Portrait assignment

A friend of mine gave me an assignment a couple of weeks ago. It was a result of the e-mail exchange we had about photography, but it is beside the subject. The task was to set up a portrait studio under a white sheet with one light source on the outside. White sheet was working as light diffuser and created an isolated background for the portrait.

Trying different light types and positions could have been part of the assignment. Any home light fixture, flashlight flash or studio light would do the trick. I used my SB-600 strobe, but I guess even a living room lamp would do, especially that ISO can be increased. I actually started from shooting the flash from camera in Commander mode. I quickly noticed it was adding light to the scene (yeah, I know it shouldn’t, but it did, and was spoiling the image). I changed it to cable, and my lighting improved.

The other thing I experimented with was the lens. At first, I instinctively picked up my 30 mm f/1.4, on cropped sensor it works as a “normal” lens, 50 mm equivalent. It is very fast lens and offers sharper images. But it focuses from longer distance then my zoom, and overall was too wide for what I wanted to achieve. I put my old good 18-200 mm f/3.5 – 5.6 back on. The shutter speed was not important in this setting, I set it up once and forgot about it- it was just supposed to be short enough for handhold and no ambient light in the exposure.

I started from typical portrait settings, 70 mm and f/5.6, but I found it very uninspiring. I do not normally take portraits nor enjoy doing that. Human faces just not interest me, although I have to admit that my husband was a great model. I had to work hard to get creative. I shot bunch of front and side views, and decided that, after all, this is my assignment and I should shoot like me. I increased focal length all the way to 200 mm and tried to open the aperture, but couldn’t go any further. That’s all right, with 200 mm I got enough shallow depth of field. I just had to remember to keep always an eye (yeah, just one) in focus, and I went for close-up, detail and fragment.

I ended up with few keepers and Tomasz got a new avatar. This one on blog today is my favorite. I like the shallow depth of field around the face especially on the chin. I like how my husband tilted the head and how his blue shirt provided nice touch of color in the corner.

If you would like to participate in this challenge, post a link to your Flickr gallery or blog post in the comments section. It is great fun to work under the sheet :), so why not give it a try?