Portraiture in sunlight, Circular Pol or not?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Simplicius, Jul 30, 2018.

  1. Simplicius

    Simplicius Subscriber

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    I am at an event this weekend, planning on bringing my Hasselblad to photograph friends, the sun will be strong, the forecast is clear skies. This is my plan and any ideas are welcome as portraits are a new departure for me.

    Hasselblad CM with 100mm Planar on Tripod with hood.
    Portra 160 or 400 (preferably 160)
    Head and shoulders shots only. so hope to shoot wide open of f/4 to lose the background. Make a series of the event is the aspiration.
    Subjects are not 21-year-old aspiring models but adults aged 35 -55 with all the usual signs of life.

    I will wait until it is lower in the sky and use it on one side of the subject. Maybe I will use a silver reflector I have to bounce light on the opposite side of the subjects faces and get a more balanced shot.

    This much I am happy about.

    I have read in a few places on the internet that a circular polariser is great in these circumstances as it softens the glare from skin and reflection and improves tones. This makes sense. I also read it soften flaws on the skin, as it is the dimples, pockmarks, wrinkles etc give the surface lots of little places to reflect thus highlighting them and a circular polarise will reduce this effect. I would like these shots to be real but still as flattering as possible. Taking pictures of ladies in their forties is a tightrope walk over broken glass and as I have no photoshop skills or interest, I want to make the negs as good as possible.

    Any tips warmly welcome.
     
  2. TheMissingLink

    TheMissingLink Member

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    Simplicius,

    be prepared to loose the contrast in the mid tones with the filter and the skin will probably look dump and like a peace of chalk, living skin needs all these fine reflections!

    Try to reduce the contrast either with a flash oder with a reflector if you can't find shodow somewhere. If you don't have a reflector use a plate of styropor.

    horst.
     
  3. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I would skip the polarizing filter and take one frame with no filter and one with a Softar. They come in different strengths but it sounds like you might want to use the weakest since you are not stopping down the lens.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  4. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Softar 1 or the like. Your subjects will appreciate it.
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    People often say "circular polarizer" when they actually mean "polarizer". A circular polarizer is a special version needed in certain camera metering systems. The effect on the image would be the same as with a standard polarizer.

    The effect of a polarizer is very dependant on athe angular situation, though with the rounded surface of the face you likely will have some effect under diffeent angles ,butz never a total effect.
    Itb is the first time I hear of a polarizer being advocated for portraits (letting aside glare from glasses).
     
  6. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Aside glasses, the only other reason might be to pull the exposure down... since shooting wide open in full sun is the stated goal.

    I can’t imag where on the internet a polarizing filter is advocated for softening skin.
     
  7. tedr1

    tedr1 Member

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    You didn't ask but here's some advice anyway: direct sunlight casts hard shadows all over the face which are very distracting, rather than try to fill them simply have the subject turn with their back to the sun, this will illuminate the face with diffuse daylight which casts no hard shadows, this may give satisfactory results. Before the shoot try it yourself with a small bright spotlight on a face, then compare with diffuse light, "chalk and cheese."
     
  8. spijker

    spijker Subscriber

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  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I love the 100mm lens. My recommendations:
    1. Leave the 100mm lens at home, use the 80mm, 150mm or 180mm.
    2. Use a Softar 1, 2 or 3 filter.
    3. Leave the polarizer at home.
    4. When printing, put a stocking between the enlarger lens and the paper and keep the stocking moving to remove wrinkles.
    5. If there are a lot of wrinkles, when doing #4 fold the stocking over several times and use a cigarette to burn holes in the stocking for the eyes.
     
  10. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    The nice thing about polarizers is that you can look through it and see the effect immediately. If you like it, use it; if you don't, don't.
    Use a reflector, shade, fill-flash or a combination to control contrast.

    Doremus
     
  11. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Another way to diffuse when printing is to get two pieces of 1/4 inch glass (tape the edges so as not to get cut) and put a small amount of baby oil between them. Focus sharply first then hold the glass sandwich under the lens. Move the pieces of glass over each other and up and down under the enlarging lens until you see the desired look. Make your test prints for exposure. The amount of oil and diffusion is adjustable.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  12. Kodachromeguy

    Kodachromeguy Subscriber

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    Hi, I agree with the other writers: it is rare to use a polarizer for a portrait. Polarizers are used to reduce glare from certain types of reflective surfaces or enhance the blue of a blue sky and make colors appear more "pure." The usual application is for landscapes or technical work. And don't fall for that circular polarizer marketing. A regular linear polarizer is all you need for a Hasselblad. Cheers and have fun.
     
