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AlexL55
04-26-2011, 02:05 PM
http://www.cosplay.com/shoot/207421/
First time doing a photoshoot of any sort. Looking for some critique about composition, lighting, and post-processing. How to get the image to "pop" without over-processing it. Also any advice about posing the cosplayer? Especially poses for full-body shots.

Setup:
Speedlight was on a tripod and bounced into a small reflector for some fill. 1/4 CTO filter was used to warm up the flash abit. Lens was zoomed out to 200mm to try and isolate the background. The apertures were wide open (f/5.6 ugh). The levels, saturation, vignetting and skin softening were adjusted with Lightroom and Photoshop.

Equipment:
Nikon D200, Nikon 18-200mm, SB-600 Speedlight

Surfsama
04-26-2011, 03:18 PM
This one’s a bit tough. You obviously know what you’re doing and you did an excellent job projecting a sense of serenity and composure. I think you pushed your zoom lens about as far as you could to achieve a desirable bokeh but it might be time to go with a faster lens to cream-out the backgrounds and give your model a more 3-d effect. Throw a 2 or 4 stop ND filter on a fast prime so you can open-up the aperture on sunny days without blowing the highlights. For poses, I suggest working around the idea that Zashiki-Warashi is a very shy character so, solitary, over the shoulder, sitting playing her flute. Also, I read she cries easily so may want to try a shot with fake (or real if your model can do it) tears.

AlexL55
04-26-2011, 07:36 PM
Thank you Surfsama. I've had the camera for a little less than a year now and have mainly been using it as big, expensive point and shoot. This my first time actually going out of my comfort zone and really trying to use the camera to its full potential.

I have been eyeing the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8. It's about 1/3 the price of the Nikon version and is sharper than the Sigma version. I figure the slow autofocus is OK for portraits, but I am worried that it doesn't have VR/IS.

Thanks, for the advice on the ND filter. I'll pick some up when I get the chance. What about a polarizing filter? That also blocks sunlight, right?

Also, what do you mean by "over the shoulder" pose?

brucer007
04-26-2011, 07:47 PM
I know this location. I shot there recently.

The first image has a beautiful composition and background. More blur to the background would enhance it. This can be done with a faster prime lens or a zoom lens that opens to around 2.8. If you use an 85mm 1.8, the blur will be more, but the background will be wider, and it might be harder to make the leaves fill the frame without sky. The hair looks fogged. It could use some black level added in post. There is a blueish tint to this and all 4 images. Adding some warmth would be a nice effect.

The second image has highlights that are washed out. It looks over exposed. Balancing your fill flash brighter with the direct sunlight would help, but keep the fill soft and diffused for a more natural look. The flash you used looks harsh, casting hard shadows on her from the bridge, onto her costume. The background is too sharp and distacting, making it appear like a tree limb is protruding from her head. The colors of blue and green are very pretty.

The third image has a nice composition, but the head-room is a bit too much. The exposure again, is too bright.

The fourth image looks quite nice. The blue water is very striking in contrast to her magenta costume. The water has a nice amount of blur, due to being farther away from her than the trees were in other shots.

Polarizing filters can be used to help reduce light, but be careful. It can have an unflattering effect on skin, showing more imperfections, and the hair shine can be dulled.

You don't necessarily need to use ND filters. Bringing your shutter speed up should help you shallow your depth-of-field as you can use wider aperture settings. ND filters are more beneficial for video and movies cameras, since quicker shutter speeds will change the motion effect.

Access
04-26-2011, 07:48 PM
Polarizing filter is quite common outdoors, it can have a lot of helpful effects like making the sky a darker shade of blue, vegetation more green, or just cutting out reflections. For modern digital SLRs you need a circular polarizer as to not cause autofocus and other automatic features to fail.

Once you have a circular polarizer that can also act as a weak ND filter alone, and if you spend a little more and get a linear polarizer filter in addition to the circular polarizer, you can put the two together to make a variable ND filter like the type that is common for shooting video (combine the two filters, keeping the circular polarizer closer to the lens). Linear polarizers have dropped a great deal in price with the advent of digital.

"You don't necessarily need to use ND filters. Bringing your shutter speed up should help you shallow your depth-of-field as you can use wider aperture settings."
Sometimes a necessity in direct sunlight, with digital and primes f/1.4, f/1.8, etc. the shutter speed won't go high enough and the ISO won't go low enough.

One thing no one has mentioned is eyes, maybe its just the character(?) as I am not familiar with her.

Surfsama
04-26-2011, 08:43 PM
Also, what do you mean by "over the shoulder" pose?

