Christmas Portraits

Maybe I should have called this post “Christmas Portraits – Take II” as it is indeed my second attempt. My first one being quite a learning “experience”.

Since then, I got myself a second flash in order to compensate for the undesired (and uncontrolled) Rembrandt effect of my first pics.

The local store had a good deal on the Sigma EF-530 DG. It is rated at a somewhat higher GN output than my Nikon SB-900. However, many user rant about its not so good user interface and its very plasticky build. I still figured that as a second unit, it could not be that bad.

All in all it is just OK. Would not recommend it as your first unit.

So, off I went to my family’s Christmas party with my portable studio to take some portraits of cousins, little cousins and newfound friends (as there is always tons of people there).

Thank you to my spouse for suggesting that it would be a good opportunity to practice as all guests would be dressed to the nines!

As I did not have a white background (and I did forget to include this in my Christmas list), I had asked my hostess to lend me a white bed sheet. It was OK but not perfect as you can see on most shots the wrinkles of the sheet.

I did find however a nice spot in the basement to set-up my two umbrellas. And I did take some pretty good shots (considering that this was my second go at it of course).

Portraits, or so my young experience tells me, is all in the subject’s attitude. Sounds obvious, you may say. OK.

For example, I had this “new family”.

f/5,6, 1/100, ISO 400, 75mm

He and she both have kids from previous unions. But I could tell that this “studio session” was their first. The pics show their enthusiasm and pride at being in front of the camera. Really, all I had to do same was frame and click. Fun to do. Thanks guys.

Speaking of “new”, there is also that young couple who is so dearly in love.

f6.3, 1/30, ISO 400, 142mm

They just want to burst through the lens. So fun to shoot also.

Speaking of fun, these two sisters, one wacky, the other more serious, have shown me that they trust me and that they were willing to reveal themselves to the lens.

f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 400, 105mm

The last shot I want to show hear is another subject who landed himself easily to being posed in from the of the camera.

f/5.6, 1/100, ISO 400, 120mm

This young guy is such a goof that I had to concentrate in order not to laugh! I decided that this portrait would lend itself better if I cropped it off center. Sort of better fit for an off center person!

Speaking of cropping. All these pics received a number of post processing treatment.

For one, most received a boost in exposure. Thanks for shooting RAW, I did not loose quality. It is something that I need to check next time around however as I really did think that my exposure was correct…

One possibility about my under exposure is that either my flash were partially blocked (I was working in a tight corner of the basement) or that I had calibrated my umbrellas for adult heights while most pics ended up being for smaller people.

I am learning by mistakes as I said previously.

I am also thankful to Aperture for making this post processing easier on me. A quick tool that I used was to “copy and paste” settings. I am not sure how it is labeled in the English version, but Aperture users will “get” what I mean. I hope 🙂

I got to read more of this great e-book by Ed Verosky, “Flash Photography, how to get amazing light in any situation“.

All in all, I am happy about this shoot. Still lots to learn.

Next shoot: New Year’s Eve. Keep posted 🙂

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4 Responses to Christmas Portraits

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