Wednesday, December 3, 2014

introduction to PORTRAIT

1) Portrait understanding 
Painting or drawing or shooting with a camera doesn't change the essence of the meaning “portrait”. In fact a portrait is done to tell the story, the attitude or to stop a feeling of the sitter.
One of the most important thing about portrait photography is an interest in our subjects.



The subject that we are going to draw with our camera needs our attention, our focus, our full understanding to better appear on our lighted description of him/her. When we look at portraits, we learn about the people in them, more often there is just one person but we can have portraits of families, groups or historical representatives of social groups, classes or events.
We all reveal our feelings and attitudes differently. Some of us may show our individual character with immediate transparency, while others may be more difficult to “read” at first. The photographer must become proficient at studying people whom he or she doesn’t know in order to capture their essence. This means watching for signals in a subject’s mannerism, reactions, expressions, body language and so on, and then judging how best to have the subject’s character revealed for the camera.
This requires passion and an understanding of human nature. It is almost always better engaging the subject in conversation, and quickly finding a suitable topic that will grab her or his interest and evoke a reaction. Find common ground or a topic of particular interest to your subject, which can be a hobby, the latest news, a mutual acquaintance, or any number of topics. Building a rapport with the subject is important, whether a three-year-old child or a ninety-five-year old statesman, because it makes the subject more at ease in your presence, and therefore more-relaxed and natural-looking for the lens. We must take all possible steps to put a subject at ease in order for her or him to appear natural.

2) In studio or in location



There are two elements to a photo studio for portrait photography. One is a controlled background. We want to focus attention on our subject and avoid distracting elements in the frame. Probably the best portraits are not taken against a grey seamless paper roll but in the natural subject location, in a city market, on a river, inside their own house or on the streets. On the other hand, we are unlikely to screw up and leave something distracting in the frame if we confine ourself to using seamless paper or other monochromatic backgrounds. We don't have to build a special room to have a controlled background. Usually a monochromatic wall it is enough. If we absolutely cannot control the background, the standard way to cheat is to use a long fast lens, e.g., 300/2.8. Fast telephoto lenses have very little depth of field. Our subject's eyes and nose will be sharp. Everything else that might have been distracting will be blurred into blobs of colour.

Monnalisa - advertising calendar for beauty products



We can notice that both pictures are taken in a photo studio but the first from the left
is concerning about the pose and the lighting and the second one about the story
behind the shooting.



What if we don't have a big open space with diffuse light and a neutral background? We can find one. Everywhere we live, in every city or village, there is a vast open space with natural light or artificial lights like a train station a shopping mall a museum, a mountain or a beach . With any lens set to f/2.8 or f/3.5, the background will be thrown out of focus. Here are some examples from city shooting:

Portrait with mild background

The background is not blur but doesn't
steal the focus from the subject.
Brenda posing for a magazine article
The overexposure and the image composition
 are driving the viewer to the subject face
following a virtual line


In this image we show the location but we leave it blur to keep the focus on the subject
In this image we show the location but we leave it blur to keep the focus on the subject.

3) Composition, point of view and prospective
Most portraits are taken with the camera at (or around) the eye level of the subject. While this is good common sense – completely changing the angle that you shoot from can give your portrait a real WOW factor.
We can get up high and shoot down on our subject or get as close to the ground as we can and shoot up. Either way we’ll be seeing our subject from an angle that is bound to create interest.




It is amazing how much the direction of our subject’s eyes can impact an image. Most portraits have the subject looking in the lens – something that can create a real sense of connection between a subject and those viewing the image but there are a couple of other things that we can try:




a) The off camera looking, have our subject focus their attention on something unseen and outside the field of view of your camera. This can create a feeling of candidness and also create a little intrigue and interest as the viewer of the shot wonders what they are looking at. This intrigue is particularly drawn about when the subject is showing some kind of emotion (for example ‘what’s making them laugh?’ or ‘what is making them look surprised?’). We must be aware that when we have a subject looking out of frame that we can also draw the eye of the viewer of the shot to the edge of the image also (taking them away from the point of interest in our shot) the subject.


