Today in Portraiture

Today I decided I was going to make an actual effort to get some mileage out of the prime lens (50mm 1.8f) I got with my dSLR. So I did a little portraiture. Here are the results.

Result: Acceptable!

26 Comments on “Today in Portraiture”

  1. The fiddy is a nice lens. I have one myself! Great for portraits. It’s my second favorite after my 30mm.

  2. That’s wonderful!

    And a marvellous response to people who claim that women shouldn’t have the vote, shouldn’t go to college etc. etc. etc.

    Your photos of your wife and daughter are so good at articulating what underlines that. Thank you. And congratulations!

  3. Bill Harting – John posted this a few years back, about how he approaches his photography:

    He’s upgraded to a full frame camera since then. I’d wager he still shoots Raw and does the Black & White conversion in post processing.

    Also, really nice photos! I have the 35mm F1.8 for my crop sensor bodies, which gives about the same field of view (if not quite the same quality) and it’s great for portraits.

  4. You might find a 35mm / 80mm pair better for indoor portraiture. OTOH with modern picture editing facilities that may not be so important. I preferred the 35mm perspective for general use, but that was with chemical film and no editing.


  5. I’m going to be a bit critical here. While I’m not a professional photographer, I’ve attended classes given by those who are, and I want to share what I’ve learned to critique these photos. From a pose and lighting perspective, these look very good. I like the overall dark theme with the faces mostly well lit. Yours is a bit dark in the eyes, and I think it would look a bit better if they were brighter.

    Where they’re lacking is sharpness. First, Athena’s photo looks spot on. However, you and your wife are a bit soft. The rule with a portrait is that if the eyes aren’t in focus, then the picture is out focus. Your shot is nicely focused on your beard, which is clearly your best quality, but keeping the eyes in focus is best overall. You also don’t want one eye in focus and one not.

    If you shot these at f1.8, that does make it difficult to get the focus right. That’s a very narrow field of focus. You might try backing off a little to maybe 2.8 to help get both eyes in focus.

    Overall it looks like you’re doing just fine. Think of it as your writing editor would. The plot and characters are just fine, but you need to tidy up the technical parts of some of the writing to make it cleaner.

  6. A selfie and two portraits … all three work well for the genres. Normal lenses are pretty good for this kind of thing: they let you work a little farther back and get a good image size, reducing perspective distortion. You can see the difference in the ‘nose enlargement’ between the selfie and the two portraits.

    A slightly longer focal length (60-75mm) pushes you to work a little further back still and gives the most natural perspective as a result. We normally look at our friends and family from about 4 to 7 foot distances, and our brains sort out the perspective distortions for us when we come in closer. Lens and camera doesn’t do the sorting out so we have to rely on distance to do it.

    Nice stuff. Your wife and daughter have beautiful faces. :-)

  7. gerg1967:

    “I meant to do that!”

    And actually I did, although in a general sense I well take your point. But in these particular cases I liked the effect of the focus on my beard, and on the tip of Krissy’s nose in her picture, so those were intentional choices; I had plenty of pictures where the eyes were in focus but which were not compositionally as interesting to me (also, I had even more photos where everything was ridiculously out of focus, because as I’ve noted, this is me trying to figure out the lens).


    I have a 28-300mm lens, and at one point I did the thing where I took a picture of Krissy while pulling in on the zoom so I could see the effect it had on the shape of her face. It was a worthwhile exercise.

  8. These are great images. I have an 85 mm F1.8 Nikon lens, and it’s one of my long term favorites, especially to image places with low lighting and even stage events. Nice work.

  9. As usual, Krissy and Athena look lovely. You look great, too, though I wouldn’t use the word “lovely”. I think this would be a great author photo for the dust jacket on THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE.

  10. The shot of Krissy is especially nice – I’m very much put in mind of the Hollywood starlet shots of the 1930s.

  11. The ladies are lovely, but they always are. The picture of you is, to me, the most interesting as a picture. The detail on your beard is fantastic!

    How good a drummer are you now? Are we talking traps or hand drums? (I doodle on the djembe and the doumbek.)

  12. Technically, the classic portrait lens is the 85/2.8, but when it doubt, put the 5o on and move until you fill the frame.

    Indeed, that’s why photography classes demanded a Pentax K1000 with a 50mm lens. Find the image, get it.

    (Remember when bracketing was important?)

  13. Xopher:

    Trap set. I’m decent but not great. I can keep time.


    The “distinguished look” calls out the importance of framing, as just out of frame at the top, my hair is a tangled mess.

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