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mmeyer

Gray beard

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I have been bugging a friend of mine to play model with his gray beard and today it finally worked out. Please feel free to tell me what you think.

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Mike, nice work.

The first image delivers the right mix of illumination (detail) and shadow (mystery) to suit my eye and personality. A slight upcurve in the edges of the lips and a crinkle of crow's feet off the eye would have removed the somewhat sullen feel of a naturally stern expression and delivered a bit of hope and intelligent optimism to the mood. The white shirt also distracts my eye a bit, where a charcoal or black (well any medium to dark color, since this is in B&W) would have receded and left the eye centered on your subject.

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First is by far the best image for me. I like the separation of the portrait to the background. I wonder if a little rim lighting would make this even stronger.

Second is extremely dark and the face is lost. More contrast, a stronger side light I think would help here.

Again on the third some rim lighting or background separation would make this stronger.

With out some form of separation to the background you tend to suffer from the floating head syndrome. Lighting your background or rim lighting helps give you an anchor to an edge. I think some harsh lighting to the side might work to make these pop a bit more.

Here is one I shot a month or so ago with one strong light camera left and a bit of reflector camera right. I could have used a rim light but didn't have a boom at the time to get the light over the water, but there is still some separation from the background. The uneven lighting on the strong side was caused by shooting through a diving board. I would now light that shot with a beauty dish over head, and a Bee left and flash right.

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Thanks guys for the feedback. I used a AB400 with a homemade snoot and feathered light light so just the edge of the beam touched his face. When I told him about the shot that I wanted, I said that I wanted him to be just on the edge of darkness and light, just peeking out of the darkness. I wanted the drama that the darkness provided and the texture of his beard. I told him to look "bad" smile These are not meant to be so much of a portrait of him but more so a portrait of drama. I had a bunch where the head was floating completely, which I didn't like as much, but the third, where you can just see his shirt, is ok for me. I tried it so that more of his shirt was visible and it just wasn't the look I was going for.

So, as the lighting suggestions may not work for what I was going for on this particular shot, as always, I did learn more for the next time when I want to make a more traditional portrait.

Steve, I love your little details about the lips and the crows feet. That would have certainly changed the look wouldn't it. I didn't do any like that this time but I should have done both just for comparison. Next time. Sometimes I know the look I want and get it but I don't explore more options or looks as long as I'm shooting. I'm learning though.

Again, thanks to you both for your detailed comments! It is appreciated.

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Steve, I love your little details about the lips and the crows feet. That would have certainly changed the look wouldn't it. I didn't do any like that this time but I should have done both just for comparison. Next time. Sometimes I know the look I want and get it but I don't explore more options or looks as long as I'm shooting. I'm learning though.

We're all learning, buddy. smilesmile

One thing I've learned is that there are always a few more looks and poses and light angles to try. Unless you know your client quite well personally (even if you have rapport with your client and insight into people, which is a prerequisite for good portrait photographers), you never quite know which they will like best.

Taking the time to provide as many looks as possible increases the chances of a satisfied client/subject, and allows the subject's personality to act in concert with your own creativity, so you get an array of looks likely to please both of you.

In this case, it sounds like you had a willing subject for your vision rather than a standard paying client, and that allows you to work to please yourself rather than pleasing both of you. And I don't mean to imply he wasn't pleased with this work.

I also do very much like the way the shirt/necklace helps anchor the subject in the third image. I am a big fan of overbalancing a dramatic portrait toward darkness, as is done here, to add mystery to an image.

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I know nothing about portraiture, but I'm sure glad gray is in. I really like your first shot. I think you accomplished what you set out to do, except I wouldn't say he looked "bad", just pensive. Good looking, too.

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DBL

Is that Gabe?

My son swims for the maple Grove Crimson - and I swear that looks like Gabe - one of the captains from this years swim team?

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