Photographer of the Month – January 2013

Author Ms sophos9 - Last updated: 20.01.2013

It’s easy to lose motivation with family snapshots, especially as everyone seems to hide as soon as you pull out your DSLR. This month Lee Ratcliffe, aka Ratters, shares his tips and techniques of how he creates fun and captivating family portraits……


My Kit

My main equipment for portraits.
– Canon 5D2
– 50/1.4
– 85/1.8
– 430EX
– YN460
– Wireless Triggers
– Stands/Brollies

I also have….
– 450D
– 70-200/2.8
– 100/2.8 Macro
– 17-40L


My Technique

Planning is pretty much essential for good portraits be it outside on location or inside in a more studio type environment. Both have their pros and cons but I do prefer outside natural light with maybe flash for fill given the choice.


Things like light direction and paying attention to backgrounds make the biggest difference – Or rather are easy mistakes to make until the whole process becomes second nature and you start to notice these things without really thinking about them!!


Usually eye contact is pretty much essential in my work as is perfect focus on the eyes which is needed for the images to even make it into LR and receive any form of editing. On the subject of editing – Personally I like a softer, more pastel looking image in general or that muted almost film style look.


I like to keep things simple. I’ve done several shoots with just the 5D2 and 50/1.4 with the 430EX on camera just for a little fill in the shadows and to add a touch of catchlight in the eyes. The 85mm is also a lovely focal length on full frame but I’ll often use the 450D with the 85/1.8 and alongside the 5D2/50mm it’s a nice combination for different looks/styles. This is especially handy if like me you like to use diptych images for the finished set and want different looks or detail shots mixed in. Sometimes this can be thought of in advance, more often than not whilst shooting. You need to keep an eye out for matching shapes/colours/etc be that flowers, an ornate gate that will match or contrast clothing/hair colour for example.



Other things such as twisted/showing clothing straps, uneven collars and general untidy clothing, flyaway hair, reflections in glasses are all little things that you need to notice at the time rather than when sat at home reviewing images for editing…..


A bit about me

I was into photography back in the pre-digital days – I still have my old Yashica 35mm body from back then but I only have a 50mm f/2 to go with it now. I went bridge camera around the mid 2000’s around the time the children were born. When that one required repair in 2009 I went for a Canon 450D instead of getting it fixed, went on to buy a few lenses for that then went full frame in 2010 with the 5D2 and that was followed by more selling/buying of lenses/strobes to suit my needs. I shoot a variety of things. Portraits, UE, coastal/long exposure, candid street, motor related events I attend, etc etc I have done a 365 project in 2011 and the current project I’m doing is “The 1976 vs 2005 Project” – This is basically something to do over winter and is very light hearted and fun with the children.




Three things about me

1.I am “Old Ford Mad” – Have always owned Mk1 Escorts since my very first car. Current one I’ve had since 1996 and is currently under restoration after a very hard life of daily driving, drag racing, track days……

2.I [sort of] play the guitar – Acoustic only as I sold all the electric I had.

3.I am yet to win the Lotto or Euro Millions jackpot



Big thanks to Lee for sharing his portraits with us. If you want to catch more of “The 1976 vs 2005 Project” or check out more of Lee’s work head over to his Flickr Photostream.


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