Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Portrait Assignment #2

Last week's assignment involved using a reflector. A reflector is a white, gold or silver disc (or you can use a sheet of foam core board) that is used to bounce light onto your subject. The extra light is helpful in filling in shadows and cleaning up skin tones. Because the skin is reflective, sometimes the tone of the skin can take on the color of its surroundings. For example, if you are photographing someone sitting on grass, their skin can take on a green hue. But if you use a reflector under their face, it cleans up the skin tone.

I photographed our cousin Emily for this assignment. Each set of photographs had a specific set of directions to follow. The teacher's critiques and what I learned from the critiques are below each set of pictures.

Set 1: Photograph the same person with and without a reflector, using window light as your source. For yourself, try placing the reflector at several different distances. Keep track and write down the order that you shoot: no reflector, 1’, 2’, 3’, 4’, etc. Repeat with white, gold and silver if you have them. (I only have white.)

Window light, no reflector

Window light with reflector 1' off to Emily's left

Teacher critique: Macy, some lovely images of the model and your are starting to get the right idea of the reflector. In #1 and #2, the light source is just off your right shoulder, coming onto the model from her left, so there is a small loop shadow and shading on her right side or camera left. The reflector is generally used to fill in the shadows, so it should be placed on the opposite side of the light. I do see that #2 is brighter, but the exposure is opened up a touch, and the shadows are not filled in. Try this setup again and place the reflector on camera left.

My reaction: She's obviously right as I look at the pictures now. Figuring out where to put the reflector was the hardest part for me. One of the things she always says is to put your own head where the model's head will be so you can see where the light is coming from. I should have put the reflector where she said. It's like a gigantic game of pool - it's all about the angles. I was always really bad at pool, which is odd since we had a pool table in our basement growing up. The second shot is lighter because I had a different shutter speed, not because of the reflector.

Set 2: Photograph a person in the shade (for example under a tree, or in the shade of a building or on a cloudy day) with and without a reflector.

In the shade - without reflector

In the shade, with reflector

Teacher Critique: #3 and 4 are great examples of using a reflector to clean up skin tones and brighten the eyes. Her skin tone is much smoother in #4, and really lovely expression. Cute pose, too!

My Reaction: I was surprised when I was looking at these that there actually is a difference in her skin and eyes when I used the reflector. Not a ton of difference, but it was there. Look at her right cheek in both shots - that was where I saw the biggest difference. I didn't edit any of these shots in Photoshop like I usually do, because I wanted to make sure the differences I was seeing were in the original shot, not because of post processing. I can't really take credit for the cute pose - that was Emily's idea. She does such a great job with her poses. All I have to do is tell her where to turn her head when I'm taking pictures of her. She does the rest. It makes my job quite easy. :)

Set 3: Photograph a person in the shade catching sunlight and bouncing it back.

I took this shot at the corner of their house, right by the garage door. She is in complete shade and the reflector is in front of her, bouncing the light back. When I posted this for class, I commented that I need a bigger reflector in gold or silver to really make this look better from a lighting perspective. I think it turned out well, but a different reflector would have helped.

Teacher Critique: I agree with you on #5, a brighter reflector, like silver or gold, would have added more kick to the quality of light. But her skins tones are lovely here, too. Beautiful girl and terrific images!

My Response: I don't really have one - but I'm glad she confirmed what I already thought. That made me feel better. And Emily is a beautiful girl. I totally agree on that one.

I'm really learning a lot in this class. I'm enjoying it immensely. Doing the homework is actually fun! And I'm working on the rest of the shots I took that day of the rest of the kids. I can't wait to finish them and get them posted!


rebecca said...

These are so fun to read, Macy. I feel like I'm learning a portion of what you are:) Thanks for sharing. I'd love to know more about these classes...the homework DOES sound fun and I'd love to get a better grip on photography.

LL said...

NICE! these really are amazing. Emily IS beautiful and it's fun to hear the things you're learning. Can I be your apprentice? :)
See you tomorrow

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