Frame Fillers - How To

jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing itPosts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
edited February 26, 2015 in People
This is a shot that I often try to include in my senior portfolios. These show super well in wallet sized prints. Heatherfeather suggested I fess up on exactly how I do them. So....


Gear:
I currently shoot a Canon crop body (50d). I have found on shots of this type it is best to shoot them at least at a 50mm focal legth. For you full framers that equates to 80mm. The problem with using a wider lens...or shorter focal length is that it tends to distort the facial features. Of course a longer focal length can be use, if you have room to put it to use.

Both of these shot with the Canon 17-55F2.8IS lens and 50D camera at 50mm F3.5.
839541059_8qzxK-S.jpg835004418_XsvfV-S.jpg


Posing / Camera angle:
The easiest way to do the shot is to have the subject seated on the ground. If you remain standing for the shot, the angle allows the ground to be used as a backdrop. This is a super simple way to get an uncluttered backdrop. Brick pavers, concrete, grass, and even asphalt look great as a backdrop.

This first shot was with the Canon 50D and Canon 50mm F1.4 lens at F1.8. The second uses the Canon 17-55 F2.8IS lens.
683869777_ve4KV-S-1.jpg522388900_hcSZ4-S.jpg

Lighting:
This is the super easy part. I have never added any artificial light to shots of this type. To get great lighting all that is needed is the proper location. In late afternoon or early morning, get on the shaded side of a wall or building. With the subject looking up at you that big blue sky provides all the needed light. Midday? Get under a porch, overhang, or garage. Seat the subject near the edge of where the sunlit and shadowed area on the ground are adjacent to one another. Keep your subject in the shade but again...have them looking up at the bright blue sky.

Both shot with the Canon 50d and Canon 17-55 F2.8IS.
501735579_Z5kuq-S-1.jpg413611978_4PFDz-S-7.jpg


Composition:
You will have to shoot a few of these before you get comfortable with what works for you. I try to avoid centering and usually weigh my subject to one side or the other of the frame. I prefer it when I have lined up so that the head takes up roughly 2/3 of the width of the frame and the eyes are located roughly 1/3 from the top edge of the frame. Yes. The rule of thirds applies to portraiture.

This one takes a slightly different approach. Here, to use the blooming azalea shrubs as a backdrop the subject is standing and I have elevated myself on a step ladder. I recommend always having a 3 step ladder on hand for location shooting.

Canon 50d and Canon 50mm F1.4 lens at F2.0. Note the slither of white showing just under the iris of her eyes...shaped like a canoe.
832647792_kFyRv-M.jpg


The right subject:
This isn't for everyone. It takes a special sort of person to feel comfortable with a DSLR and a 77mm diameter lens just a few short feet from their face. Reserve these types of shots for those folks who are comfortable in front of the camera. Getting this close to a subject who is camera shy can onle make them more so. Don't be pushy!

Again, another variation. In this shot the subject is standing just inside an open garage door. The open shade, and light reflecting from the concrete apron in front of her act as a huge softbox. I have located myself on a step ladder at quite a distance away in order to utilize a long focal length. A nice compromise if you have a "camera shy" subject.

Canon 50d and Canon 70-200 F2.8 L IS at 200mm and F4.0.
1229572663_VoNow-M.jpg


I have found that the Canon 17-55 F2.8IS can give me reliably crisp images at any aperture at the distances required for these shots. It is THE lens to own for a Canon crop sensor camera. However, you don't have to own expensive gear to get the shot. This last shot was taken with a Canon 400d XTi and the Canon "nifty-fifty F1.8 lens.
738683290_7e8sN-M-1.jpg


It's all in the eyes:
Be aware that at least half of the subjects I have used this method with have had sensitive eyes. Asking them to keep looking at the sky (even though the sun is not in sight) while you fidget with lenses or camera settings is asking too much. Instead, get everyone in position and have them close their eyes until you are ready. Give them a three count to open their eyes and shoot the image on 4. Big WIDE open eyes look much better than a case of the squints. Also. experiment with tilting the chin to get the iris to just rest on the bottom eyelid...or go for the "canoe eyes" for that super feminine look.


Questions?

Comments?

Concerns?

Lets hear 'em....


