A different kind of question, photo critique requested

Bob Hubbard

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As many know, I'm a photographer as well as web geek. This past weekend I did some test shoots and wanted to get some feedback from experienced sword practitioners on how I can improve them in the future.

Thank you.
:asian:

Thumbnails are below, please click for a full view.


Deadly Visions I


Kocho no kamae
 

Infinite

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Ok I know nothing of photography but my 2 cents.
So the good
Very pretty girl :) always a bonus.
Great color scheme I really liked how it all fell together.
Good poses strong sense of perspective.

Ok so detractors or rather things I noticed:

On the full body shot the contrast is once again really stark. Only against her pale skin however on the thigh. Then you have some interesting shadows across the face. The shadows on the face almost make it look a bit fuzzy or something it really draws my eyes away from the total shot.


On the closeup shot with the eyes the shadows on the blade draw out the white in her face and makes a very stark contrast. I didn't particularly think it was favorable but that might have been the goal. This has to do mostly with the white not being soft enough off of her skin. Its like a STARK hospital white not a soft pearl white.



Otherwise those are very fine photographs.
 

CoryKS

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For a picture called 'Deadly Visions", she seems kinda smiley. Good photos, though.
 

Cryozombie

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The sword looks cheap. Susan looks good tho.

:D
 

pgsmith

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This past weekend I did some test shoots and wanted to get some feedback from experienced sword practitioners on how I can improve them in the future.
Hey Bob,
Nice photos! Sexy lady and swords are a good combination in my book! However, you asked for ways to improve them from a sword practitioner perspective, so here are my two main beefs with pictures of this sort. Please bear in mind that these are found in virtually all pictures of this type ...
1) Holding the sword like a baseball bat. The Japanese sword is NOT, under most circumstances, held with all ten fingers like a baseball bat. The index finger and thumb are held loosely, enabling the wrist and arm to enter at a 45 degree rather than a 90 degree angle. This won't be a factor for the vast majority of people, but it is a glaring error for anyone with sword experience.
2) That's a godawful ugly sword! :) The fact that it's obviously a cheap wallhanger sword subtracts from the picture. As in my first comment, it probably won't be a factor for the majority of people, but is a glaring error for those of us that practice the sword.

P.S. I'd be more than happy to see any more you take! :)
 

Solidman82

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I'm partial to a shallower depth of field and a wider frame. Also, get some lighs and play with shadows a little bit more. Cold steel blue gels would bring a good feeling to the pic (as well as the name befitting it).

Show more pics, I'm sure you didn't just take two pictures. I do like the dynamic angles used so far though.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Thank you for the feed back, it's greatly appreciated.
Just cleaned this one up a bit. The backgrounds spotty so please ignore that part.

This is one of the unposted shots. We took around 50 total.
 

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BlackCatBonz

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what are you using in your setup, Bob?
You seem to be lacking in the light department.
What are you using for flashes?
 

Blindside

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Thank you for the feed back, it's greatly appreciated.
Just cleaned this one up a bit. The backgrounds spotty so please ignore that part.

This is one of the unposted shots. We took around 50 total.

It doesn't look like she is gripping the blade correctly, the blade looks like it is aligned with the main knuckles, and would be completely useless to swing that way. I think matching the angle of the sword to the lead arm would help composition a bit, give the picture two lines in symmetry, right now her lead hand is just a touch too high for that.

Of the first two pics posted, I prefered kocho no kamae better. It was simple and clean. "Deadly Visions" felt busy, and the contrasting angles of the leg, arms, and sword didn't work for me. I also felt like the object of the picture was her hip, which is fine, but then you've got this distracting sword thingee in the background.

Just my opinion, I suck at studio and portrait photography though.

Lamont
 
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Bob Hubbard

Bob Hubbard

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what are you using in your setup, Bob?
You seem to be lacking in the light department.
What are you using for flashes?
AlienBee 1600w light with 47" octabox
23ws Remote flash

Lighting was lacking. Had 2 hotlights that, well, weren't working too hot, lol.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Last saturdays lighting setup. I need some backlighting.
 