  13. benveniste

    benveniste Subscriber

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    For the conditions you describe, you're probably looking at an EV value of 12 to 14. With Portra 160 at f/4, that means you're flirting with overexposure even at a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second, and Portra 400 will likely be overexposed. A polarizer (circular or not) might help, but using a 3-stop neutral density filter would be "safer" both in terms predictability and available shutter speed.

    I'll mostly agree with the others in this thread; for a straight head-and-shoulders shot a polarizer adds very little. However, for outdoor couples portraiture, full (or near full) body shots, and environmental portrait I do find a polarizer valuable, since a lot more of the background is visible.
     
  14. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    A circular polarizer is called for if you are using a metering prism on most cameras including Hasselblads.
     
  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    It depends.
    Cameras that use a beam splitter in the metering system usually need a circular polarizer to meter properly.
    Auto-focus cameras often use a beam splitter as well, so they need a circular polarizer to focus accurately.
    If you have more than one camera system, and at least one of them requires a circular polarizer, and you want to use a polarizer on all of them, it makes sense to buy a circular polarizer.
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Even better, make a home-brew diffuser to put between your subject and your light source - the cheap way to do it would be an old, threadbare white bedsheet stretched over a picture frame, then clamped to a light stand. The higher-budget way is to buy one of those collapsible diffusion discs that can also be used as a reflector with the proper cover installed. The diffusion will also help tame the light so you're not at risk of overexposure of your subject, but unless you photograph a background that is in shade, you may have a brighter background than you want. Options, options.
     
  17. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    And that is why I used the word "most". One should RTFM for their equipment.
     
  18. OP
    OP
    Simplicius

    Simplicius Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the great advice,
    I am flying to this location for other reasons, the portraits are not the primary purpose and with airlines, space is a premium with European airlines and hand baggage so I am limited.

    I only own currently the 100mm F3.5 Planar T for my Hasselblad so alternative lenses are not an option and I am finding my way around it.

    I tried this portrait experiment once before with Portra 400, handheld and a circular pol in bright sunlight on the coast near Porto in Portugal same type of people. here are three examples, the audience will be similar this weekend. I did also in the meantime manage also to get two shots of where this weekend's location is and it is south facing across a wide boulevard so even into the evening the sun will get through. See below.

    My current thinking is, skip the circular polarizer , stand subjects by a column, using it to put them is the softer diffused light and get a 'volunteer to hold up above their head a collapsible circular bouncer I have that is silver one side and gold the other. and this time I will have a tripod so can happily use 160. try to shoot at f5.6 and have columns drift off behind subject to hint at grandeur of location.

    Any more thoughts, welcome and thank too to those who sent private messages. I already feel so much more aware of what I need to do.

    Previous attempt
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This weekend's location in Warsaw,

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. btaylor

    btaylor Subscriber

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    Whatever you did for the shot of the two women on shot #2, do that! It looks like there was something reflective near the camera that gave you that nice fill, and the angle of the sun models them nicely. I find that even having someone very close by with a white jacket or a light colored wall can throw some nice fill and reduce harsh contrast.
     
  20. Kodachromeguy

    Kodachromeguy Subscriber

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    If you look at the genuine Hasselblad brand polarizers, the ones with bayonet mounts, they are linear polarizers.
     
  21. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Subscriber

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    I don't know about Hasselblads, or if they have multi-pattern/3D metering, but with the majority of cameras out there with evaluative/multi-pattern/matrix-3D...etc meters, only a circular polariser can be used at the risk otherwise of distorting the light and thus influencing the meter's algorithm leading to (chiefly) underexposure, but sometimes gross over-exposure too. On simple SLRs with straight, mean-weighted averaging TTL meters a circular polariser is freely interchangeable with linear. For years I have used a top-level B+W KSM circular polariser on my vintage Pentax 67; the rudimentary TTL meter on this camera does not specifically require a C-POL. But the same filter (and others) are also used on a Canon EOS 1N, which certainly does require a circular polariser.

    Having said that, polariser + portraiture are not words I normally see used in the same sentence. No harm in experimenting, but it is an unorthodox treatment in portraiture.
     
  22. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Shooting portraits in bright sunlight is challenging the best advice I can give is that you try to avoid shooting the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest and try to get your sitter into any shade that is available to avoid the strong shadows that bright sunlight casts and if possible try to wait until later in the day the sun is lower in the sky..
     
  23. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    The back-lit photos in post #18 could be better with a weak fill flash. An automatic flash set within the range of 1 to 2 stops weaker than the main exposure would be about right. Some experimentation is required to find the amount that you find most pleasing.

    Used with discretion, adding weak fill flash lights the eye sockets, makes the face visible, and adds just a touch of “sparkle” to the eyes, but dosen’t scream “FLASH.” Such a flash is small, light, and uses little space in an equipment bag. It’s a useful tool to add to your portrait kit in backlit lighting.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Yes, but one was not available at the time so I bought Heliopan.
     
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