Olympus E-P1 Diary Part 2: Shooting Portraits using Natural Light

Alodia Gosiengfiao (Olympus E-P1, ISO 800, 17mm Pancake, F2.8, 1/80sec)
Alodia Gosiengfiao (Olympus E-P1, ISO 800, 17mm Pancake, F2.8, 1/80sec)

It took a while for my second installment of the Olympus E-P1 Diary as I took my time in actually using the E-P1 in various situations. One interesting challenge for the E-P1 is on shooting portraits using its current kit lenses, the 17mm f2.8 Pancake and the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Zoom. I shot most of the portraits here under natural lighting conditions as I rarely travel with flash or any reflectors since these are personal travels. It is interesting how the Olympus E-P1 fared in this situation.

Ashley and Alodia Gosiengfiao (Olympus E-P1, ISO 800, 17mm Pancake, f2.6, 1/100sec)
Ashley and Alodia Gosiengfiao (Olympus E-P1, ISO 800, 17mm Pancake, f2.6, 1/100sec)

The first set of photos was an impromptu shoot during a tour in Singapore’s Chinatown Heritage Museum. It was a dimly lit room on the upper floor of the museum. But there was a dramatic light leaking through the windows and a set of chairs. It was just hard to ignore the scene so everyone began having their photos there. Among the willing models were popular cosplayers, the beautiful Gosiengfiao sisters Alodia and Ashely. They were a great subject as they are used to posing for cameras and really knows how to project.

Ashley and Alodia Gosiengfiao (Olympus E-P1, ISO 800, 17mm Pancake, f2.6, 1/60sec)
Ashley and Alodia Gosiengfiao worm's eye view (Olympus E-P1, ISO 800, 17mm Pancake, f2.6, 1/60sec)

For this shoot I positioned myself near the window where the light is coming from to get that dramatic gradient of shadow and light. I was using the 17mm Pancake at that time and had no time to change lenses. It’s a good choice since the place is actually dim the f2.8 aperture was good but I still need enough light so I boosted the aperture to ISO 800 with Image Stabilization ON,  Noise Filter set to LOW and Gradation set to Normal. On the first shot I try to focus more on the eyes on the second shot, since I’m using the Live View of the E-P1 I tried a worm’s eye view for a dramatic angle. At first the E-P1 kept on focusing on the foreground so I switched to selection focus and set to aim on their faces instead.

Alodia 100% Crop of the first image
Alodia 100% Crop of the first image

The images were processed from RAW using Adobe Camera Raw 5.5 with minor global adjustments and unsharp mask. Here’s a 100 % crop of the ISO 800 image. It looks good it retained some details on the highlights and the grainy quality on the shadows.

Caysasay Lola Candle Vendor (Olympus E-P1, ISO 400, 14-42mm Kit Lens, f4.7, 1/80sec)
Caysasay Lola Candle Vendor (Olympus E-P1, ISO 400, 14-42mm Kit Lens, f4.7, 1/80sec)

On the next photo, it was during a tour at Caysasay Church in Taal Town, Batangas. I was actually the one left behind already so I was rushing. But I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the Elder by the church door selling candles. So before I left I asked to take her photo. I was using the 14-42mm kit lens at that time with ISO boosted to 400 since that zoom lens really isn’t fast on low light situations as this. Nevertheless I was glad the photo was sharp when I viewed it on the computer.  The photo posted was cropped a little on top to remove a minor distraction.

Playing Baby Alexa (Olympus E-P1, ISO 800, 17mm Pancake, f2.6, 1/30sec, Soft Focus Art Filter)
Playing Baby Alexa (Olympus E-P1, ISO 800, 17mm Pancake, f2.8, 1/30sec, Soft Focus Art Filter)

Shooting portraits of Kids is another challenge. I have a bunch of nephews and nieces staying in our house so it would be nice to take photos of them. Baby Alexa is quite active and never stopped moving. I already boosted my ISO to 1600 just to keep up. I think 3 out of 10 shots were sharp enough considering the indoor fluorescent lighting conditions.

Baby Alexa (RAW File on the left and JPG File with Art Filter Sof Focus on the right)
Baby Alexa (RAW File on the left and JPG File with Art Filter Sof Focus on the right)

I also thought it would be nice to try the Soft Focus Art Filter on the E-P1 which would produce soft light images and it matches the kids fairly well. I Included a comparison of the actual photo processed from RAW and the out of camera JPG with the Art Filter for comparison.

Siblings (Olympus E-P1, ISO 1600, 17mm Pancake, f2.8, 1/25sec, Soft Focus)
Siblings (Olympus E-P1, ISO 1600, 17mm Pancake, f2.8, 1/25sec, Soft Focus)

Both lenses 17mm pancake and the 14-42mm zoom are really not designed for portraits, but I think it’s fair to say that they deliver very good results with on the E-P1. They capture good details even up to ISO 800 and I somehow like the smooth bokeh on the 17mm f2.8 when doing close up portraits like those of Baby Alexa. There were times when the camera focuses somewhere else I didn’t want to but switching to manual focus points could fix this.

3 Comments

  1. i really love the lola shot dun sa caysasay. napaka-dynamic ng play of light and shadow. and may istorya. puwedeng pang-contest ito amigo 😀

  2. looks like it passed all the tests, with flying colors! Ok pala handling nya sa low light conditions

  3. Thanks Og! Subukan natin 😀

    It’s capable in low light Allan but not really exceptional yet


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *
Name *
Email *
Website

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.