Head Shots in B+W

A guard and escort during Much Ado About Nothing, Summer 2014

A guard and escort during Much Ado About Nothing, Summer 2014

Hermia, from A Midsummer Night's Dream in summer 2013

Hermia, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in summer 2013

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I am heavily involved in a local amateur theatre group called ACT (a community theatre.)  For the past few years – when I’m not already involved producing, or doing props or working front-of-house – I’ve been called upon to photograph shows – rehearsals, head shots for the programme, and the dress rehearsal.

My head shot technique for multiple photos is simple. Pentax K20D on a tripod with a 50mm Pentax lens (75 on a crop sensor). Station the subject in open shade with a tree line far enough back to be out of focus and focus on the eyes. ISO 200 (lowest on the Pentax), 1/90-1/125 second at f 4.5-f 5.6. I shoot them from both sides (a 1/8 profile?) and straight on; everyone seems to have a best side.  I take about 20 shots of each person and reduce them to three each before I start processing.

I convert them to black and white, use a square format, and drop the clarity down a notch to even out the skin. The rest of the adjustments are minor, a bit more contrast here, a few more highlights there, and I adjust the individual colour sliders to fade the green background or make the clothing support the face above it. These are two of my favourites, one from 2013, one from 2014.

Ben Rowe of Aperture 64 challenged me to post a black and white photo per day for five days and to challenge five other bloggers to do the same.  This is Day 4.


10 comments on “Head Shots in B+W

  1. Very lovely photos.

  2. BuntyMcC says:

    Thank you, I’m quite proud of the work I’ve done with the head shots for our theatre group.

  3. Really nice portraits .. Thanks too for the info

  4. BuntyMcC says:

    Glad you like them.

  5. Jean says:

    I’m sure the subjects of portraits were thrilled with your results. A real gift for them.

    • BuntyMcC says:

      A few have used them as Facebook covers but no one has so far asked for a print. I guess selfies have become the waynto go!

      • Jean says:

        Or maybe the subjects didn’t want to pay for a print. Hope you’re wrong that general public can’t appreciate fine portrait photos.

        • BuntyMcC says:

          I’m an amateur and donate my services to the community theatre group. I don’t mind that people use the digital files as my name is on them. But nobody seems to print anything these days (and I’m as guilty as anyone!)

          • Jean says:

            So maybe the “sad” trend for the future far out is that instead of wedding photos, people will only run slide shows of the very best digital shots from a tv screen.

            When my partner’s mother was in a nursing home before she died, he bought a digital little screen that ran good photos of favourite places, things and people. Think of your art that way..stuffing more of it for a short sequence.

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