2017 02 - Practical Portraiture

23rd February 2017
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
23rd February 2017
Images by Joy Allison & Des Lloyd

Practical Portraiture

Members’ annual opportunity to practice their portraiture skills in the meeting room with the benefit of models and professional lighting was well attended. We were pleased to welcome back James Davies along with Kristy and Bronte, his models.

James had arranged two sets for us offering different conditions and requiring different settings. He began the session by explaining how he thought we should set up our cameras. His suggestions had most of us working rather differently from normal, which was good practice and made us think.

James surprised some when he commented that he uses his camera on programme mode a lot on shoots, but he backed up his use of this semi-automatic setting with figures for the sums spent by the camera manufacturers on research. He believes the vast sums involved are liable to mean that the camera knows better than him in many non-standard situations - and especially situations where there is no second chance, such as weddings.

For this exercise we were all asked to work in manual, where we dialled in the settings ourselves. We learned that the flash governs the exposure of the subject while the overall exposure manages the lighting on the background and how much detail will appear in the final image.
The first set included a very big light box with a diffusing cover over the front to give a lovely, soft light on the model, Bronte. The light flashes in response to a command from a trigger fitted to the camera. James supplied five triggers for each set and members took turns to try their hand. For this set James had hung a set of decorative small lights from the curtains in the background to add interest to the image. When captured out of focus in the way we were working they produce a 'bokeh', which complements the subject and enhances the image.

The second set had Kristy seated behind a table on which tea lights were placed. A shorter exposure time here resulted in a complementary light from this source as well as the light from a smaller flash unit.

James circulated between the sets advising members on their technique and critiquing their results. The models swapped sets and members persuaded James to change how Kristy was seated as some felt the step ladder on which she was perched did not enhance the resulting images. His view was that if you can create a beautiful image in such a situation you can create one anywhere. A point well made, but as we had the opportunity to change it, it seemed nicer to have this lovely young lady against a simpler background.

James is very organised and comes with ideas and sets we can all manage and come away from with pleasing results. Kristy and Bronte are friendly and helpful and have been to us before so everyone now feels more comfortable with the process. Members will be delighted to know that James has already been booked again for next season.