This week is portrait week. This week we will be working on Portrait Photography for our Picture Style Week. Portrait photography is all about capturing the essence of someone. If you know the person, it makes it a lot easier. But what do you do if you don’t know the person? If you don’t have any willing subjects this week, take portraits of yourself.
Pfft. Not doing any self portraits no siree! One week a month is quite enough of that malarkey thank you. Taking portraits of people I don’t know isn’t really an option so this is going to be a Phil and Winnie week.
Day 122 ~ Hidden. ~ if you do not know your subject well or at all, it is important to interact with them during the session to bring their personality to the forefront. You can ask questions and get them talking about themselves, this normally opens them up and relaxes them, allowing you to snap a photo that captures their personality. For my example, I have placed my granddaughter behind the Goldenrod instead of in front of it. The light is reflecting off of the gold and onto her. You don’t have to completely “hide” your subject but often placing something in front of them creates a great depth in the photo.
My first thought was to pin a note up on the door of my pantry saying ‘I’m in here’ and take a picture of it, as that’s where I’d hide if we had burglars break in, but Phil said that wasn’t in the spirit of things, so I asked Winnie to be my model and sit behind some flowers. She put her ‘Queen of the Castle’ face on.
Day 123 ~ Generous. ~Technically this is not a portrait, which is a posed photo of a person most often from the shoulders up. I don’t take true portraits because I don’t enjoy the process and most of the time I don’t appreciate the product even when the result is a “good portrait.” I much prefer candid shots. In the case of today’s sub-prompt of generous, I’m not even sure how one would go about capturing that idea in a traditional portrait. So instead, I give you a photo of my husband being generous with dog treats while we were dog sitting for our best friends’ pups. As you look through your lens today, capture a “portrait” of someone being generous; or, focus on your idea of what generous looks like.
So here we go, there’s the prompt, that this lady has put up, and then completely ignored it herself because she doesn’t like it. That made me laugh though, which is always good. I asked Phil to be my
victim model for this one, so here he is having a ‘generous’ glass of whisky.
Day 124 ~ Round. ~ Let us not forget Pet Portraits, you knew that was coming didn’t you! As I have no available victims, I mean volunteers, to get in front of the camera, I can always call on Jasper and his best friend, Kaya, to sit for me for a treat. Using the old pipes that are lying around in the forest, makes for good props. I also like taking my photos in the forest because I love using dappled light. Find a prop that is round and use it in taking your photo today.
Winnie was up for this one, being a pet an’all, and she loves the cat tunnel I got for her. It took a fair few dreamies (treats that cats are addicted to) to get her in position and sitting still, but got there in the end.
Day 125 ~ Action. ~ Take action! It is portrait week! Today take a portrait of someone ‘in action’ or doing an activity they love! If you cannot find a willing subject or model, use yourself! I love almost all outdoor activities. I chose to show myself in hiking mode.If you so choose, you can also jazz it up a bit by using Rembrandt Lighting for added drama.
That’s a lot of exclamation marks. I read it in a Sergeant Major’s voice in my head. This from the slightly bonkers lady who posted a picture of herself rock climbing in a cocktail dress. She had leggings and climbing boots on though so there’s that. I chose not to fanny on with Rembrandt lighting, and asked Phil to play his guitar for me. I used a slowish shutter speed to show the movement of his hands, but his head was a bit noddy so it’s slightly out of focus.
Day 126 ~ Illuminate. ~ As we work our way through Portrait week lets give Low-Key Photography a try. Low-Key is a way of manipulating the light to illuminate a particular part of a subject. The use of light and darkness creates a dramatic portrait with little equipment. All you need is a single light source and the shadows will help do the rest. The mood and tone will depend on the lights intensity. Here’s how: Position your light source (natural or artificial) so that it falls on part of your subject. Light the part of your subject closest to the camera so that the shadows will fall towards the back of your image. Use a low ISO (less than 400) and a low aperture (f/4 or lower). You can also process in B&W to increase the dramatic effect.
Yep, off to my
shed studio, where I arranged the black out curtains ( a black double bed size cotton sheet and a fancy dress witches cape) and had Phil sit so the light from one window illuminated him. I also did the B&W as suggested. I really like how this turned out.
Day 127 ~ Upbeat. Today, while capturing your “upbeat” photo, play around with rim lighting! This was MUCH easier than I had thought it would be. We did this in our dark basement where I hung a black sheet behind my subject and propped up a flashlight. Then I put my little girl in front of the flashlight and voila, I captured my upbeat girl with rim lighting! I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy this technique can be and I can’t wait to see how creative you all get with this idea today too! My only frustration with my photo is that I didn’t get as much of a profile of her face as I had imagined but, maybe next time, I’ll play around with a couple (or three) flashlights to help with that lovely rim lighting behind her. Portrait lighting can take a bit of practice so be patient, have fun, and enjoy the process!
To be honest the picture she used wasn’t a great example, and proved that the technique isn’t as easy as she would have us believe. I knew I wanted Winnie for this, and it was just a matter of waiting for her to sit in her favourite spot in the conservatory, which she did but then proceeded to give herself an all over lick-bath which took forever 🙄. I kept my fingers crossed for some sunshine to happen in between the showers, which it did. Upbeat? well Winnie is the most upbeat cat I’ve ever known, always up for tickles playing ball and chasing stuff, she’s such a fun cat to know.
Day 128 ~ Background. Today, see if you can take your portrait using natural light. Window light, doorway light, shade and direct sunlight are just some of the options. How does placement of your subject effect the light falling on them? What modifiers, if any (flash, diffuser, white board) could you use to eliminate or minimize these shadows if you needed to? Also be aware of the background of your photo. What do you want it to say about your subject?
I knew we’d be back in the conservatory for this one, and a final portrait of Phil. I don’t need any diffusers or flash or white boards as the conservatory works like a giant soft- box, and has some great soft light in there on dull days. I had him sat in front of the window and used that as the background which, as you can see shows the interminable rain we’ve been having the past few days.
And that’s the end of portrait week! I really enjoyed this week and love all the pictures I took. BIG HUGE thanks to Phil and Winnie.
I also read one of the 365 Picture Today website’s blog articles on responding to prompts. I liked this bit..
The only real “rule” that comes with this daily photo project is to make it your own. Your photos should reflect your day, your year, your life, YOU. That means that if the prompt doesn’t work for your day, don’t follow it. It’s as simple as that. There will be days when things happen that you need to document for which no prompt will ever be appropriate. Take that photo. Call it your picture of the day. Don’t worry about what the prompt says.
See I got all hung up at the start with doing it as prescribed, and I still mostly am trying to do that, but I might go easier on myself (and the ladies) now I’m in the swing of it.
When we undertake a project that asks us to engage in a daily discipline, we will have good days and bad days, creative days and not-so-creative days, beautiful days and dark days, inspired days and boring days, challenging days and easy days. That’s the rhythm of life. Each time we take a photo, no matter our thinking at the time we press that shutter button, something positive can be gained. If nothing else, we have practiced our skills. We have perhaps learned patience. And, every now and then we can revel in the realization that we are seeing progress in our technical skills as a photographer and our creative skills as an artist.
🥂 to that! Stay tooned for next week, adventures in Orange!