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Thread: Embarking on the journey to taking portraits

  1. #1

    Embarking on the journey to taking portraits

    Ok, so i've decided to bite the bullet, brush away all my childish fear and start to explore the world of portrait photography.
    So the questions are how should i start? What gear do i need? Can i already start with the lenses that i have? -looks at my 85mm f1.8 Nikkor- I am waiting on my Carl Zeiss 50mm f2.8 so should i start with that instead?
    Any tips?

    Nikon D700 in all it's glory!

  2. #2
    I've not managed to get any portrait shots yet, but my understanding is that your best lengths are around 80mm to 100mm depending on how much space you have to work in. Since you are shooting with a DX camera, the 50 might be better.

    Again I've not done portraits before so take that with a grain of salt. I've read that some where on here, but can't remember the reasoning behind it.

  3. #3
    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    Depends whether you want to really bite the bullet and do it in a big way, or just for fun.
    It all depends on the amount of room you have to set up a studio, or whether you want to do outside stuff.
    Strobes, backgrounds and other accessories can be found on fleabay at a reasonable price, if you want to do it fun.
    For outside I'd suggest 3 speed lights with remote triggers, or even a LED setup if you are serious.
    The lenses you have should be fine to start out with.

    There are better people on here for advice than me, and hopefully they will be able to send you in the right direction.
    Geoff
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  4. #4
    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Use the lenses that you have ( and the 50mm you are going to have ) as they will all give differing results for portraits. Experiment with different focal lengths for head and shoulders style shots through to full length body shots.
    I don't believe that there is a "correct" lens for a particular style and after a bit of experimentation you will soon see which suits the way that you want to portray people.
    Andrew
    Nikon, Fuji, Nikkor, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and too many other bits and pieces to list.



  5. #5
    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    I found the 60mm f/2 macro on my Nikon D90 almost ideal. I also have a 50mm f/1.8 but preferred the extra lenght and better bokeh of the Tamron over the old AF-D Nikkor (not that it is particularly bad). I also used a 18-105 zoom a lot. One thing I found, under studio lights, I was frequently shooting at f/11 and ISO100 so speed is generally not a great advantage unless you have a specific purpose in mind.

    P.S. I note you have the Nissin i622. I have the Nissin i622 Mk II for my D90 and it was really odd when using it to trigger studio flash having to set it on SF mode (optical sensor, film camera) to get synchronisation of the studio flash. On the other hand, my Olympus and Nissin i466 required the more logical M (manual) setting to trigger studio flash and would not fire at all on SF mode on camera. Anyway, as you have sync terminals on your cameras, it generally won't be an issue.

    Have fun with portraits. I have.
    Cheers

    PeterB666


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  6. #6
    Hi guys thanks for the replies!
    I am thinking to start with doing portraits of baskers before progressing to studio work (although i nearly had the opportunity to do studio work but they decided to go with somebody who could do make up as well as photography )... Do i need an external flash to do this? Just thinking i don't really wanna blind the baskers with my flash! lol...

  7. #7
    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    "Baskers" or "Buskers" I'm not sure what baskers are.???

  8. #8
    BUSKERS!
    sorry... spelling mistake... kekekeke

  9. #9
    Hey,

    If you have a full frame camera then the 50mm and 85mm will be ideal, if you are using a crop sensor then I think the 85mm will be a bit tight, I even find my 50mm a bit tight on my 1.6x crop camera in certain situations...the 24-50mm range is ideal for a crop sensor.

    Anyways this is JMO...
    Cheers
    Emma

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  10. #10
    Ausphotography Addict geoffsta's Avatar
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    As most "busker" photography is more on the candid lines, I'd be seriously think about a 18-200 VR or similar.
    Unless they are thinking on the lines of CD covers. To make them portraiture you would need to pull them aside and get them to pose for you.
    Certainly a toughie to try and help you out. Can you describe exactly what you want to achieve.
    Most important, make yourself some business cards to hand out to them. They may want to make CD covers.
    Last edited by geoffsta; 24-06-2011 at 2:26pm.

  11. #11
    I'm hoping as i progress with this genre, i will be able to do studio portraiture... but for now, i would like to be able to take good candid portraiture. Although i might have some minute opportunities where the busker is actually willing to pose for me - hopefully if i put some coins into their hat. But otherwise my goal is to actually be able to start. Because my fear is actually approaching people to ask them if i could take their picture - i just fear of getting up close to the busker/person... so to take that first step would be a great thing for me. Does this make sense?

  12. #12
    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallfooties View Post
    Does this make sense?
    Yes, it makes perfect sense.

    I am the total opposite and will approach and ask anyone so I an in a round about way I can appreciate your reluctance to do it.

    OK, start with a longish lens for candid shots. Your 85mm on a DX body is going to keep you probably around at least 3-4 metres away from people for full length body shots in a candid fashion.
    Start with that or your 105mm and get used to the idea. When the portrait bug bites you totally, fit a shorter length lens and get closer, ease into it and overcome your fears slowly.

  13. #13
    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smallfooties View Post
    I'm hoping as i progress with this genre, i will be able to do studio portraiture... but for now, i would like to be able to take good candid portraiture. Although i might have some minute opportunities where the busker is actually willing to pose for me - hopefully if i put some coins into their hat. But otherwise my goal is to actually be able to start. Because my fear is actually approaching people to ask them if i could take their picture - i just fear of getting up close to the busker/person... so to take that first step would be a great thing for me. Does this make sense?
    Most buskers don't mind their photo taken, donate first then ask. Yeah, I know, that is the more expensive approach.

    Suggestion - watch the act for a little while before donating. There are some crap buskers out there.

    I was always good at candids but I had an absence of photography with intent for more than 20 years so I had to build up my confidence again. Do what is comfortable with you. In around years I have done some pretty good candids (and a lot of crap ones), progressed to posed shots and studio lighting (still learning), and have asked people I don't really know to pose for me (sometimes with positive results). You will do fine.

  14. #14
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    I'd suggest starting with people you know, outdoors or indoors using to start with just natural light and a reflector, try lighting effects and posing with just a very simple setup

    Candids is not training for studio work in my opinion, it's a completely different genre
    Darren
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  15. #15
    Point taken kiwi...
    I will have a think about who i know will let me take a picture of them.
    A lot of the people i know don't like their picture taken... but i guess that's where i need to put them at ease and make it fun for them so they don't even think about being squeamish infront of the camera.

  16. #16
    Drifter, Racer and Picture Taker Bennymiata's Avatar
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    Although i am no great portrait taker, I have found that taking candid photos of people often bring out better expressions that people who pose.
    It's often better to take a photo of someone when they don't realise a photo is being taken, so sometimes, stealth can be your friend.

    Especially with children.
    Get them to do what they do naturally and look for the photo opportunities.
    You'll get bigger smiles and laughter in their eyes if you make it fun for them.

    An old friend of my father's was a fantastic childrens photographer and he made a good living out of doing kids' portraits.
    He would tell them dirty jokes in Hungarian, and as the language sounded funny to the kids, they would laugh and carry on.
    He was also a funny looking little guy with very long hair and had a great rappore with the kids he photographed.

    The more you can make the person happy and full of laughter, the easier it will be to get that killer shot.
    Most people love having their photo taken, especially if the photographer looks like he knows what he's doing, so keep this in mind too.
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