Feb 26, 2013

Outdoor portrait, light is the thing. By Mike Reid, Boise outdoor portrait photographer.

This is Katrina in light from an sb800 speedlight shot through a softbox. Beautiful model in a very cool setting in a pose you don't see every day. D3 with the 85mm 1.4. this is right before dark on a very chilly day last fall. This is an old town hall built in the late 1800's.

The light adds a lot of character to this shot.

This is Katrina during the same shoot but about 15 minutes earlier, catching the last rays of the sun as it is setting. This is natural light. Nikon D3 and the 85 1.4 used again in this shot.

You can see the benefit of adopting a "best light" strategy. Think of your portraits as a recipe, when you get the mix of components correct...it is all good.

Outdoor portraits, some thoughts about the process. By Mike Reid, Boise outdoor portrait photographer.

I like to compare studio portraits to lake fishing out of a boat, and outdoor on location portraits to mountain stream fishing.
Boat fishing is soooo boring, no adventure, same old stuff not very challenging. The terrain never changes.
Stream fishing, you are always moving, seeing new things with endless possibilities. Different terrain every time.

Each portrait session I shoot I try to find a little different locations and shoot those locations and subjects differently than I have before.

I like to think of my self as a best light photographer. I started out shooting portraits several years ago shooting mostly with a basic softbox and speedlight set up. The results were very nice but I found over time that I don't like messing with lights/equipment.
I have come to understand that I would much rather spend my time working my client and the location to find the best settings and using the best available light.

Usually the person I am photographing arrives with a lot of energy and may sometimes be nervous. The last thing they want to do is stand there while I set up lights, adjust, adjust, adjust. That is no fun for anyone.

Now don't get me wrong sometimes lights are required to get the best out of a subject or a setting. Especially when shooting in a mostly green environment like a park....that is speedlight country....unless you like alien green looking skin. I always have my lights with me and will use them for best effect when necessary.

So since I always shoot the last two hours of the day I always have good light "somewhere", I just need to look for it.
Now assuming good light the first thing I do when assembling my portrait is find a nice setting with a non distracting background. Sounds simple enough......
What I have discovered over time is that I am also subconciously looking for backgrounds with a framing effect for my subject. I almost always shoot portraits with the 85 1.4 at 1.8 or 2, or the 70-200 2.8 at 2.8 or 4 and 200mm. I try to get the most blur possible on my backgrounds this helps greatly in making the background non distracting and allows me to use the colors of the background for subject framing.

Now once we have found our background in good light, it is time to place my portrait subject into the frame.
I already have the photo in my head so I know what the background is going to look like so I pick the best spot for the subject.....which I will probably change a couple times before moving to another spot. I like to try 2 or 3 different looks for a background before I move on.

Next is the pose for the subject. Depending on who I am shooting I try to leave the pose/look to the person I am shooting as much as possible, I tell them to do their thing or some version thereof. Some people need help of course, then I help them out to get into the flow of the location.

Then I take the shot, usually from a few different locations, higher lower a bit from the side. I may adjust the subjects pose or angle. Sometimes very small moves can make a big change in the photo.

I usually shoot 6-8 significant scenes per outing with several casual shots taken along the way as we are looking for the next scene.

So essentially....an experienced professional sees the photo possibilities in their head and then builds the portrait from back to front. A beginner or hobbyist shoots the subject and lets the background fall where it may, essentially creating a portrait built from the front to the back.

For me every portrait session is a search for treasure. I am looking for the light, looking for the backgrounds and all the time working with my subject to have them feeling their best and ready to make the most if it when we find those perfect opportunities to make a great image.

Some shoots you know you killed it before you even get back home and see the photos on the computer screen.   When all the elements come together....you just know it.
Those are the days that keep me picking up the gear and heading out there, nothing else like it.

Feb 20, 2013

Nell, Boise ballerina. Outdoor dance portraits by Boise outdoor portrait photographer Mike Reid.

Nell is a beautiful dancer. She works with one of the Boise dance companies. We did this shoot on a cold winter overcast day in January, it was about 38 degrees.
You could never tell from the photos but the poor girl was freezing. Luckily her car was nearby, so her boyfriend would run and get it warm and then she would go sit until she returned to room temperature then we would shoot again.
My daugher told me to never freeze dancers....probably good advice :).

These are all with natural light and the Nikon d3 with the 85 1.4 lens. Main thing I focused on was to get nice backgrounds and settings in flattering light.
We really did not shoot for more that a few minutes at a time so I was very happy with the number of keepers we did get.

It helped a lot that Nell was a natural poser (as most dancers are) so we didn't have to waste any time in pose coaching, which if you have been following me at all you know I prefer not to do any pose coaching as it slows things down and makes the subject look nervous and unnatural.

Feb 14, 2013

Boise outdoor portraits with Hannah. By Mike Reid.

Boise outdoor portrait shoot with model Hannah, a couple weeks ago at the Old Idaho Penitentiary. This was the second time I have done a shoot in there and there are some really nice sets in there.

These are mostly with the Nikon D3 and the 85 1.4. This is proving to be an excellent combination for natural light photography. All the photos in this set are natural light. Most of these shots are at F2. I always use auto iso so not sure what the iso was but probably ranged from 200 - 800.

Hannah is a fairly experienced model so I did very little posing. I put most of my effort into finding good settings in good light.
She has beautiful hair and amazing blue eyes as you can see in the photos.


What's up with Nikon.

Really, what is up with Nikon.
I shoot with the D700 and the D3....still.
One of these days I may upgrade to the D3S, but for me that is where progress stopped and even the D3S is not a must have. The upgrade is a tough decision for me because the reality is that I would not gain much over the cameras I currently use.

With the new noise control in Lightroom I can take an amazing amount of noise out of my D3 images taken at high ISO. Any lack of dynamic range can for the most part be made up pretty easily in Lightroom as well.

I just don't need all that resolution in the new generation of cameras and the problems that come with it. More resolution does not add any value for me, and I have no use for video. More megapixels is going in the wrong direction.

With the subjects I mainly shoot, portraits and weddings, 12 megapixels is plenty.

The Nikon dream camera for me would be the D700 body with 16 megapixels, two CF cards, more dynamic range, the high ISO performance of the D3S and no video.

Then there is the nagging feeling there in the background that DSLR's may soon be overtaken by one of the mirrorless formats.....with cameras being much smaller and less expensive.

Feb 13, 2013

Boise Outdoor Portraits with male fitness model Damir Delic

Damir is a male fitness model and physique competitor. He competes on the national stage but he lives and trains in Boise.

I contacted Damir out of the blue and asked him if I could shoot his portraits. He said "who are you"?.
So I sent him some example of my work....even though I had never shot fitness before he decided he would give it a go.

I have always wanted to shoot fitness but could never find anyone to give me a shot. I had contacted several people before and never heard anything back.

So anyway, Damir and I have been out twice and guess what.....I CAN shoot fitness....of course it feels almost like cheating to have a great subject like Damir to start out with. He is the ultimate professional and a natural poser, very comfortable in front of the camera.
I did almost no posing. I chose the scenes and oriented Damir so the light would show off his tone and shot away.

So I shot him in natural light (my choice more and more these days) and in a couple of my favorite settings.

Most of these are with the d3 or d700 and the 85 1.4 lens.

Hard to believe I haven't been back on here in a year. Time gets away from us.

I have been very busy shooting and plan to get caught up with posting some photos from the shoots I have been doing.

So if anyone is out there, check back in a day or two for some new content.