nathancarter on 5 years ago
Overall, nice work. Obviously you've got the basic techniques under control, so I won't comment much on that. The rest comes down to developing a personal style, including sound compositional theory. I'm still working on these myself, and it just comes with time and experience and shooting, shooting.
At a glance, this one doesn't really do much for me. I'm not familiar with the series or these characters - does this pose or arrangement have a strong significance to the characters? Maybe I'm missing something.
I can see that you put a fair amount of effort in to it, in terms of placement of the characters and props, and finding a vantage point from which to shoot. But, the lack of eye contact kinda kills it for me, as a standalone shot. Were she looking up to the camera, the image would have been a lot stronger.
Barring that change to the pose, some sort of off-camera lighting could have potentially added a lot of drama and mood to this. Again, not familiar with the anime, so maybe that wouldn't have been appropriate here, if you're recreating a particular scene.
A little bit of counter-clockwise rotation/crop would have lined up the prone character and the weapon, parallel to the image edges. That would have had more appealed to me personally, but I'm a big fan of straight lines and right angles.
I like it a lot, definitely up my alley. DOF is a little shallow and the crop is a little close, but I would have to compare to a wider crop to see if those worked better.
I might have liked a slight pan to the right, putting the arrowhead squarely on the rule-of-thirds line or even on the center of the golden-ratio spiral. That would have kept the tip of the arm bracer in the shot, at the expense of losing a few of the less-important feathers.
The lines in the background coming out the sides of the head are a little distracting.
A couple clicks with a clone or heal brush would remove that blemish on the chin.
Good composite; I wouldn't have noticed it's a composite unless you pointed it out.
Is this purely ambient, or is the main light an off-camera flash to high camera left? Looking at the loop shadow on the nose, can't tell if that's direct sun or off-camera flash.
The skin on her face is a little hot in this one, but I generally like that in pictures of women. Some people would say the skin is overexposed; I think it's just about right for this kind of shot.
The tall vertical composition doesn't really work for me, if only because I'm looking at it on a widescreen monitor so I can't see the whole image at once without scaling it way down. In print it's probably very dramatic.
Glancing through your DA gallery of recent stuff, everything you've posted is pretty good, with some real great shots in there.
In addition to getting used to your new FF capabilities, in 2014 I would give you a handful of challenges:
1) Continue to coax more emotion and drama out of your subjects - poses, interaction with the camera and other cosplayers, and especially in facial expressions. This is tough - especially with people you're meeting for the first time - but comes with experience and practice and practice and practice. Glancing through the first three pages of your DA: The vast majority are a neutral/blank or slightly-smiling facial expression. Let's see some anger in the face when they swing the weapon (as in your Dragon Warrior shot), let's see the insanity in the eyes of the Joker. The Jack Frost blowing ice (Holiday Matsuri) is a great example.
2) It's easy to spend someone else's money, and this is just my personal style: Experiment with multiple off-camera lights, and gels. A rim light or kicker light can add a lot of pop to a portrait against a dark background, or add a highlight to a weapon or to a shiny piece of armor. The Yongnuo YN-560III is a great second light, and only 75 bucks.
3) Do some more variety in your edits. A clean, colorful, properly exposed portrait is a must-have, and you've got those well under control - so now keep experimenting with some other styles.
Thank you for taking the time to give me that very in depth critique.
To answer a few questions
I am not familiar with the series either, but the placement and overhead style was inspired by some Japanese chanbara films I had been watching a month prior.
The posing they came up with so I just sort of went with it. It is a unique piece, but perhaps something similar would be worth trying again in the future.
Didn't even notice those lines on the wall
Surprisingly this was purely ambient. Just that perfect twilight hour with the sun beaming down through the trees. Perfect timing, perfect place and it was all impromptu.
Some of your position preferences are understandable, but I worked with what I had (85mm) and wanted to show off the sword.
The DA is a bit if a best off which i've sorely been neglecting. I try to post one or two per convention, but I easily have more that I sometimes come across months later thinking "Why didn't I post this on DA".
2) Really looking into this currently. Money was a big problem and for the longest time all I had was a T2I, 50mm 1.8 and a 17-85 f4-5.6 (given to me). So I focused on what could make me stand out and bring the most out of what I had. While I do have some recognition it is tough to see other people who can easily gel out their FF photos or throw a lot of photoshop.
Now money isn't as much as a problem before and i've been looking into things such as going to a soft box instead of an umbrella. Having an additional strobe for gels and incorporating my reflector to help bounce off the flash. Right now I just have the yN560 2, wasn't aware they made a III.
Currently I use the 85mm 1.8 most of the time and have the 50mm for tight places.. really need to figure out my new wide angle situation.
Thanks again =)
nathancarter on 5 years ago
My go-to modifier for a Speedlight is a "brolly box" - a reflective umbrella (instead of shoot-through) with a built-in diffuser. The light quality is very similar to a softbox: Wider, more spread, more wrap, less of a center hostpot and less rapid falloff. It'll almost certainly work with the umbrella adapter that you already have for your shoot-through, so it'll minimize any additional expense of changing modifiers - no need to get an expensive softbox, speedring adapter, new brackets, etc.
These are the ones that I have, two of them for $33. I need to replace them, though; I've used them hard for the past two years and one of 'em gave up the ghost at Dragon Con. Definitely got my money's worth.
Here's a good article on the differences in light quality between a shoot-through and bounce or brolly-box:
The YN-560III was just released a couple of months ago; it adds a lot of usability features such as potential for adjusting flash settings using in-camera menus... but the light is the same. I'm still using the YN-560 II (two of them) which work great. Tempted to upgrade, but it's not really worth the expense since I already have the 560 IIs.
Speedlight-sized gels are inexpensive:
I like them, I think they are all interesting, my "critiques" are merely suggestions as I think your fundamentals are pretty darn good. This is just my .02 since you asked.
1st one if you shot in raw, you could really do some editing to make the concrete look really textured with exposure and contrast (leaving your characters alone),, could probably get away with vignetting it just slightly to make the concrete look more interesting. I do think that character in the black mask looking the opposite direction would have made the overall layout better since it makes you want to look where she is looking at but its minor.
2nd and 3rd really pop on your post colors. I like the 2nd the most, but be careful of cropping off tips of elbows as sometimes itll draws attention to an area you dont want attention. You could have also had her move farther away from the background and you could have used a little bit lower aperture (higher #) to get the fist more in focus without sacrificing bokeh of the background...but...its probably more of a preference and its an awesome photo.
your framing of the weapon being the same distance from the edges of the photo is incredible if its not cropped...colors pop...good exposure...but maybe a little blown out but it could also be an editing choice.
Really strong and good work I like it a lot.