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Comments

  • QarikQarik Krazy Korean Posts: 4,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 5, 2011
    that was a nice read. the 200m indeed does have different look then the 50mm though part of that is the angle I suppose
    D700, D600
    14-24 24-70 70-200mm (vr2)
    85 and 50 1.4
    45 PC and sb910 x2
    http://www.danielkimphotography.com
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 5, 2011
    Qarik wrote: »
    that was a nice read. the 200m indeed does have different look then the 50mm though part of that is the angle I suppose

    The longer focal lengths really compress the subject. And as you can imagine, at 200mm and F4.0 and at the distance that is near enough to fill the frame, anything more than a few feet distant in the background will be obliterated. Heavenly bokeh!thumb.gif
  • heatherfeatherheatherfeather Major grins Posts: 2,739Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Thanks Jeff! I was totally going to whine if you didn't share. This is very nicely written and your examples are gorgeous! (As is your custom.)
  • QarikQarik Krazy Korean Posts: 4,948Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    jeffreaux2 wrote: »
    The longer focal lengths really compress the subject. And as you can imagine, at 200mm and F4.0 and at the distance that is near enough to fill the frame, anything more than a few feet distant in the background will be obliterated. Heavenly bokeh!thumb.gif

    I just did some test shots of my wife face filling the frame with different focal lengths. on a full frame 35mm, it is very distorted(huge nose), at 70mm it is almost gone (nose is very close to normal size), at 100mm I would call it distortion free for all intents and purposes. I can't tell much difference between 200mm and 100mm. At 300mm the entire face is just an tiny bit more "compressed" then 100mm though I may be imagining that.

    So this was good excercise...now I know if I am filling up the frame with face, i want to be shooting at LEAST 70mm. And If I can get 100mm, then that would close enough to ideal. If I have space though..200mm. I *get* that now.
    D700, D600
    14-24 24-70 70-200mm (vr2)
    85 and 50 1.4
    45 PC and sb910 x2
    http://www.danielkimphotography.com
  • eoren1eoren1 Major grins Posts: 2,391Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Thanks Jeff!
    Can't wait to try this on my two little ones...
  • reyvee61reyvee61 Major grins Posts: 1,877Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Jeff this is a great read and food for thought...thank you :D
    Yo soy Reynaldo
  • reyvee61reyvee61 Major grins Posts: 1,877Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Qarik wrote: »
    I just did some test shots of my wife face filling the frame with different focal lengths. on a full frame 35mm, it is very distorted(huge nose), at 70mm it is almost gone (nose is very close to normal size), at 100mm I would call it distortion free for all intents and purposes. I can't tell much difference between 200mm and 100mm. At 300mm the entire face is just an tiny bit more "compressed" then 100mm though I may be imagining that.

    So this was good excercise...now I know if I am filling up the frame with face, i want to be shooting at LEAST 70mm. And If I can get 100mm, then that would close enough to ideal. If I have space though..200mm. I *get* that now.

    Mine is the 85 1.4 on a D700...nothing beats it in natural light or studio portrait work....brilliant piece of glass.
    Yo soy Reynaldo
  • MitchellMitchell Major grins Posts: 3,483Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Jeff, thanks for posting your thoughts and techniques. I found this to be a very helpful read and the photos were a fine addition to the commentary.

    These all look like they would make great wallet sized prints. By filling the image with the face, you really maximize the impact in a small area. Your lighting, as always, is excellent.

    I tend to photograph a lot of children (my own, neighbors, friends, etc...). This technique is not always as flattering for young children. While it is a nice way to provide a great, clutterless background with what is on the ground or floor, it tends to make the children look even smaller and awkward when you shoot down on them.

    For example, I don't care for this shot and angle:
    201780761_i8nRt-M.jpg

    Children tend to have a much better appearance when you shoot at their level or slightly below.

    I prefer this where I shot slightly upwards at this little guy:
    527150868_HPodG-M.jpg

    Any other comments about this?

    I like your comments regarding focal length, but this too is a limitation with this technique. Unless you start climbing on ladders, it's hard to shoot at much more than 100mm even with a full frame camera. Folks need to be careful to not shoot to close or wide which will produce quite a bit of facial distortion.

    Great read, Jeff.
  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,019Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Great shots; great thread.

    I think the problem I have achieving this kind of shot - I've pulled it off once or twice, but never as consistently a I'd like - is making sure I'm not TOO high (and that will vary person-to-person which is what makes it tricky for me). I shoot with 50mm+ glass anyway so that's not the issue, but I still wind up a bit too close and a bit toohigh and thus can get the "bobblehead" effect:

    1172199551_uYp9z-M.jpg

    Question, Jeff: what sort of apertures are you usually using? One of the other things I find tricky about this is ensuring enough DOF that both eyes are tack sharp, but it still melts away into the hair and body. I usually err on the side of shooting too open, so if the subject's eyes aren't square to me I lose the sharpness I want.

