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Thread: Help with indoor portraits

  1. #1
    Member elGrando's Avatar
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    Help with indoor portraits

    Hi all, pretty new to this and photography. I would like some help with indoor portraits. So many question not sure where to start.
    Any ideas on background? eg blinds, coloured walls, a sheet maybe. Is it best to use a dark or light background depending on what colour the subject is wearing.?
    What is best to use and positioning subject in front of it?
    Which angles are best to shoot from?
    Any tips on cheap lighting or backdrops would be great. Do the bunnings type lights for drying paint work?

    Sorry I know theres a lot to answer and I know it all depends on what you are actually trying to achieve in the shots but any help would do. I have my wife and kids to practice on so they would be the main subjects and maybe the dog if shes lucky.

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day Elgrando

    Firstly - Welcome to the AP Forum ... there are lots of 'togs here and you'll get lots of good advice as well

    What you are asking is a bit like "how long is a piece of string" ~ at this early stage I would suggest that you limit your spending to basics ... incl a good book on 'portraiture how to' - pop into one of the recognised book shops and sqwiz their range

    As to pose & lighting ~ again get a few ideas from a book or magazine - choose a pic and try to copy it - as you try, you'll realise a) that it's not qwik 'n easy, and b) you'll learn more about "how-to"

    As to equipment ~
    1- your loungeroom window is the best place to start .... you can't beat lovely light coming into the house.
    2- I would suggest you make up a reflector from 2 pieces of white cardboard, 45cm x 60cm ($5 from your local newsagent), sticky tape them together to make a 90cm x 60cm reflector. On one side, glue alfoil -> the dull side upwards <- and use this (get your assistant to hold) to bounce reflected light back into the shadow side of the face of your subject. You have a choice of using the white side or the Alfoil side for differing amounts of bounce-back

    Here's a sample of a simple portrait at home...



    Hope this starts you off in the right direction, and keep asking Qs
    Regards, Phil
    Of all the stuff in a busy photographers kitbag, the ability to see photographically is the most important
    google me at Travelling School of Photography
    images.: flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/

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    Thanks Phil thats great advice and a great place to start.

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    Just another quick question for you Ozzie Traveller or anyone else with an opinion. If shooting indoors at night with downlights etc I have had trouble eg if flash is on the skin tone is bright and if I use no flash mode (not sure of actual name) the photos have a nice effect a bit more of an orange tone but still not overly natural. What would help in this situation? maybe changing the ISO and leaving the flash off? Sorry I havent posted any examples I am at work and have none on me at this stage.

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    Go the Rabbitohs mudman's Avatar
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    G'day elgrando.
    some where in your camera there should be white balance settings for different light conditions.
    find these and have a play with them.
    also, if your flash allows, try bouncing the flash light off the ceilingor wall behind the camera. this will difuse the light and fill in shadows. it is a very good light for portraits.
    another way is to place a white tissue in front ofc the built in flash. it will also difuse the light nicely.
    hope this at least gives you some ideas to help you get the desired effect.
    cheers
    cc and enjoy

    Photography is painting with light

    K7, Pentax 18-250mm zoom, Pentax 100mm macro, Sigma 50-500mm
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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day elGrando

    Mudman has given you some great advice above

    Your camera's WB settings will show icons for 1-Bright sun, 2-Cloudy sun, 3-Shady day, 4-Indoors lightbulb, 5-a cigarette shaped icon for Fluoro lights, and 6-a funny symbol [like a box w- triangles above it] meaning Custom Lighting. When outdoors use 1- or 2- or maybe 3-; when you are using indoors lighting, set WB to 4- above. Don't (as yet) play with 6-Custom

    Also, try not to mix different types of lighting ... Sunlight closely equals flash, but is very different from an indoors lightbulb

    Hope this helps a bit - keep the Qs coming...
    Regards, Phil

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    Thanks Ozzie Traveller - I have been thinking about purchasing a reflector, but might try this first.

    2- I would suggest you make up a reflector from 2 pieces of white cardboard, 45cm x 60cm ($5 from your local newsagent), sticky tape them together to make a 90cm x 60cm reflector. On one side, glue alfoil -> the dull side upwards <- and use this (get your assistant to hold) to bounce reflected light back into the shadow side of the face of your subject. You have a choice of using the white side or the Alfoil side for differing amounts of bounce-back
    Musie J

    Nikon D5000, Nikon AF-S DX VR 55-200mm f4-5.6G, Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G VR, Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G


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    My advice for someone getting into and practicing their portraits is this.