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Infinite

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I was thinking of traditional sword strikes that would be good for photo op.

The biggest one of course is a motion shot I think that would be nearly impossible if you didn't know how to do it.

Ala jump downward strike :)

HOWEVER what if you put her in the starting position? line the blade with the tip of her eyes and shoot slightly downward to capture the centerline.

I wonder if that is descriptive enough... I was think you could go darker there more of a black lotus feel and the lights wouldn't be as big as an issue.
 

Don Roley

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On the last photo you posted....

Can you tell me what that left arm is doing out there? It kind of resembles a stance I know called Dato no Kamae, but there are some rather important differences.

And the rear foot. To move from where she is, she would have to move the foot to gain traction and only then be able to attack or avoid. That would give the other guy a signal as to her moving before she could. The leg too is also stretched out a bit and limits where she can go without taking the time to reposition it. Most kneeling stances I can think of keep the feet pretty much close under the hips so that you can step to pretty much any point on the compass around you.

Unless of course this is one of the times that you are trying to lure a person in or fool them in some way.

Good points include that she is keeping her back straight instead of hunched over. And of course, she is a good model.

It is a good photograph and more people will apprectiate it as is than could see the points I make. But you did ask.
 

Jonathan Randall

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Bob,

from a technical standpoint as a photographer, I think you are ready for prime-time. I've known, and worked with, independent contractor photographers who were extremely economically successful with much less skill than you now have. My advice: start advertising your services in the "Penny Saver" and anywhere else where parents (and grandparents!) might look.
 

Sukerkin

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Hi Bob

Always good to see photography aimed at a target audience - pretty girls with swords is never going to be an unpopular subject around here :D.

The factors others have mentioned are ones I would have picked at if I was feeling in Koryu-purist mode but there are a few good points to build on too (tho' the 'prop' is distractingly bad I do have to say).

For a start, it is usual in such shots for the sword to look too heavy for the girl - that is not so in this case and, altho' those of us in the JSA can find fault, she holds the blade with confidence (which is the important thing in such pictures (plus let's face it, if we wanted to we can pick fault with almost anyones swordword/stances :D)).

On lighting, the set-up was good for isolating the subject from the background but you might want to try bouncing the flash(s) off different metallic films suspended above to see what colour and shadow effects you can get to play with.

My missus is a professionally trained photographer (letters after your name kind of deal) so if there's any way you reckon she might be able to advise you, please feel free to pass questions on {not intimating in the slightest that you need advice by the way :blush:}.
 

DavidCC

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I would make 'Kocho no kamae' my desktop wall paper but my wife would not be pleased. That is a great shot.

-D
 

arnisador

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I'm not so crazy about the first one is framed/cropped, but I really like the second one. The third one--I'm not sure. I think the angle doesn't work so well there.
 

Cryozombie

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Somthing that I have found, Bob, (and others who are commenting) when doing posed shots with my sword is that often "Correct" posture won't look right to the photographer... causing weird shadows or maybe details to be hidden... I had a pic posted as an avatar for a while and one comment I kept getting was that my hands were reveresed... I had to keep explaining thats how I was posed, it wasn't meant to be accurate as far as technique goes... and thats true of most of the sword shots, and even a few of my posed stances... all were adjusted by the photographer to enhance the photograph to the photographers liking...

So consider before you shoot what you are going for... and decide if you want perfect stances and then adjust your camera angles, lighting etc for that, or if you want some dynamic details to stand out and then pose accordingly...

I think its hard to get both without a LOT of time.

Now... do some action shots of Susan fighting off a bunch of opponents.

:D
 
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Bob Hubbard

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One of the sets I'm looking at doing in the spring is a series using all the feedback I've gotten. Right now, it's poses, and lighting, and backgrounds and does this work, etc. I really do appreciate all the advice and tips. Next pass through the studio will be in a few weeks, and I'm going to try and pull something better together. :)

Thank you.
 
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