Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Portrait Photography – Lighting

Hello from the soggy O.C., where it is pouring! But fear not, I was able to make a very nice portrait while staying dry and comfortable inside my house. Today I’d like to show you a segment about portrait photography and lighting.

Manipulating the available light is something that every photographer from beginning to advanced needs to have in their bag of tricks.

In the first image above is a portrait of my daughter, Tara.

I placed her in next to a bank of three windows in our living room that faces north. Very soft even lighting exists here, since the light is not directly striking my subject and due to the sheer curtains, the light is very diffused and soft.

Unfortunately, there is too much shadow on her left side of her face or camera right. A quick a simple way to fix this is with a reflector. Now you can run down to your nearest camera store where they will be happy to sell you a fancy-schmansy reflector for a bunch of money. But wait!

I have a quick and inexpensive solution that is almost always available.

Anything white will do. I grabbed an old poster out of the garage and placed it on top of the piano bench that my daughter is resting her arms on. Look carefully at the reflection in her eyes and you will see it in the lower half of her iris.

Since we didn’t have another assistant available and my labs aren’t very good at standing still, I just had my daughter use her left arm to bend the poster board up towards her face which nicely redirected some of the light from the window back into her face.Loo

See the huge difference it makes? You need to practice how close you need to bring your reflector in to work effectively, but in no time at all you should get the hang of this. Almost anything will work. Try a piece of paper, a napkin anything that will reflect the light from one direction back into your subject will work.

Practice makes perfect and is a lot less expensive than a store-bought reflector. Enjoy!


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