    1. Get a cheap fast lens, like a 50 1.8, and a reflector. Thats all the gear youll need.
    2. Do it outdoors in natural light, youll have less colour temp/WB issues. Use the presets, they generally work well. ie. if your model/subject is in shade, use the "Shady" setting. If its cloudy, use "Cloudy" etc.
    3. Keep your backgrounds clean and clutter free, and keep a distance between subject and background. Combining this with about f2.8 you will get nice shallow DOF, and nice bokeh.
    4. Front light is easiest at first. Keep the sun/lightsource behind the camera, but be careful of squinting. A good tip is the "3,2,1 - Open your eyes" trick.
    5. Have fun

    Keeping it really really simple at first is the key



    EDIT: I just realised your OP specified indoor portraits. I wont waiver from my advice though for someone new to portraiture.
    Hi Im Darren

    www.darrengrayphotography.com

    SONY A850 (FF)] + GRIP | SONY A350 (APS-C) + GRIP | SONY NEX-5 +16 2.8 + 18-55 E-MOUNT LENSES | CZ 85 1.4 | 50 1.4 | 28-75 2.8 | 70-200 2.8 | 2 x 42AMs | 24" imac | LR | CS4 | + loads of other junk


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    yep listen to Darren , and kiwi, I've gotten some GREAT advice from those two guys over the past year and a bit. Am about to post up some photos I took of my daughter this morning, all natural lighting, and all inside!
    Happy to take all constructive Critique, please don't rework or edit my photos. Thanks!

    Canon 6D, 2 Canon 50D's gripped, Canon 1000D, Canon 70-200 F2.8 ( non IS),Canon 70-200 2.8, Canon 24-70 2.8, Sigma 85 1.4, Canon 50mm F1.8.. yongnuo speedlights and triggers, and manfrotto tripods.


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    Quote Originally Posted by yummymummy View Post
    all natural lighting, and all inside!
    and elGrando .... if your intent on shooting your pictures indoors .. this is the way to do it at first. I recommend you forget flash for now, it only complicates things. Get your head around using natural light and reflectors.

  11. #11
    Member QueenBeesWax's Avatar
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    Hi elGrando

    I'm just in the process of setting up an indoor portrait studio too.

    I brought some black material from Spotlight. It's OK, but not wide enough, so good for headshots, but if I do a full body I sometimes have to crop out the edges where you can see the rest of the garage. I then saw some mink fleece queen bed covers in K Mart on sale for $20. Works brilliant, can't see any creases, and because it's a bit fluffy, doesn't show shine marks.

    I can't afford another lens, so I'm using a 18-135mm one. I only have continuous lights, and can't afford strobes or anything. It's fine for what I am doing at the moment. I thought about using the Bunnings work lights, and even though they're quite cheap, I decided against forking out money for them, and then maybe realising I'd made a huge mistake. After reading stuff on the internet, I realised I probably needed softboxes. Could have rigged up a softbox, but thought it would look unprofessional, in case I wanted to go further into photography at a later date.

    So I put my subject about a metre in front of my backdrop (I don't seem to get shadows from the mink blanket), and put one light directly to the side of the subject, really close, but the same height as them. Then I put another one further back where I'm gonna shoot from. This faces the subject, but is alot higher. Then I stand next to the furtherest light and shoot.

    I found that because the continuous lights are not as bright as probably strobes would be, I couldn't get my shutter speed high enough to take a photo without using a tripod. I felt restricted using the tripod, so my solution was to handhold, but use the speedlite pointed upwards at the white ceiling. I'm still quite new to having my camera on manual, so this was just my way around it, it may be right or wrong, but it works for me.

    I experimented alot and this is how I came up with taking some photos inside with a decent amount of light, and not having the flash directly in their face.

    Oh, I also brought a reflecter on eBay, 5 in 1 for about $20.

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    ummm, no, dont do any of that, sorry, well, maybe a clean backdrop. But any wall will work OK too to start with

    If you want to play with light, as said the BEST option is natural light at a main, and use a white card or reflector as a fill.

    The next best thing is get a speedlight (youll use it lots anyhow), a light stand, a shoot through umbrella and practice lots with again one light and a reflector. Learn to light with just one light to start with before yo try anything else

    Have a look at strobist
    Darren
    Gear : Nikon Goodness
    Website : http://www.peakactionimages.com
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    Constructive Critique of my images always appreciated

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    check out my latest photos of Abby here. All natural light coming from the window, no reflector used, and no backdrop, just a shallow enough DOF to blur the already dark room completely.

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    More great advise bigdazzler, thanks again.

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    Thanks all for the advice. I think Ill try a bit of everything and see what works.

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