Exercise 4 – An active portrait

For this exercise I am to take an active portrait. I took my camera with me for one of the road cycle training sessions my wife was doing and while she was preparing I moved around taking shots from full length to close up.

My wife does not feel so comfortable with having a set photo session so this helped her concentrate on her activity while could take pictures without making her feel uneasy.

I decided to make shots based on a sequence of events, from preparation to the actual training ride. After post processing I liked both colour and B&W images so I have included both for this exercise.

(click on any image to enlarge)


For the first preparation shot it was fairly easy to show Elaine with the bike and the surroundings. I didn’t want Elaine looking straight at the camera so I asked her to look away as if she is waiting for others to arrive. I cropped in slightly removing the bottom area of the bike which I didn’t feel was relevant, thus allowing a closer look at the face and upper body.


Cropping close to the face and hands, we can see part of the preparation showing the type of equipment needed, both in the helmet and the gloves. Also the cycle shirt shows how important sponsorship is in sports. I used B&W for this one to add impact and remove any colour distractions, but this possibly would not be used for a sponsor shot as brand colours would be important.


One important aspect of cycling is having the correct food for energy and repair kits in the event of a tyre puncture. I was going to have some of the tools and food placed on the floor but it looked too false. I finally went for a close up shot of Elaine checking her cycle case which carries this equipment while making a close crop with an intentional crop of the top of the head and helmet. I feel this brings the eye closer into the face. The hands and face are placed on the rule of thirds.


One final pose shot for the camera. I wasn’t sure of the background but in the desert it was a dull day with no sky or colours, so I used the back of the car to form a box and also give a sense of support for her bike carrying all the equipment. I kept part of the bike in frame so the viewer would know what type of sport the picture depicts.


Ready for go. A shot showing all set for the road. I had Elaine place her foot in the pedals to show a feeling of the starting the ride. I didn’t like the sky as I mentioned in the last photo, but I needed to show an overall shot with the bike. I converted to B&W to help bring out the darker tones of the outfit and bike against the white and grey background.


I waited for Elaine to come around the circuit which in this case was 8KM. Elaine did four total circuits in total and as I was riding with her I stopped one circuit early to grab my camera again and get into position for her final passing leg. I panned the camera and waited for her to come around the corner. I opted for a slight sepia toned image as the B&W was a little too harsh and cropped the image to follow the showdown on the ground leading into the frame. Not ideal but I thought the power lines in the background broke up the sky a little.


This was a fun exercise and one I find easy to work on, due to the fact the subject in the frame can carry on without too much thought of them having their photo taken. I would have liked better light but on the day I had available I had to work with what I had. In the future I would try again but with of camera speed lights and expose for the subject and darken the background.



Exercise 3 – Experimenting with light

This exercise requires me to take four to six portraits of the same subject using different lighting effects. The images should be head and shoulder and if needed one of the images can be flash or studio lighting. We should use a fairly basic none distracting background where possible.

I decided to use my wife as the subject as it was much easier to travel around together and take images spaced over a two or three day period, mainly due to our work commitments and to add different clothing choices.

I decided to use natural lighting for the four images, but this could be almost endless with the options we have to use both natural and artificial lighting.

(click on any image to enlarge)


This image was taken in our garden, while Elaine sat under some shade reading a book. The lighting was fairly direct and bright and taken in the mid day sun, but due to the canvas covering overhead the lighting has produced a soft overall pleasing effect with soft shadows. No reflector was used but I could have been added just under the chin out of sight to help bring the shadow area out a little more for the eye line.



Here is an example of strong side lighting, still using natural light. I had Elaine stand fairly close to the window in the kitchen with a basic background to complement the composition. We can see the harder light area on the window side with a quick fall off of light on the right side of the image. I held a small reflector to help bring some of the light back onto the neck and hairline in the 1 o clock position.


Taken at night at a fun fair, this is an example of artificial light which is giving a strong colour cast. I didn’t remove the colour cast as the whole point is to see how the artificial light effects the skin tones. No reflector was used and the lights are situated above and to both side of Elaine’s face.


This image was taken close to a window with natural light, but the blinds were closed to help spread the light. Strong window light from the mid d ay sun is coming through the window, as can be seen be the light falling off in the rear of the image on the left shoulder and couch area. I think the fall off helps to bring the eye back to the brightest area which is the face. Given the choice I would opt for more images with various positions of the hand and have Elaine looking into different parts of the frame.


This was an interesting exercise and one I enjoyed to gain various effects of light and in different locations. I could have used the reflector more but wanted to try and use natural light as much as possible. I enjoyed adding images from different lighting sources from daylight and night.