Just up to my into.
Thought I’d pause for a moment to ruminate, though, on the nature of what works and doesn’t in the lens.
Now I can’t take a studio shot to save my life. This is not often true. Many, and I mean many, photographers are just brilliant at portrait pics. Well, I’ve never really tried it; I don’t have the portraiture background and I don’t have the controlled umbrellas and flash lighting that you need to make it all work.
Besides, it’s all so … stiff. Posed. So it’s not my thing.
I think that’s probably all right. My time lensing, after all, has yielded results such as this and this. I seem to have a knack for grabbing subjects, putting them in ambient space, and saying, now stand like this … think happy thoughts … done.
(Actually it’s more often like see it, grab it before the subject knows it’s happening. Reflexes, I guess.)
Relevance is the latest round from this kid. I’ve known him a couple years, and he’s a senior in HS now, and his mom asked me to do my thing for one more go-round. (He has plans to basically escape, as fast and as far as he can, when he turns eighteen. Good for him.)
I had that one in mind; I wanted the idea of the dark framing and light background. Grabbed that by chance with a 60-degree bounce flash.* Still, I’m pleased with the effect.
Now I have to tell you that the subject does make a difference. This is a handsome young man, all of seventeen, and you can hear the sighs when he walks down the street. He’s cute, damn cute, in a way many other boys are not. Being photogenic helps.
So, you know, this.
He’s not famous, but he looks like he should be.
This is why, when you’re doing outdoor or candid portrait pics, you blow a massive number of frames on nothing much at all. I got 2 out of 80 frames, on average, that were, you know, good. The others were decent, but of the day’s effort, 30 or so were really worth holding on to, most of those because they were in odd poses or varying backdrops.**
Some of it is the equipment. A 2 MP phone camera isn’t all that hot. Some of it is having the right setting; studio or au naturel, whatever. Some of it is knowing and trusting your gear. Some of it is having the eye. But a hell of a lot of it is rapport. We had that. So we made this, and the other things we’ve made.
What makes a good candid or nature portrait? Well, I guess, all of those things put together. Like getting to Carnegie Hall. Practice, man, practice.
* No joke. Nikon D40, with the cheap Speedlight on the hot shoe. When it works, why argue, or drop $500 into flashes you don’t need?
** I know, digital photography makes it all seem like a cheat, because you can just take pictures all day long. Did you know that Nikon had a speed-winder in the 80s that advanced film through a camera at the rate of 5 frames per second? Shoot hundreds of frames, pick the best one percent: This is not a new idea. Difference is it costs a hell of a lot less now.
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