    Definitely not as easy to achieve as you make it sound! thumb.gif
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Qarik wrote: »
    I just did some test shots of my wife face filling the frame with different focal lengths. on a full frame 35mm, it is very distorted(huge nose), at 70mm it is almost gone (nose is very close to normal size), at 100mm I would call it distortion free for all intents and purposes. I can't tell much difference between 200mm and 100mm. At 300mm the entire face is just an tiny bit more "compressed" then 100mm though I may be imagining that.

    So this was good excercise...now I know if I am filling up the frame with face, i want to be shooting at LEAST 70mm. And If I can get 100mm, then that would close enough to ideal. If I have space though..200mm. I *get* that now.


    Hmmmm....

    I dunno if I should believe any of this....rolleyes1.gif

    You should come back and post those photos Q!:D ... Make me a believer!!!

    ...and yes 35mm on a full frame is gonna cause big time distortion at that range.thumb.gif
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Thanks Jeff! I was totally going to whine if you didn't share. This is very nicely written and your examples are gorgeous! (As is your custom.)


    Okay this is weird. I read all of this in your voice. Accent and everything. The "As is your custom" came off very Alaskanesque. rolleyes1.gif
  • zoomerzoomer Major grins Posts: 3,688Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Good stuff, appreciate the time you spent on this. Love that type of shot. I love using the 200 for them.
    Just an adder if I may....on the seated shots be on the look out for the shoulder slouch.
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Mitchell wrote: »
    I tend to photograph a lot of children (my own, neighbors, friends, etc...). This technique is not always as flattering for young children. While it is a nice way to provide a great, clutterless background with what is on the ground or floor, it tends to make the children look even smaller and awkward when you shoot down on them.



    Children tend to have a much better appearance when you shoot at their level or slightly below.

    Any other comments about this?

    I like your comments regarding focal length, but this too is a limitation with this technique. Unless you start climbing on ladders, it's hard to shoot at much more than 100mm even with a full frame camera. Folks need to be careful to not shoot to close or wide which will produce quite a bit of facial distortion.

    Great read, Jeff.


    All great points Mitchell and I have another.

    ...and boy this is an oldie....from my very first paid shoot.

    I was using the 50mmF1.8 back then and this was the first shot of the day. I got the feeling that for her facial structure that 50mm was too short and put me too close to her....the near distance causing her eyes to appear crossed.

    160745322_Epz3M-M.jpg

    A bit more distance is preferred. Of course neither one of these are "frame- fillers". Also, Try as I might, I don't get as excited about the typical portrait oriented fillers. I like 'em in the landscape format. That is just me though and is certainly subjective.

    160745515_s6Zf6-M.jpg

    If things go as planned I may get a chance to shoot some neighborhood children this week. Many of our new neighbors have young children and there is a HOA organized egg hunt on Saturday.

    Ill have to take your advice on the shooting angles. Iv'e done very little work with kids who havent reached their teens yet!
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    divamum wrote: »
    Great shots; great thread.

    I think the problem I have achieving this kind of shot - I've pulled it off once or twice, but never as consistently a I'd like - is making sure I'm not TOO high (and that will vary person-to-person which is what makes it tricky for me). I shoot with 50mm+ glass anyway so that's not the issue, but I still wind up a bit too close and a bit toohigh and thus can get the "bobblehead" effect:



    Question, Jeff: what sort of apertures are you usually using? One of the other things I find tricky about this is ensuring enough DOF that both eyes are tack sharp, but it still melts away into the hair and body. I usually err on the side of shooting too open, so if the subject's eyes aren't square to me I lose the sharpness I want.

    Definitely not as easy to achieve as you make it sound! thumb.gif


    Nice example Diva...

    Yup I do the bobbleheads now and then too. I think the trick there is to be sure you arent so much over their head. Rotate around til you are a bit more in front of rather than over your subject. Cropping into the forehead...and flipping the camera to landscape (to minimize the shoulders and body) will improve the look.

    Apertures...heck Ill try anything once!

    It really depends on the lens though. Although I don't know if any of my lenses would know how to behave stopped down more than F4.0.rolleyes1.gif

    The 17-55 F2.8IS is tack sharp, consistantly, and I know that I can get sufficient focus on both eyes at F2.8 with this type of framing. Several of the examples I found used that lens and a 3.5 aperture.

