2016 04 - Portraiture

09th April 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
17th March 2016
Images by Ben Searson and Dik Allison

Portraiture Tutorial

James Davies returned to present a practical session in portraiture, accompanied by his assistant Emma and models Marcie and Christie. He quickly introduced his plan for the evening, which was to use the camera settings to darken the background and create the desired lighting on the model.

Christie was positioned by the window. In daytime the use of natural light from a window can create beautiful effects, but at night this is impossible. For this studio, James set up the flash outside, directed through the window. A big problem with taking photographs by a window is unwanted reflections. By placing the flash unit outside it is possible to get the benefit of the lighting and control it in ordered to achieve the desired result. In this case James was trying to set the model against a dark background and create ‘Rembrandt light’, which is a flattering triangle shape, on the cheek.

James helped members find the right position from which to shoot and guided them in setting up their cameras. He provided remote triggers for his flash units which fitted onto the flash shoe on the camera which activated the outside flash remotely.

For his second ‘fashion’ studio, James arranged Marcie sitting on a stool with the flash above and to one side while a reflector was placed at 45o to reflect light onto her face. James described some cheap but effective lights which would work for individuals trying this technique although in our tutorial situation he was using a set-up which recharged quickly to enable everyone to gain maximum benefit from the session.

Members were advised to set their cameras to manual and to use a long focal length lens in the range 80 – 110mm and the ISO set to around 100. James said he works with his white balance set to auto and sorts out any anomalies in post processing if he needs to. He justified this saying ‘The camera is far cleverer than me.’

We learned that different brands of camera create a different colour in the background and that setting a faster shutter speed would enable us to darken the background. Again members were able to borrow remote triggers for the flash to fit to their cameras and James’ assistant, Emma, helped everyone to achieve their chosen shot.

Members always enjoy the practical sessions and this was a well-attended evening. The chance to practice created a lot of discussion and Emma commented that she really enjoys seeing students try the technique, look at their results, show then to a friend and smile. There were a lot of smiles this evening and many favourable comments. This is unlikely to be James’ last visit to the club.