a viewer. That viewer may only be you but more than likely you’ll want to show off your images to others. Beginning photographers often forget the audience aspect of photography and because of this, they forget to emphasize what they think is important about the photo.

Remember, the viewer can’t read your mind. You need to give them visual clues as to what YOU, the photographer, thought was important when you made the photograph.

First Step: Visualize the Photograph
It’s important to first visualize the photograph you’re going to make. Ask yourself:

  • What’s the important feature of this photograph?
  • What do I want the viewer to focus on?
  • What, if any, emotion am I trying to convey?

If you keep your audience in mind and mentally construct how you’re going to convey your photographic message, you’re going to make better images.

Jeremy W. Schneider)

Using the Civil Air Patrol cadets' bodies to create a frame, the viewers' attention is drawn to the flag bearer. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Determining Visual Clues
Once you’ve determined what you want to focus on in the photograph, you need to decide how you’re going to get your audience to focus on that object.

Some photographs don’t need visual clues. Sometimes it’s OK to let the viewer’s eyes just wander around in the frame. Other times, it’s important to help the viewer focus.

Jeremy W. Schneider)

In this image, I'm using the sides of the elevator to help from the subjects. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Frame-within-a-Frame
One technique is framing the subject within the photographic frame. This means using the background or the subject to help frame what you want to convey to your viewers.

Look at the images embedded into this article and decide whether or not the frame-within-a-frame technique was useful in helping you focus on the subject.

Remember, like any technique there’s no formula for absolute success. It’s a trial-and-error process. Also remember that in photography, there’s not a one-size-fits-all technique. Good luck and keep shooting!

Jeremy W. Schneider)

Using the subject's hands helps create both an interesting look and draw the viewers to the subject's face. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Written by jeremyparce

February 15, 2009 at 7:09 am

Portrait Tip: Get Close

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Jeremy W. Schneider)

Getting close to your subject helps eliminate competing elements from taking the focus away from your subject. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

I love portraits. I especially like the low-frill, natural light type where the emphasis is placed squarely on the subject.

Beginning photographers often don’t own a lot of lighting equipment or a host of lenses to make technically complex portraits but that’s OK. You can make beautiful portraits utilizing some very basic techniques.

One of the best things you can do to make a great portrait is get close to your subject. It sounds basic, and really it is, but too many times beginning photographers stand too far away from the subject and let the background compete with the subject for the viewer’s attention.

By getting close, you eliminate distractions and compel the viewer to focus on the subject.

There’s one important thing to remember, though. You have to make your subject connect with the viewer. So look for something “special” about your subject. Maybe it’s the subject’s smile or the subject’s eyes. Look for a flattering way to connect your subject to the viewer.

So, get busy and start making portraits that pop!

Written by jeremyparce

February 15, 2009 at 1:10 am