    I prefer to use the 70-200 at F4.0 - ish for work this close in. There probably isnt much difference between F4 and F8 at that focal length and distance though. I did some lens testing when I first got it and was micro-adjusting. 200mm at the close focus distance and F2.8 gives only a very thin slither of focus. Ive never risked that on a tight portrait. I do use it often wide open for more traditional framing.

    The 50mm F1.4 is altogether different. I only use it when I feel like going super thin and dreamy. Without the stabilization it has no chance of being as sharp and dependable as the 17-55 at 2.8 and smaller. But the 17-55 wont go to 2.0 or 1.8. So it's a speacialty sorta thing for me. I break it out when Im feeling lucky!rolleyes1.gif This close in...at F1.8 or 2.0 provides a VERY VERY thin DOF. It's super easy to miss focus on one eye or the other.

    The lens test shot for the 70-200.
    277313913_HRbTp-XL-3.jpg
  • zoomerzoomer Major grins Posts: 3,688Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Love love that test shot.
    I am with you Jeff....my lenses may as well not have apertures smaller than f4 :).
  • briandelionbriandelion Grin Reaper Posts: 512Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    This is a gold mine of great advice. Thanks so much.
    "Photography is not about the thing photographed.
    It is about how that thing looks photographed." Garry Winogrand


    Avatar credit: photograph by Duane Michals- picture of me, 'Smash Palace' album
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    zoomer wrote: »
    Love love that test shot.
    I am with you Jeff....my lenses may as well not have apertures smaller than f4 :).

    I'm liable to stop down to F16 one day for a landscape shot and learn that my cameras have crap all over the sensors.

    I'd never know!rolleyes1.gif
  • JSPhotographyJSPhotography Major grins Posts: 552Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Great stuff everybody, thank you
  • divamumdivamum Major grins Posts: 9,019Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    What is this f8 of which people speak? headscratch.gif ne_nau.gif rolleyes1.gif

    I'm with you - to me, "f4" is stopped WAY down (I seem to shoot at 2.2-3.5 a lot, according to my exifs) thumb.gif
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    divamum wrote: »
    What is this f8 of which people speak? headscratch.gif ne_nau.gif rolleyes1.gif

    I'm with you - to me, "f4" is stopped WAY down (I seem to shoot at 2.2-3.5 a lot, according to my exifs) thumb.gif


    Another thing to consider, is that in general a lens doesn't exactly "shine" at the ends of its aperture range. That is to say...it will provide much better image quality a few stops from its minimum or maximum aperture. It's safe to say that you should be getting the really good "stuff" out of your hard earned glass at F3.5 to F4.0. deal.gif

    My Canon 17-55 though is an exception IMO. It is as sharp wide open as it is at any other aperture(or at least seems to be). It is money in the bank when I cant afford to miss.
  • IcebearIcebear Major grins Posts: 4,015Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Once again, I spend time reading Jeff's stuff and come away a much better prepared photographer. Thank you, sir!
    John :
    Natural selection is responsible for every living thing that exists.
    D3s, D500, D5300, and way more glass than the wife knows about.
  • metmet Packer Backer Posts: 405Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Great read, Jeff! That's one of my favorite types of portraits as well. I rarely shoot teens though. Most of my subjects are little kids and like Mitch said - they usually photograph better from not quite so high. But I did have one that worked out, but she was older than a toddler. And I find that younger kids are less camera conscious and more willing to let you get all up in their grill. I shoot most of mine with the 50 1.8.


    We were both standing and our height difference provided just the little bit I needed to shoot down on her.

    713092677_WwKza-L.jpg


    With smaller children, I usually tend to crouch and go a little more straight on.

    774080692_2rhwn-L.jpg
  • IcebearIcebear Major grins Posts: 4,015Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 6, 2011
    Molly, those are wonderful.
    John :
    Natural selection is responsible for every living thing that exists.
    D3s, D500, D5300, and way more glass than the wife knows about.
  • adbsgicomadbsgicom Texas-Sized Grins Posts: 3,615Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 7, 2011
    Jeff, thanks for the pointers and behind-the-scenes info.... Really enjoying the thread of images here...

    Oddly, I just did that same angle with my daughter for her 12-YO shot; pretty much the first time in a long time...

