Posted tagged ‘portrait’

I’m just a regular guy: Part 5

March 17, 2011

I recently had the pleasure to do a contemporary portrait shoot for a little boy’s third birthday.  It’s now my 7th shoot for the same family.  I’ve shot his parents’ wedding, did portrait shoots for his 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthdays, and also three portrait shoots of their dogs.

"2009 age 1" by Derek Gale

Here he is, looking very cute, on his first birthday.  At that time he was not quite able to walk unaided, and he had a mass of curly hair that was cut soon after this shoot.

"2010 age 2" by Derek Gale

Fast forward from 2009 to 2010. He’s grown loads and now has a smart haircut.  He also now knows how to work an Iphone…

"2011 age 3" by Derek Gale

Fast forward from 2010 to 2011. He’s grown even more, still has a smart haircut, and can operate an Ipad too…

"2011 age 3" by Derek Gale

He’s a great portrait subject because he’s got a wide range of facial expressions.  We were throwing a small red ball around, actually an old Red Nose Day squeaky nose, and he was celebrating if his Dad caught it.  I caught him too, mid laugh.

"2011 age 3" by Derek Gale

He also did a sort of celebratory dance when the nose was caught, clearly influenced by those that footballers do when they score goals.

"2011 age 3"

This final image shows his resting face.  He was looking at his Dad in a very thoughtful way.  Just a moment later he was laughing again.

It’s been great watching him change from a baby to a proper little boy. 

Why not book a contemporary portrait shoot for your family, and watch them grow?

Cheers,

Derek                                                 www.galephotography.co.uk

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The adults are alright too!

March 3, 2011

In my previous post I talked about photographing children, and mentioned at the end that I’m happy to photograph adults too!   Here are some images from a recent shoot for an adult couple.

"Blue toned" by Derek Gale

This is a blue-toned black and white image.  The toning adds to the cool look of his serious expression, but the image is lifted by the slight smile on her face.  The plan was to have neither of them smiling, however I really liked the contrast with one person smiling and one not smiling.

"Fill flash" by Derek Gale

With this image I wanted to make sure that her outfit, carefully chosen to match her eyes, was properly recorded, so it needed to be in colour.  To give a tiny little catchlight in her eyes I used a tiny pop of fill-in flash.  The long focal length lens has put the background nicely out of focus.

"Fill flash 2" by Derek Gale

I’ve used the same fill-in flash technique here.  He was in an area shaded by a large building so needed that extra reflection in his eyes.  He’s over to the right side of the frame, which balances with the space on the left side of the frame, gives him an area to look into, and draws you into the image.

"Focus on the eyes" by Derek Gale

In this last image he was in a much more open area which gave good eye reflections, so didn’t need an extra catchlight.  Going in close and using a large lens aperture has thrown most of his head out of focus, leaving just the plane of his face sharp.  This lets us concentrate on his expression and eyes.  There’s a direct communication between us and the subject, making for a strong portrait.

It was a fun shoot with a great couple.

Cheers,

Derek                       www.galephotography.co.uk

“The kids are alright”

February 24, 2011

In 1965 The Who had a song called, “The kids are alright”.  As a portrait photographer it’s great working with kids.  Until they are about 4 years old they’ll just do what they want to do.  It makes for exciting shoots, as I’m never sure of what they are going to do next.  It’s also fun working out the lighting, and sometimes it’s best to leave it simple and fairly broad.

Here are some examples from a recent shoot with two kids of different ages…

"Eyes only" by Derek Gale

This shot was taken with a single big softbox quite close to the little boy, which gave pretty even lighting.  He was looking up at his reflection in a curved mirror on the studio ceiling.  The mirror was put there for just this sort of shot.  His eyes said everything, so I didn’t need to show the rest of his face.

"Looking right" by Derek Gale

With this image the lighting is the same.  It was important to catch her great expression and smile without her looking at the camera.  A simple request for her to “Look at Mum and laugh”, gave the perfect balance of  spontaneity and control.  Her face is quite central, but that’s because I wanted to include her hair, which was falling nicely over her shoulders.

“Twirling hair” by Derek Gale

Here I’ve asked her to spin round so her hair was moving.  It usually takes a few tries to get a good shape, but we nailed it first time. It’s great the way her hair has wound round to the back of her head.  You can really see the energy she was putting into getting it right. 

"Cute expression" by Derek Gale

After the studio portraits we moved outside.  As the weather was kind, with soft overcast light, I managed to get some good outdoor images.  Using a wide aperture gave a good soft background, which allowed me to concentrate on his cute expression and eyes.

