In this weeks portrait tips and techniques post, I am comparing two images taken at the same location. The photo of the boy and girl above was taken at one of my first sessions at this location, an Historical Village nearby. I love the emotional contact between brother and sister, but there was something not quite right.

The cropping was good, the boy’s head is on the top third intersecting line. I thought the camera was low enough to be looking up at them, around waist height.

After a looking at it for a while, I decided I didn’t like the way the tracks finished. They were also nearly 90 degrees to the bottom of the image, which seemed too structured. Sometimes when you are trying to capture the emotion, you can easily miss the obvious and this why you should always edit and critique  your own work. Always ask yourself “how can I improve this image”.

In the photo below, I improved the perspective by lowering the camera to about 300mm above the ground and moved my position slightly to my left. By doing this I now have the tracks dipping over into the background, so they appear continuous. Also by moving to my left and turning the camera back to my right allows the boys to be in the third vertical zone. This opens the tracks up in the foreground and creates a narrowing perspective to the background.

These are small adjustments, but they create a more dramatic perspective. A couple of additional techniques I use when working with young children is to give them something to do, which creates interaction and helps stop them from wandering off. My photo tip is to watch and listen and photograph the reaction between them. It can be laughter, eye contact, a smile or the way they look at each other. They are all different and our job is capture those priceless little moments.

TIPS……. when photographing railway tracks, roads, lanes, dirt roads etc. try lowering your camera’s point of view for a more dramatic look. Try laying on the ground, this will really blow the foreground out of focus, especially if you are using a telephoto lens (eg. 200mm) This applies to any photograph not just portraits. Experiment by photographing a scene or people, one shot standing up, next kneeling, next laying on the ground. Do one set with a long lens then another with a wide lens and compare the perspectives.

Tips……. when photographing portraits using a low perspective try setting your lens aperture wide open or one stop up. (if it’s a F2.8 lens set it at f2.8 or F4)  This will give you a shallow depth of field. The combination of a low camera angle a  shallow depth of field will be very dramatic.

TECHNICAL  |    Canon 5D 70-200mm F2.8L IS                    (top image)
F4@1/60   ISO 250   lens @160mm
B&W conversion: Nik Silver Efex Pro

Canon 5D 70-200mm F2.8L IS                     (bottom image)
F3.5@1/125   ISO 400  lens @ 200mm
B&W conversion: Nik Silver Efex Pro

Until next week, happy shooting

portrait tips and techniques

24 Responses to “PERSPECTIVE”

  1. Kevin Evans Says:

    Hey Mate… Looking GOOD matie… Best of luck with everything… I’m sure it will work well for you.

    Cheers… Kevin

  2. Joel Says:

    Website looks good well done!

  3. Meegan McSpedden Says:

    Thanks Wayne, valuable info and love your work!

  4. jan hannasky Says:

    Wayne, this is an awesome image, I have the same equipment and software that was used. The lightness on the childrens faces, did you catch this light in camera, or was it lighted in niks software, I have been unable to achieve this effect, and would love to know how! thanks jan

  5. Jan Ramsay Says:

    Hi Wayne,
    Looking forward to another fun week at Seaworld. I loved stumbling across your portrait tips and techniques. How long have you been doing this? And how often do you post something? I need to do some catching up. I think this is amazing and great to read, view and can’t wait for the next one. Will you have your book at AE? Jan

  6. wayne Says:

    Hi Jan Hannasky,
    the faces are as normal settings (the diffused highlight on the face is set for 210 on info pallete. The background is darkened and the fact the kids are wearing dark clothes gives an illusion of spot lighting on their faces. I have been doing it this way long before digital. Select the right uncluttered dark background, dark clothes and the rest is easy for this particular low key portrait.
    regards…. Wayne

  7. wayne Says:

    Hi Jan Ramsay,
    thanks for the comments, the plan is to continue these posts as a weekly activity. Some will be more tech, others just tips, but all valuable learning material, I hope. The book will be finished late this year. See you at the August Exposure convention.

  8. Gavin Keats Says:

    Wayne, excellent lessons, looking forward to reading your book. Any recommendation from a photog like Kevin Evans is good enough for me ! Well done, and keep them coming.



  9. Anca Says:

    Love what you are writing. Love the way you see things:) Can’t wait for other lessons:)

  10. wayne Says:

    Hi Glen,
    only as a pdf ebook at this time.

  11. Thomas Says:

    Well, I prefer the first photo, because the background is not as distractive. One clearly focuses on the children. The tracks didn’t bother me at all, especially since they are part of the background. The second picture’s background is also very busy right where the children are, partially due to the not so great bokeh.

    Just ordered your book. Very nice work indeed! Thanks for sharing your work.


  12. Mus Says:

    Hi Wayne,

    What a great website. So generous of you with all the tips and techniques. Congratulations and Thank you. Brilliant!

  13. Rob Heyman Says:

    If only everyone would take heed of your lessons there would be a quantum leap in the quality of portrait photography. It is a great pity that most of the new photographers think that education is for other people.
    Congratulations on a great site

  14. wayne Says:

    Thanks Rob, well said. None of us should ever stop learning, it’s part of our evolvement in becoming better artists.

  15. Sue Black Says:

    Hi Wayne,
    I’m a fan of yours 🙂
    As I am continually striving to improve my photography I just bought your ebook.
    Thanks so much.

  16. wayne Says:

    Hi Sue,
    thanks for your comment. I hope the ebook has been a great source of help to you.
    Learning photography is a lifetime journey, you never stop learning. But I can’t think of a more enjoyable profession.
    Good luck on your journey.

  17. Suzanne McCorkell Says:

    Hi Wayne, thank you for sharing your information with us. It is so great to have wonderful mentors, with amazing work. Thanks again. Suzanne

  18. wayne Says:

    Hi Suzanne,
    Thank you for your support.
    I hope the posts benefit you in your photographic journey.

  19. charles Brown Says:

    Hi Wayne, Long time no talk. I’d like your imput on something if you can. Remember I told you I had an old Mac G5, unable to load the Nik soft ware ect. well I’m getting ready to rectify that mabye. I was considering buying a used Imac but I got scared at the last moment. stopped by the mac store and found I could get a new Imac at almost the same price. I wondered how you felt about the Imac’s, I’m talking lots of RAM and big Hard drive Its only a 21 in screen but I think I can make do with that. Talk to me as soon as you can. this money is burning a hole in my pocket (smile).
    Thanks Charles.

  20. wayne Says:

    Hi Charles,
    Sorry for the slow response. The iMac should be fine, I see quite a few tutors on using them. Like all computer screens make sure it is profiled correctly to suit your printing.
    iMacs are so cheap to buy now.
    Good luck and enjoy your new toy.

  21. charles brown Says:

    Hi Friend,

    Long time, been busy doing not much. I have however got the new Imac and some Nik software, I’m having fun(smile).

    You told me that you had a couple of nik products, well if Viveza 2 is not one of them make life a lot easier and give it a go. Silver efex pro is wonderful but Viveza makes it better.

    The Best, Charles.

  22. wayne Says:

    Hi Charles,
    thanks for the message.I haven’t got Viveza yet, I opted for colour efex pro.
    I don’t do alot of colour work, so silver efex pro is my go to software more often than not.
    I have only heard good things about Viveza.
    Cheers for now

  23. Steve Chastain Says:

    Thanks for sharing your magic Wayne…as always your comments send my brain off in so many different directions. Thanks for being a constant source of inspiration.

  24. wayne Says:

    Thanks Steve, always appreciate your time to comment. Cheers

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