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Just when you thought an image couldn't get any worse, this came along. Yes, I made this exposure as well as all the others on this site. Of course, this "portrait" was deliberately botched to make a point. DO NOT TAKE AN AWFUL PICTURE AS I DID! Therefore, do not use a wide angle lens for a close-up, making the nose look very large. Be on guard for background, in this case there is a pole "growing out" of Vanessa's head. And, watch that light! You will observe that there is strong side lighting, placing a dark shadow on the right side of the girl's face. Soon, you will see how to properly deal with this kind of lighting, which has its advantages. Also, note that this is really a vertical composition, yet the camera was held horizontally. Very few people are observed to turn their cameras 90 degrees to create a vertically oriented frame, even when such a simple procedure would greatly enhance the composition. Most of all, try to keep your subjects from staring into the camera! When was the last time you went to the cinema and saw the actors staring into the lens?


This is much better! Now you can really see just how lovely Vanessa really is. The camera has been moved in, capturing only half the body and the face is turned at an angle to the camera. Notice the arms are bent at angles instead being straight and rigid. The background is blurred out of distraction, so that the viewer focuses in on the center of interest, the face. The lens has been focused on the face. The light is strong side lighting as in the previous picture, but there is a big difference: the dark shadow is gone! The advantage of side lighting is that the light models the subject nicely, showing off texture and form. Side lighting also keeps direct light out of the eyes, preventing squinting. To lessen the dark shadow, a large sheet of white cardboard was held just off camera, reflecting light into the shadow area. Other than a sheet of white cardboard, available at any variety store for fifty cents or so, no special equipment was needed for this very nice shot.


No doubt Vanessa will be proud to show this angelic pose to her children to be. This informal portrait owes its qualities to a few simple techniques which merit disclosure. The lighting is shade. Do not be afraid to move your subject out of the harsh light of the sun and into the soft shade. Shade helps to reduce lighting contrast, the enemy of the color photographer. Notice that the out-of-focus building in the background indicates that the camera was tilted as much as 20 degrees from the vertical. Here is where an adjustable camera really shines, for it provides the controls necessary to "blur" the background, while keeping the subject in focus. The focus point should almost always be on the eyes or nose of the face, so these features will remain sharp. While it is possible to use supplementary lighting to "brighten" the face, it is very tricky. If you decide to experiment, be sure to make several exposures so that you can choose the best one. This picture was a straight shot, using just the camera alone. Exposure was determined by taking a reflected light reading off the face and doubling it. This assured registering detail on the negative. A machine print from this negative yielded a too-dark face due to the influence of the bright white blouse on the printer's light meter. Because sufficient detail was on the negative, a successful "custom" print could be successfully produced.