So yes, taking portraits of kids is great fun.  Don’t worry if you aren’t one, or don’t have any, I’m happy shooting adults too!

Cheers,

Derek                                       www.galephotography.co.uk

Same person: different look.

December 16, 2010

In creative portrait photography how an image looks is down to the photographer.  In the studio how you light your subject is critical, and for location images it’s critical to work properly with the natural light.  How you then modify the light can dramatically affect the look of an image. 

Once you have your lighting sorted, simple changes to the composition of the image can also change the look significantly.

"Split image" by Derek Gale

Take this image:  The lighting, a soft-box from the front, is quite simple.  The interest comes from having the subject’s face split by a sheet of muslin that was hung up to act as a diffuser/reflector.  I had taken a series without the muslin and then asked her to move slightly so that it was partly in front of her face.  It was far enough away from her to be nicely out of focus, and its translucency allowed the obscured part of her face to show through sufficiently.

"Hair!" by Derek Gale

We tried to get some shots  of her hair “in flight”. They were fine, but I wanted more structure to the image.  We spread her hair out on the studio floor and I shot from a step-ladder directly above her.   It was simple to light with a fairly directional light on her hair which gave a nice sharp shadow under her chin.  Even though her expression was similar to the previous image, the end result was very different!

"Poster girl" by Derek Gale

Away from the studio there’s less control of lighting direction, unless you carry remotely fired flash units, so you need to be careful with where you do your shoot.  This urban image was at an abandoned car repair centre and the fly posters had been  busy.  I made sure that enough of a poster was included to clearly show the type of area we were in, but not so much that the poster’s text was a distraction.  Her pose echoed the pose of the man on the poster.  I’ve punched up the background colour by “cross-processing” it in Photoshop.

"Wall supports" by Derek Gale

Same day, same shoot, completely different look.  The pipes in the image were supports for a wall near the Railway Village in Swindon and were at quite an acute angle.  By asking my model to lean on the pipes, and then tilting the camera so she looked more upright, her arms became much more elegant.  The background brickwork also became less distracting.  A crop to simplify the image, a bit of “diffuse glow”, and it was done.

"Estate portrait" by Derek Gale

Same day, same shoot and yet another look.  This final image shows how the most mundane of objects, an estate car, can be used for creative portraits.  My model is lying down on the load area floor.  The car’s open rear hatch screened the direct sun, which meant that the remaining light was beautifully diffused.  The grey carpet and shadow area from the rear seats acted as a perfect foil to her skin tones.  The black and white conversion simplified the image.

As you can see: one day, one model, many different looks.  Control your lighting and your composition to get variety into your images.

Cheers,

Derek                     www.galephotography.co.uk

One light portraits

October 28, 2010

It’s quite common for people to ask me about studio lighting.  Typically they’ll ask about the minimum photographic kit they need to get great portraits.  My reply is simple, “One light and a camera”.  After all, the sun is only one light…

Here’s a selection of images taken using just one light.  Most are in my portrait photography studio near Swindon, and the last one is taken on location using the “strobist” off-camera flash technique.

"One light #1" by Derek Gale

Here the single studio light is slightly below the subject’s eye line, and this gives a great edge light to her neck and face.  There’s enough light reaching her right eye to give a good catch light, which lifts her eye nicely out of the shadow.  The light was set up so nothing reached the background, hence it’s completely black.

"One light #2" by Derek Gale

This is using the same light but with a red gel on it.  I asked the subject to turn her head a bit towards me.  As a result of that very small movement, we now concentrate on her left eye instead.  As with the previous image I’ve cropped it to a vertical letterbox shape.  This gives a better line across the image frame.

"One light #3" by Derek Gale

I’ve moved my viewpoint so that I am looking straight down on her hair.  It’s being lit in a glancing way so that the texture has been picked out very clearly.  The vertical letterbox crop and off-centre composition with lots of dark space add mystery to the image.

"One light #4" by Derek Gale

This studio shot uses one light fitted with soft box, which acts as a light diffuser.  The diffused light directly on her face gives even areas of light and shade, with very soft shadows  It’s a completely different treatment to the previous images.  I’ve reduced the colour saturation in Photoshop to give the right mood.

"One light #5"

This final image is from a location portrait shoot in a disused quarry in the Forest of Dean.  The light is coming from a single remotely-triggered flash off to the left.  It’s going straight down the subject’s nose line.   The unlit side of the large block of stone makes a great background to her face.  The flash was quite close, and the area was fairly dark, so there’s no contribution to the exposure from the daylight.

