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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Shooting People... Techniques???...I'm finding I'm having a difficult time photographing people in color. I know most portraits are done in color, but ...
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Old 25-03-2005, 13:58   #1 (permalink)
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Shooting People... Techniques???

I'm finding I'm having a difficult time photographing people in color. I know most portraits are done in color, but for some reason, I'm constantly drawn to converting them to B&W and liking the end result more. Is this a common thing? How do you all shot "People"? And is it a preference thing or is there some sort of rule? Just curious...

Thanks,
Eric
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Old 25-03-2005, 14:20   #2 (permalink)
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Fellow black and white lover here Eric. Can you enlarge on what your problems are in colour though? Other than white balance and skin tones I'n not quite sure what you mean!

One of the problems with photographing people is they can become very self conscious and uncomfortable which shows itself in the results. Professional models for example exude confidence, but wives and girl friends press -ganged into posing often look very uncomfortable. I like to try the candid technique where people are taken unknowingly, particularly in the street and public places. This presents a problem to many photographers who in turn aren't comfortable shooting strangers in public - we're not the paparazzi after all.

One technique to try is to set the shutter speed and aperture for reasonable DOF and a shutter speed around 125th if you can, and then let the camera hang down on it's strap at your waist. Focus the lens at it's hyperfocal distance for the aperture you're using for max DOF. With just one hand on the camera, you don't appear to be taking shots and can casually point the camera in the direction of interesting shots, pressing the shutter while looking elsewhere and hopefully going unnoticed. It helps if you can use a fairly wide angle lens and crop afterwards where necessary.

Basically with this technique you're turning your expensive SLR into a point and shoot Instamatic, but you can get good results. Watch for the light conditions changing though after your initial reading. This is one area where cameras with a swivelling screen really score as you can usually glance down at the screen to see your subjects. but still not appear to be taking shots.
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Old 25-03-2005, 16:03   #3 (permalink)
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Sorry, CT... I guess I should have clarified that... My photos themselves turn out just fine... It's ME! I personally don't like the color photos of people... I have NO idea why, I just prefer B&W. And thats with almost every shot I take of people. I just think it looks better, and was wondering if this is normal or just my own personal preference.

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Eric
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Old 25-03-2005, 16:13   #4 (permalink)
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Unless your subjects are professionally made up or have a really great complexion colour shots will emphasise any blemishes no matter how small. If not and when shot with excellent control of lighting either in a studio or with reflectors etc on location, colour really works well and can be bright, vibrant or just pain moody. For most of us we donít get the opportunity to shoot under these conditions and converting our photos to B&W will reduce the slight colour variants and allow us to mask these blemishes. It also makes the image more contrasty and can add an extra element to draw the viewer attention. Both will work equally as well when done properly but in general, I feel as amateurs we can get away with more by shooting B&W.
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Old 25-03-2005, 17:33   #5 (permalink)
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Black and white has a nice traditional feel to it too, and has a more sort of graphical quality. As Steve says, B&W can hide a mulititude of sins. In the camera manuals you always get that young lady sitting by the white wall along with the instructions on how to bounce the flash off the wall for softer light. That situation rarely occurs in the real world, and in practice the skin tones pick up all sorts of colour casts with the bounced light from walls and ceilings which are always any colour but white. :cry:
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Old 26-03-2005, 14:48   #6 (permalink)
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While the 'covert' approach can sometimes work out, I feel that a 'truer' image is always better achieved by brassing it out and being very up-front about what you're up to.
I'm going to use the 3 weeks Easter Leave (cheers, Boss) to do a bit of street photography to put my money where my mouth is - it's always easier to do War Photography, as the subjects generally have other things on their minds than what the photographer is up to!!!
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Old 28-03-2005, 14:55   #7 (permalink)
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Hello Eric, I totally agree with what your saying as well. I believe it's just a personal preference with everyone. I like black and white photos of people because their simple, and timeless. When I look at a photograph I remember how it makes me feel. I don't like the distraction of colour when it comes to people, it takes away from the emotion that comes from the picture I think. I started practising on my children too a few years back, and now my home looks like a gallery of them,lol. All in black and white! I don't do "portraits" of them though, I only like candid shots of people personally. This is just a hobby of mine, no pro photog here!
Regards, Jewel
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