Have your model do a gentle sweeping gaze over her shoulders as if she's taking one last look before she goes off or if she's sitting, gaze up to see who is coming.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/surfsama/4687556122/sizes/l/in/photostream/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/surfsama/5107454625/sizes/l/in/set-72157625100608173/

AlexL55
04-27-2011, 01:19 AM
Thanks Bruce. Big fan. I saw you at the LA Alliance Cosplay Picnic, but was too shy to introduce myself. I did comment on your 70-200 f4 and how Nikon needs to make one too that is affordable.

Direct flash was used in the 2nd photo since the bounced flash couldn't reach the bridge. I'll take note of the trees in the background next time. Looking at the EXIF data that photo was at 90mm f/5.3. If it was a 85mm f/1.8. 3 stops... hmmm.....

The 4th photo is definitely my favorite, but I don't how to make that one show up as the first image of the gallery.

As for the eyes, the ones with them open didn't turn out too well. I guess because she was turned straight at the camera for those.

Thanks for the examples Surfsama.

Surfsama
04-27-2011, 03:08 AM
The hair looks fogged. It could use some black level added in post.

Looking at your first photo again, I noticed the lens flare. I'll assume you were using the hood so just be aware of your angles and the sun's position as it could ruin an otherwise beautiful shot.

brucer007
04-27-2011, 03:38 AM
Too shy to introduce yourself? Hehe...I did not know I was intimidating..I thought I am very approachable..hmmmm. I would have been very flattered that you knew me through my photos....So now I am.

If you want your 4th image to show up as the Thumbnail on the All Members Photoshoots page, just add this photo as if you were adding another photo to that gallery. Then delete it immediately. It will then appear as your main thumbnail photo.

AlexL55
04-27-2011, 12:20 PM
Thanks for the tip, Bruce. I've changed the thumbnail. I'm make sure to properly introduce myself next time.

I did use the len hood, Surfsama. But it's kinda useless at longer focal length, since it need be small enough to not block anything at 18mm. Another question about the lens hood is that, I've picked up a 77mm CPL plus a 72mm->77mm adapter, so that I can reuse the filter when I upgrade (Per the advice from various internet source). But that means that I can't use the lens hood with the filter + adapter. Should I just stick with the correct size so that I can use the lens hood?

Access
04-27-2011, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the tip, Bruce. I've changed the thumbnail. I'm make sure to properly introduce myself next time.

I did use the len hood, Surfsama. But it's kinda useless at longer focal length, since it need be small enough to not block anything at 18mm. Another question about the lens hood is that, I've picked up a 77mm CPL plus a 72mm->77mm adapter, so that I can reuse the filter when I upgrade (Per the advice from various internet source). But that means that I can't use the lens hood with the filter + adapter. Should I just stick with the correct size so that I can use the lens hood?
If you are using the hood and still notice flare from the sun, try blocking it with your hand or something like that.

If you cannot fit the provided lens hood on with your combination of adapter and filter, maybe try one of those lens hods that screws on like a filter does. Just try searching amazon for "77mm lens hood" for examples.

Rock nam Lee
04-27-2011, 10:05 PM
Nice images! Here are some of my opinions on the photos going from left to right.

I would've taken a step or two back just to give some more head room, I feel it better to either make a solid crop or leave a minimal amount of room for the top of the head. Staying on the framing, I would've given her some more backroom as well just to give her a nicer-looking composure, sort of cutting off on the arm there too. Up the contrast a tad bit more to give the hair a stronger feel. There is a flare there, but its nothing big, especially since you have a terrific bokeh background!

Second photo, I'm not a fan of the extra headroom, doesn't add enough to make-up for the tilted composition. The exposure is nice, a good angle from the sun. It looks like your flash is coming from the left side, (Thinking on this, I don't think D200 has commander mode?) had the option been there could've gone commander mode and held the flash higher, the shadows from the bars really bug me. Maybe even no flash could have worked...?

Third shot is nice, great lighting, the highlights are a little high, flute is nicely visible, backroom is nice, though there's slightly too much headroom! Tilt down a bit and you'd have a great rule of third photo!

The fourth photo is probably my favorite. Unfortunately there's not much bokeh (but a nice solid water background!) to show off as there was in the first one, but the composition, strong colors, nice contrast and good-angle lighting really fit well here. The only thing I would have changed is maybe give some more room at the bottom for the hands to be more visible, since they are an important part of playing the flute!

Look forward to seeing more.

AlexL55
04-28-2011, 02:12 PM
Thanks for all the pointers, Rock nam Lee. Composition is my weakest point. I'm an engineer by trade, so I picked up all the technical aspects really fast, but my creative side still needs alot of work.

The D200 does have commander mode and it was used in all of the photos. I mounted the flash on a normal tripod, so maybe a tall light stand that could reached above the bridge would have been better.