Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Class #10

Better Portraits

What Makes a Good Portrait?
- It should be expressive of the subject's personality.
- Create a narrative around the subject in the moment
- Subject should be composed within an environment that further enhances the story of the person.
- The portrait should be made with a sense of mood.

The Photographic Basics of Good Portraiture
- Light is the key to shape and texture.
The direction of the light sets shadows and creates the illusion of shape on the face.  The actual shape of your subject's face will determine the best direction of light for them.  A round face may benefit from sidelight, throwing more of the face into shadow, while a thin-faced person may look best with frontal light.  To bring out high cheekbones the light should be high to cast the shadows down.  But too high and your subjects eyes might end up in shadow.
High or low contrast can set the picture's mood.  Lower contrast tends to be a softer and gentler feeling light while high contrast light with its dark shadows, can yield more dramatic and mysterious pictures.
The balance between the specular and diffuse qualities of light is vital in portraiture.  We need a little specularity to create dimension and the sitter's face but too much can ruin a portrait by revealing too much texture.

Good composition is important to good portraiture.  We know that the sitter in a portrait is the main subject and all of our composition tools should be used to keep the viewer's eyes there.  Rule of thirds, strong lines, frame within a frame and pattern all still apply to making portraits.

Remember that lens focal length can expand or compress our scene.  Depth of field - how much or how little of the area in front of and behind the subject rendered sharp can be the difference between an effrective portrait and total visual chaos.

The Point of View that a portrait was made from has a huge effect on the stature of the sitter.  Low angles can aggrandize the subject while a camera position above, looking down can diminish them.

Environmental Portraits
- Good starting question - How does the environment "inform" the subject?

Where is the best light to make a portrait?
Any window is going to give a variety of light qualities......you just need to practice to find a great portrait.  The easiest window to use is a north-facing window.  They never get direct sunlight and therefore remain consistent throughout the day. 

Sadly I did not complete this weeks assignment....

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