Eye contact can be important but we can try other solutions, as this image shows




b) Looks within the frame, alternatively you could have your subject looking at something (or someone) within the frame. A child looking at a ball, a woman looking at her new baby, a man looking hungrily at a big plate of pasta…. When you give your subject something to look at that is inside the frame you create a second point of interest and a relationship between it and your primary subject. It also helps create ’story’ within the image.




When you give your subject something to look at that is inside the frame you create a second point of interest and a relationship between it and your primary subject


When you give your subject something to look at that is inside the frame you create a second point of interest and a relationship between it and your primary subject




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Convert images in Black & White

Drinking cat - B&W image - photo by ClaudioTodaro.com
A B&W image by Claudio Todaro
Most of us love black & white pictures, they are part of our memories and an artistic expression. How can we transform the pictures from our digital camera to B&W?
The first and quickest way is to set our camera in B&W mode, this is quick, this works but has a very important down side, it is difficult to add the colours later on.
My opinion is to have the chance to choose the best between two different kind of pictures instead to have just one of them.






The other more effective way is to use one of the many photo editing software (GIMP, Photoshop, Elements...) to change the "Saturation" value to "-100" (zero -  this value is related to the software in use).
Please find an example below.

                                               Before                                                After
Saturation setting to trasform a colour image in B&W - photo by ClaudioTodaro.comSaturation setting to trasform a colour image in B&W - photo by ClaudioTodaro.com

Once the "Saturation" has been set then we can change other parameters such as "Exposure", "Temperature", "Tint" and "Contrast", accordingly with the actual image and our personal taste.

For example, moving the "Tint" cursor/value from one side to the other we will notice how the density of the image increase or decrease.

Please find below the final result of the above example:

Brighton in B&W - photo by ClaudioTodaro.com
B&W from colour image - photo by Claudio Todaro

I hope you enjoyed this simple and short article related to B&W image conversion.
Feel free to follow this blog and ask any questions... remember that answer is not granted



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sony Smartphone Lenses - QX10 & QX100


Sony QX100 lens turns your smartphone into a professional DSLR
QX100 lens turns your smartphone into a professional DSLR
When I first read about something new from Sony I was honestly very skeptical, it is because the last few years of Sony products and marketing. In the last ten years Sony has been able to lost the leadership in all the main markets and technologies (except maybe for the game consoles, PlayStation). This time instead Sony come up with something really innovative and appealing.
Bluetooth lenses that we can use plugged to our smartphones, Android or Apple, or remotely using the Bluetooth or NFC technologies to pair them  our devices.



These lenses, the QX10 and the QX100, have been  presented during IFA electronics fair in Berlin and the details are as following:

QX10 = f/2.3-5.9 lens and 18 megapixel sensor - probable cost about £180.00
QX100 = f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss lens and 20.2 megapixel sensor - probable cost about £400.00

Sony QX10 lens turns your smartphone into a semi-professional DSLR
QX10 lens turns your smartphone into a semi-professional DSLR

The comfortable use of this portable lens can really change the photography vision and way to take pictures, especially for old people like me used to move around a studio with an heavy 6X6 Pentax. Using these lenses remotely will be possible to explore new angles and possibilities. Creativity will be more free to express itself and probably we will be able to plug those lenses to our laptops/tablets/PCs too.







I add to the article this short but enjoyable video from Sony. The video shows as comfortable and easy could be to take high quality images in any circumstances.





Feel free to follow this blog and ask any questions... answer is not granted.

by Claudio Pertini

















Thursday, September 5, 2013

PHOTOSHOP retouch gone wrong

 Retouch - Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality
Magic Hands
Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality.

The results could be really satisfactory but as per any software/application from a wonderful instrument the human kind can create abominations, monsters or just funny images.

Please find a few of them on this post. I hope they will make you smile and I hope these will help you to think while you retouch the pictures, fingers crossed we will not find our images any soon on this post ;)








 Retouch - Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality
Extraordinary Muscles 
 Retouch - Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality
How to Improve your Popularity

  Retouch - Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality
New Bag Design - Invisible
  Retouch - Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality
When one is not enough
  Retouch - Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality
A Voluntary Disaster?