    1243240412_idkFH-XL.jpg

    back to packing....
    - Andrew

    Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.
    My SmugMug Site
  • DavidTODavidTO Mod Emeritus Posts: 19,160Administrators moderator
    edited April 7, 2011
    jeffreaux2 wrote: »
    The longer focal lengths really compress the subject. And as you can imagine, at 200mm and F4.0 and at the distance that is near enough to fill the frame, anything more than a few feet distant in the background will be obliterated. Heavenly bokeh!thumb.gif


    Have you ever tried using an extension tube to up the bokeh? I use that for shooting flowers, and never thought about shooting an actual person with it, but while on a recent outing I was showing Travis the extension tube and snapped this one quickly.

    I don't hold it up against any of yours, just saying I was surprised. Of course, I'm limited to f4 on that lens, so maybe it's just making up the difference to 1.4 or 2.8. ne_nau.gif

    5DMII, 70-200 f4L at 109mm & f4, 12mm extension tube.

    1238321593_YXhVB-L.jpg
    Moderator Emeritus
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  • jimqjrjimqjr Major grins Posts: 250Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 7, 2011
    Thanks for the post Jeff.
    It will take me closer to I think better pictures.
    Maybe this Sunday?
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 7, 2011
    Molly and Andrew....your examples are great. Very nicely done!thumb.gif

    Thanks for sharing them.


    ...Andrew...

    a bit of c&c on yours...

    Is that a clasp for her necklace I see? ne_nau.gif
    You should make it routine to look for those kinds of things before you pull the trigger. Lint, stray hairs, clothing tags, bra straps, etc...all fall into the same catagory and should become part of your pre shot check over.thumb.gif
  • jeffreaux2jeffreaux2 Grinning...and bearing it Posts: 4,761Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 7, 2011
    DavidTO wrote: »
    Have you ever tried using an extension tube to up the bokeh? I use that for shooting flowers, and never thought about shooting an actual person with it, but while on a recent outing I was showing Travis the extension tube and snapped this one quickly.

    I don't hold it up against any of yours, just saying I was surprised. Of course, I'm limited to f4 on that lens, so maybe it's just making up the difference to 1.4 or 2.8. ne_nau.gif

    5DMII, 70-200 f4L at 109mm & f4, 12mm extension tube.

    David,

    I saw that shot in the post where you guys all shared pics of the trip. I thought it was a fun shot and then read the note where you stated you had used a tube.

    Im not well versed on macro gear but my understanding is that an extension tube will allow a lens to focus closer than it is designed to focus. Your 70-200 F4 normally has a close focus distance of ~ 4 feet, but the use of the tube allows it to focus much closer. I am pretty sure though...that what is sacrificed to achieve this is the ability to focus at long distances. I may be wrong there...maybe a macro guru can correct me. In any event....what matters is that at 109mm you were able to get a frame filling shot. If he was fairly close to you (~4 feet?) then I can see where all the bokeh comes from. After all....the nearer you can get to a subject the shallower the DOF at a given aperture...right.

    Its a cool shot!....a keeper for sure!

    ...and no...I don't own any macro gear, so Ive never tried a shot like yours but...

    In my rush to get into TLR photography last year I also purchased accessory lenses. I was able to win an auction on a genuine Yashica wide angle and telephoto sets. Both of them pristine and in their original boxes. The telephoto set had never even been used and was still sealed in plastic with silica gel packs. I was sure that the telephoto set would be the ticket for great looking medium format portraits with that camera but I was mistaken. In fact...mounting and using the telephoto lens seems to have little or no effect at compressing or adding bokeh. Im not even sure it does anything....rolleyes1.gif at ALL.

    What I really need though...as I later found out...is a close up adapter.....they come in differing strengths....+1, +2, +3, and+4. These will allow the ability to focus the camera at closer range than it was designed. Right now...the closest I can focus will frame up about a waist up shot on a grown man. The adapters will allow moving closer...even to head and shoulders. Im sure the bokeh would show itself then.

    TLRs are tough for macro work though...due to parallax inherent in their twin lens design. There are ways around that too though. :D
  • christinamaechristinamae Major grins Posts: 484Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 10, 2011
    Thank you for this thread! I'm very new to portrait photography and these "how to" posts are really helpful!

    I talked my husband into posing for me. Feedback is appreciated!

    1244122316_cy4ki-M.jpg
  • Bryce WilsonBryce Wilson Wants More Glass Posts: 1,586Registered Users Major grins
    edited April 10, 2011
    I have a 105mm macro that I never use any more. I think I'll have to break it out and give this style a try. I'll post one when I do.

    Thanks for the detailed instructions!
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