Environmental Portrait by Bryan
Last night was our final meeting for our Portrait Photography class. We had taken two classes this semester, both ran from 5pm -10pm, with the portrait class meeting on Tuesday’s and our other class meeting on Thursday. Bryan and I both work full time as well as shoot triathlons, so taking these classes really exhausted us. However, I think we learned a lot from both of these classes. I now would like to take a moment to do an overview of our portrait class. This class was taught by Michael Lanoue who we had before in our beginning photo class. He gave us a total of four shooting assignments; environmental portrait, natural light portrait, synchro sun and glamour portrait with a portfolio of work due at the end of the semester.
The environmental portrait is a shot taken of a subject in their environment. Lanoue likes this assignment the most so I think he had high expectations. I too think environmental portraits are better as they allow the subject to be more natural. You normally wouldn’t pose your subjects in these types of photos but sometimes it helps if you do. Here is the photo that Bryan took of his coworker in their office. It is a very nice shot, I think the cubicles and the fluorescent lighting really make this effective.
Natural Light Portrait by Jamie
The natural light portrait is a great way to learn how to use available light. For this assignment we were asked to position the subject either outside under open shade or inside in a place where the light is shining through a window and falling onto the subject. Usually in these shots the light is on one side of the subject therefore you have to use a fill card to bounce light back into the shadow areas. It is a very nice effect. Here is a natural light shot taken in open shade.
Synchro Sun by Bryan
In the synchro sun assignment you take advantage of the sunlight and your flash to completely illuminate the subject. Usually when the sun is lighting up the background and you take a photo of a subject with their back to the sun they become a silhouette. To avoid this you fill the dark areas with your flash. There is a formula to how much flash you should use. Basically the guide number of your flash should equal your aperture times the distance from your subject. When this is done correctly you get a halo effect around your subject. In the example I’ve shown, the halo is not very strong as the light behind me isn’t very bright. The clouds were constantly moving that day so one minute I was in full sun and the next it was all open shade. I still think the shot was effective.
Glamour by Jamie
In the glamour assignment we were told to romanticize our subject. We used our friend Sarah’s makeshift studio that she set up in her sun room at her house. I decided to photograph my friend Claudia and Bryan photographed me. We had a background set up with two umbrellas. Unfortunately our flash did not sync with Sarah’s slaves and her flash didn’t fit our camera so we had to use Sarah’s Sony Alpha 100 to do the shoot. We were told to do two different kinds of shots, a head and shoulders shot and a full body shot. We didn’t have any real studio lighting available to us so we had to improvise with the slaves and umbrellas. For the head and shoulders shots we positioned an umbrella in front of the subject and one behind the subject in place of a hair light. However, because we didn’t have a background light like Lanoue suggested Claudia’s hair ended up fading into the background as you can see in my example. The same happened in Bryan’s shots of me but luckily I think he took some shots where it really didn’t seem to matter. I really like this shot he took of me in the cowboy hat, it’s just close enough where I don’t think a background light would have really added much to the photo. During the shoot we brought Sarah’s Great Dane Shanti into the shoot with Claudia, here is an outtake from that. Actually the shots I took of the two of them were outtakes since it was really hard for me to get a great shot of both of them. We used two different kinds of lenses; a telephoto for the head and shoulder shots and a wider angle lens for the full body shots. We also used our 5 in 1 reflector to fill in the shadows under the chins of the subjects.
Glamour by Bryan
We also had quite a few guest speakers. Of course I told you about the time we visited Galvan Studios
but we also had Mario from Vero Image
come in and also Jasmine Star
. Mario normally shoots weddings but he also has clients in the fashion industry and works with a cycling team. Jasmine Star was probably my favorite speaker. She is very enthusiastic about her work and has a great personality. She actually blogged
about her visit with our class. Jasmine is mostly a wedding photographer but also does anytime shoots. Her particular style is to use a very wide open aperture to get a shallow depth of field. Looking at her website you can tell she is a master at this technique. She taught us some very valuable lessons about building a business in photography.
Now I will be the first one to say that portrait photography is not something I am interested in but this class was a great way to learn new techniques. I think Bryan is more of a natural portrait photographer than I am and it shows in his work. Still even though I don’t believe opening a portrait studio is in our future I can use the knowledge I gained in everything else that I choose to photograph.
Claudia & Shanti