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The Riley Shot – My little blog about taking good portraits.

Portraits – Beginners guide to taking a portrait of objects

Having been stuck in my house recently with no sign of my usual outdoor life happening any time soon, I decided to try learn more about studio photography, something that is well and truly out of my comfort zone. I was suitably going insane in the house and needed something small to do that could help my days go by. I decided to make a small black studio and use objects after been inspired by Sean Tucker’s Shadow Vlog recently, and his all round mastery at portraits. I am no professional like him, but it did give me a motivation to get blogging again and share what I learnt over the years. I was once given a great bit of advice, simply put, you can never really be a master of any trade, because they will always be something new to learn, this is so true of photography. I like to keep up to date by watching you tube pro’s like above, reading geeky other blogs on tech, as well as the old classic way by reading Nat Geo and other mags. Anyway, I am going to start a weekly blog from this week and try pass on things I have learnt.  Hopefully to share my work, chat about taking photos and what makes it facinating, and just do an all round photography blog.

I thought I would start small and take some objects, such as flowers and house decorations to photograph. This is what I came up with. I used a small black toy box, spent 2 hours combing the cat hair off it, then flooded it with light with my home studio lights, used a few home made reflectors to bounce the light back from the depth to ensure the background remained black and the object lit.

I have used real reflectors before but I honestly prefer tin foil, I literally take a tray and wrap tin foil around it, I then take two small boxes, like a paracetamol (which I have lots of at the moment) box and do the same. I then place the two small ones in the corner of the box behind the object and then practice with different level of light and reflect the light from the main reflector to one side of the object. I purposely left the shadows at the edge to try and create some drama to the shot. If you shoot in Raw, as I do, you can tweak the exposer without impacting quality and lower the blacks in edit to help create the mood that the object is appearing from the dark.

If you are wanting to learn more about focusing, taking a still object and trying a portrait shot like this, is a great way. I won’t go in to the focal points, focusing distance etc here, we can do that another time.  I think you should start with mastering the light, as we all know, light is number one in photography and if this is your first time trying something like this I don’t think you should complicate it by trying 5 different techniques, practice with the light, use your auto focus, maybe change the metering to spot mode (which again, happy to do another blog on later) and just have a play with how a simply reflection of light can make a picture stand out. This is a really simplistic way, but what I wanted to show is that it can be simple and not expensive and endless. So this is a few i took, I have mixed up (on purpose) the quality of the shots to help you have a mooch at.

This was my curve ball, as you may know I two little cats (@Bruce_and_Bee instagram) who like to follow me around, so after spending what felt like a life time cleaning it of cat hair, they immediately tried to jump in. After I had taken a fair few shots and thought I would embrace it, i hadn’t planned for this and to be honest I had fixed my focus on manual so it was luck over judgement. However,  waited for bee to stop licking every corner and she started to flick the floor with her paw and made this cool position which I love. I am planning on shooting a proper portrait of the cats soon and Ill let you know what I have learnt after that, but for now, this is Bee!


Cactus Full



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