So, you just need one light!

If you want to learn how to take more creative images, and to learn the composition techniques I’ve used here, why not book on to my “The Creative Eye” course near Wantage, Oxfordshire on Saturday 13th November?

Cheers,

Derek

www.galephotography.co.uk

They’re not all there…

October 7, 2010

One question that’s come up in discussions about portrait photography, is whether it’s necessary for a portrait to show the whole of a person’s face, or even to show their face at all?  In a previous blog post I explored the use of shadows and out of focus areas in creative portrait photography, and I’d like to develop that a bit more. 

"Part portrait 3" by Derek Gale

In this outdoor portrait I’ve cropped the image at the centre of the subject’s nose.  It helps to contrast their skin tones with the tones of the rusty corrugated metal behind them.  It also puts the person in a more interesting place in the frame, with much more space above them than the space they take up. 

"Part portrait 2" by Derek Gale

This is a horizontal treatment of the same compositional technique.  Here the empty space was black, so it was better to convert the image into black and white rather than leaving it in colour.  You get a real idea of the boy’s character even though you can’t see all of his face. 

"Part portrait 1" by Derek Gale

This is an even tighter crop on a girl’s face.  It’s said that the eyes are the “windows to the soul”, so I’ve really concentrated on a single eye.  As it was so strikingly blue, I left the eye in colour and converted the rest of the image to B&W.  This splash of colour helps to draw your eye to the girl’s eye. 

"Part portrait 6" by Derek Gale

So how small a part of a person can we show and still show their character?  This shot of an eye, taken with a macro lens, shows a good line of communication between the subject and the viewer.  The fact that the person’s “laughter lines” aren’t creased tells you that they aren’t smiling.  The direct gaze, with a large pupil, shows confidence. 

So what if we don’t show their face at all? 

"Part portrait 4" by Derek Gale

To me this is still a portrait even though the child’s face isn’t visible.  There’s a delightful contrast between the girl’s dress and the chunky boots; a contrast between smartness; “I’m being photographed”, and practicality; “It’s raining”.  Her parents would immediately recognise it as her. 

So, it’s clear to me that you can show a person’s character in a portrait without showing the whole face.  Set yourself a project to take a person’s portrait without showing their face at all! 

You can learn how to look for images like this, and learn creative compositional techniques, on my “The Creative Eye” course on November 13th at the Court Hill Centre near Wantage.  You can book your place here

Cheers, 

Derek 

www.galephotography.co.uk

A trip to deepest Surrey

September 9, 2010

For portrait photography most people come to our photographic studio in Oxfordshire.  However, on a recent family portrait shoot I travelled to deepest Surrey.  The shoot was for a family with three kids, and they were easy to work with; great fun, enthusiastic, and happy to be photographed. 

The family’s house had a verandah/porch with fabulous light. 

"Surrey 3" by Derek Gale

  The light in the verandah was mostly quite diffuse, but with a soft directionality in places.  This image of the older girl shows that to perfection.  I used a focal length of 75mm, equivalent to 112mm on a full-frame camera, which gives a very flattering look to portraits and helps throw the background out of focus. 

"Surrey 4" by Derek Gale

 I used the same location and camera settings for this portrait of the younger girl.  Her expression was great; not quite smiling, and not quite not smiling.  Because the image is a bit more complex, it works better in B&W rather than colour.  The choice between B&W and colour is always interesting, and there are definitely some images that work better in colour than B&W, and vice versa. 

"Surrey 2" by Derek Gale

 The youngest child, a boy, was very excited to be photographed, but here I’ve caught him in a quieter mood by the main support pillar of the verandah.  The garden beyond him gives good context, and frames his head nicely.  There was a roof light which lit him from directly above, and acted just like a hair light in the studio.  The crack in the pillar divides up the white area very effectively. 

"Surrey 5" by Derek Gale

 In this final image, I popped the kids down on to the doorstep into the house.  The unlit room behind them gave a good dark background, and the front door had a fabulous texture.  They were happily laughing and looking at each other, and the image really shows their relationship well.  I had to increase the ISO a bit to keep the shutter speed fast enough, as it had clouded over, and I didn’t want to use flash.  This is another image that works much better in B&W rather than colour. 

So, a successful photographic trip to the wilds of Surrey, to work with a really interesting family. 

To book your own portrait shoot ; family, couple or individual, just give me a call on 01793 783859. 

Cheers, 

Derek. 

www.galephotography.co.uk