Tuesday, September 18, 2018

PORTRAIT LENSES USED BY PROFESSIONALS


In professional portrait photography lens choice is the single most important factor in creating pleasing images that our clients will love and buy. It’s our job to make people look better than in real life not worse by using a lens that creates unattractive distortion. 

All lenses create distortion, so it’s our job to only use a focal length that distorts in a good way. That’s why I use the Most Telephoto I have at my disposal within a given environment. That will always give me the good distortion known as compression distortion.

The telephoto lens, especially at 200mm and beyond, will compress a scene, pushing your subject INTO the background and, coupled with a relatively wide aperture will, at the same time, SEPARATE them from the background with really nice out of focus bokeh as in this image…



f4.5 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 200mm
As you can see the out of focus specular highlights have been turned into nice soft bokeh mostly due to the 200mm focal length NOT A WIDE OPEN APERTURE as many photographers believe. I could have used f2.8, but that would create the possibility of an unsharp subject due to lack of depth-of-field. Besides, even the most expensive lenses are not their sharpest wide open. That why I use an aperture of f4.5 for individual portraits; I get good depth-of-field AND nice bokeh!

Don’t use wide angle lenses for portraits!

I don’t use wide angle lenses for portraits because for adequate head sizes, using a wide angle lens, you must move in close to the subject(s), which causes very unattractive extension distortion. All lenses distort in some way—but this type of distortion where the closest part of your subject to the lens becomes unnaturally larger happens naturally with ALL lenses, however Short Lenses will Amplify this effect.

The telephoto lens forces the photographer to Back-Up changing the scenes perspective—compressing the scene and making the subject look great.

Here’s a side-by-side example I took during a student one-on-one class showing these effects…

Notice how the 70mm lens is making her forehead, nose and chin larger—those parts of her face are being PULLED towards the camera. I choose to use 70mm as my wide example to make my point about wide angle (extension) distortion because most photographers probably would consider 70mm to be telephoto! Besides it would be too easy to show extension distortion using a 50mm or 35mm lens.

Looking at the image done at 200mm all those features of her face are pushed AWAY from the camera using Compression Distortion creating a much more pleasant portrait.

In addition the backgrounds look very different even though I used exactly the same aperture (f4.5) on each image. Because I used my lens at 200mm that background is much more defocused and less distracting than the image using the “wide-angel” lens. 

I apply this technique in ALL of my portrait photography. I always use the most telephoto I can use even in group portraits.

My Go-To focal lengths for Portraits:

Groups:  135mm to 150mm

Individuals:  200mm to 300mm

Have questions?  Don’t hesitate to ask…’Til next week

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training Site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client Site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY; PERSPECTIVE CORRECTION


When doing travel photography particularly in old cities we tend to use our wide angle lenses a lot on architectural subjects. The most common problem then is the perspective distortion of a building’s vertical lines, which is made worse using a wide angle lens in close, making the building appear to be falling away from the camera position. Since most photographers don’t use or even own a tilt-shift lens, out side of architectural specialists, to correct this distortion when on location, we can still correct this effect, in post, with software.

Here’s an example of the falling away effect…
f13.0 @ 1/350 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 24mm
This is one of my favorite images I took on Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy. In order to capture the whole arch I had to use my short zoom at 24mm; I could not back-up enough to use my longer telephoto, which could have solved this type of distortion. In addition, if I had backed-up a lot that great tree would have been cut into by the arch. Obviously the placement of the tree was critical in this image!

There is a tool in Photoshop that fixes these issues with no problem. The Perspective Crop Tool…Take a look at how I corrected the distortion from that fantastic vacation in Italy….


With Correction

It worked like a charm and was easy to employ; look it up—there are several tutorials on YouTube. Note that you do lose some of the image because a crop is necessary. I was fine with it because I didn’t want any sky showing above the top of the arch anyway.

Not content to leave it alone…


Conversion
Because of the strong blacks in this image and the great texture of the stone work, I knew this would make an excellent Black & White fine art image. I converted my new color image using NIK’s Silver Efex Pro-2 using the Sepia Preset.

So, with the Perspective Crop Tool in good old Photoshop who needs a tilt-shift lens; those things are just really expensive!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a message…’Til next week….

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training Site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

Client Site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

QUICK ROADSIDE ART PHOTOGRAPHY


On our way to a funeral in Hailey, Idaho we passed by what looked like an old church in the little town of Corral, on the Camas Prairie, off of Highway 20. I noted it, but didn’t stop because the light in the late morning was not great relative to the building; in addition there were no clouds.  However, on our way back we hit that area at about 5pm. So, I stopped for a few minutes to see what I could get in that light. I discovered that this was an old school; the sign on the building indicating its operation from 1908 to 1953. What caught my eye was the old bell tower and the cross pattern with the diamond feature on that end of the building.

Here’s one of my wilder versions of that feature…
f14.0 @ 1/250sec., ISO 200; Lens @ 40mm
I wanted to really enhance that old wood and the clouds so, I used NIK’s, HDR Efex Pro 2, single image tone mapping using my version of their “late summer” preset.

Here’s the master shot of the school at 5pm.
f14.0 @ 1/250 sec., ISO 200; Lens @ 65mm
In the morning there was no light on the bell tower side of the school; it was all in shadow. Now we have nice hard light (for hard, textured, subjects I like a hard light) where earlier with it in shadow the light was too soft, which eliminates shadows and texture. In addition, now we have some clouds in the sky; I prefer clouds to an empty sky.

And rotating my view…
f14.0 @ 1/250 sec., ISO 200; Lens @ 73mm
You’ve gotta do this kind of subject in B&W as well!  I converted my RAW color image to B&W using NIK’s Silver Efex Pro2, using their Antique Plate 1 preset. A nice traditional B&W presentation for this subject.

And then clouds aligned over the bell tower…
f14.0 @ 1/250 sec., Iso 200; Lens @ 67mm
I really like this up angle with the “cloud piercer” look of that bell towers spike! The crossing, directional, light on the bell tower is picking up lots of detail in those old boards as well.

All told I spent 6 minutes taking the set of images and covered three angles, The wide view and the close-in crops before the wind blew away the clouds! Done.

Well almost—I spent a Lot more time in post doing these creative versions you see here!

Let me know if you have any questions…’Til next week…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com