Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Portraits outdoors

One of the most challenging parts about taking portraits outdoors is to avoid over or underexposing your subject.  Years ago, I was always told to put the subject to my back.  Later, I read to put the light behind and to the side of the subject.  If you place the sun to your back then the subject is looking into the sun and they are squinting.  The sun will light their face but they will look as if they are looking into the sun.  If you put the sun to their back then their face will be dark.  I never fully understood the correct method for shooting this type of situation until I learned to use a flash outdoors.  Once I started 'experimenting' with using my flash outdoors, I was amazed how the images changed. 
In the first example the sun was behind the subject and I used a 'fill' flash to light his face.  I also added a Polarizer filter to reduce some of the light into the camera.  [I suggest using your lens hood to reduce harsh light coming into the front of the lens.]  There are many methods to fill the face with a flash.  Review your manual for your flash for the setting for fill flash.  On the Nikon SB-800 or SB-600 select TTL-BL.  I used a 'diffuser' on my flash to 'spread' the light out in front of the subject.  If you do not use the fill flash then your subject will underexpose and your background will be exposed properly or your subject will be exposed properly and the background's highlights will blowout.  
Another method to control the light is to find shade and place your subject in the shade.  [This is the method I attempt to use whenever possible.]  In the second and third image, we moved under the trees which drastically reduced the light and the fill flash highlighted my subject without overexposing the background.  
In the final image I placed the subject in this 'mini' cave like structure and balanced the light coming into the opening from the left and filled the subject with my flash with a diffuser mounted on it.  
Experiment with using a flash outdoors to obtain a different look and 'feel' for your images.  In future post I will discuss the use of off camera flash both indoors and outdoors to obtain a look with 'dimension'.
On a fun and different note; I was experimenting with an apple butter I make at home.  Apples cooked with pecans, raisins, vanilla, stevia, honey, and cinnamon.  After cooking the apples and pecans until they are soft, I 'blend' the ingredients [minus the excess water] in a Vita Mix.  It creates an amazing apple butter like dish.  My grand daughter ate some and to quote; 'it is love in a bowl'.  Oh, yes honey pappy will get you whatever you want.  Ha ha...


Angela said...

Your past few blogs have been very informative. I pretty much am relying on you to teach me about "artificial" light sources haha. BTW...the first capture of the guy on the train tracks is outstanding. Great contrast and composition, and his expression and "posing" (I hate that word but for lack of a better one...) make a really nice portrait. Keep it up! Still interested in having you come take some photos of Rod and I with the puppers. Might have to wait until it's warmer so they aren't miserable. Keep the blogs coming!!

Unknown said...

Thank you! The image on the train tracks is my favorite too!