 Retouch - Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality
When the Press makes a Mess

 Retouch - Photoshop or Gimp are amazing software that help to improve the images quality
Love is not always accepted as it is

I hope you enjoyed these catastrophic retouching, please feel free to post your experience or other funny/horrible pictures.

I have to thank the following websites from where I took the images:

http://www.psdisasters.com (aka photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com )

Feel free to follow this blog and ask any questions... answer is not granted.

by Claudio Pertini

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Writing with light = PHOTOGRAPHY

Light control in Singapore - photo by Claudio
Light control in Singapore - photo by Claudio Todaro
Writing with the light, this is the meaning of photography and so the most common and ugly mistake in photography are related to the miss-knowledge of light. Even the blur images are often a consequence of this.
Most of the people that use a camera thinks that pushing the shutter button is enough to get a good picture. Well, thanks to technology, digital cameras and a pinch of luck, this is possible  but light can always surprise us, in a good or in a bad way.


To control light we must apply the correct balance between shutter speed - aperture - ISO

The perfect balance is related to type of photo we are trying to achieve. For example for sport/action/children/animals image we will give priority to the "shutter speed" and set the other two elements accordingly. Instead if we want to control the DOF (depth of field) then we will concentrate on the "aperture", more open is the aperture (the value is related to the lenses we use), for example f 3.5, less is the DOF and more is the light is coming in the camera, the clarity of the picture will be restricted to the point where we focus. If we want a to have a long table of people all perfectly clear the most simple way obtain a decent result is to focus just before the middle of the table, set the aperture to a close value, for example f 16 (don't take this value literally because light lead the choice), and then we need a suitable "shutter speed", why suitable? because more people is in the image highest is the risk that someone is moving. Then we check our camera exposimeter (if there is any) otherwise just follow the camera suggestions when you select the "aperture priority" setting.


ISO follows light, more light less ISO value needed, less light higher is the ISO value required.
Have you doubts? Questions? Need more information? Then write me in here or use a search engine to find a your answers. You will be welcome to ask but remember answer is not granted.


Horse Race sport shot in Windsor UK - photo by Claudio Todaro
Horse Race sport shot in Windsor UK - photo by Claudio Todaro
Depth of Field in Batu Caves, Malaysia - photo by Claudio Todaro
Depth of Field example in Batu Caves, Malaysia - photo by Claudio Todaro
Depth of Field example in Trapani, charity dinner, Italy - photo by Claudio Todaro
Depth of Field example in Trapani, charity dinner, Italy - photo by Claudio Todaro
Depth of Field, London Zoo, UK - photo by Claudio Todaro
Depth of Field, London Zoo, UK - photo by Claudio Todaro







Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Photography - the Best and the Worst

Monkey at Batu Caves in Malaysia by Claudio Todaro
Monkey at Batu Caves in Malaysia by Claudio Todaro
As per any respectful so called photographer I will start this blog talking about myself :)

 No, the one showed in the beside portrait is not me.
I took this picture in Malaysia, Batu Caves, a very interesting and colourful location. This was taken inside the main giant cave where the main temple is located.

I have been working in photography for more than 20 years, I am 40 now so you can understand that this is a very long long commitment. I worked in different type of environments and I thought photography in different countries around the world. I can say that I have got a certain experience to judge the technical quality of the images. Photography is an art and so we can have beautiful extremes or horrible results. If you are interested in my opinion about your work send your images over and I will check them out.
The photography work is awesome... when it is well done and better when it is well paid. Unfortunately these qualities often are not associated.
If you want to have my opinion regarding your pictures, please, send them to me. In your post/email please specify if you want to remain anonymous or if I can publish your name. I will be honest and probably I will publish them on this blog. I will be your honest photography consultant.

Feel free to follow this blog and ask any questions... answer is not granted.

Saline (salt fields) with Flamingos in Trapani, Italy - photo by Claudio Todaro
Saline (salt fields) with Flamingos in Trapani, Italy - photo by Claudio Todaro


Model in London UK. checking the perspective and the composition, photo by Claudio Todaro
Model in London UK. photo by Claudio Todaro

Mother with baby, murale as background, in Notting Hill - by Claudio Todaro
Mother with baby, murale as background, in Notting Hill - photo by Claudio Todaro