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Monday, October 22, 2012

13 Tips for Improving Outdoor Portraits (pt1.)

1. Never select all of the focus points for portraits, focus on one.
     •When you pick the autofocus option that allows the camera to select focus points, you are doing your portraits a terrible disservice. This feature of a camera is usually designed to pick whatever is closest to the lens and focus there.

2. Always focus on the eyes.
     •The eyes are the windows to the soul, and should be the focal point of any good portrait. Not only are the eyes the most important part of a good portrait, but they are the sharpest element on the face and should be left that way
Image by Geomangio

3. Shoot wide open for shallow depth of field.
     •There are quite a few reasons to invest in a fast lens capable of wide aperture values; the most common is for shallow depth of field. Most fantastic natural light portraits are from wide aperture values and it is all because of the wonderful smooth background blur we call “bokeh”.

4. Never, ever, shoot a portrait at less than 50mm; try to stay at 70mm or higher.
     •The last thing you want to hear from a client is “Why does my head look swelled?” Any focal length below 70mm can distort your subject, however it doesn’t become very noticeable until you are below 50 MM. The compression effect of a telephoto lens will also increase the blur of bokeh.
5. Always shoot in RAW.
     •Raw is an unmodified compilation of your sensors data during the time of exposure. It is your digital negative. With RAW, you can make a vast range of edits before creating the JPG. RAW would have saved you by allowing you to fix the color before opening the image for retouching.
6. Always bring a gray card or a piece of a gray card for white balance.
     •Imagine a world where your photo shoot involved 4 locations and a total of 800 images, and all day the camera was set to Auto White Balance. That is 800 different white balance values, a post production nightmare. If, at each location, you have your subject hold the gray card on the first shot, you will save hours of work. Gray cards aren’t free. However, $5.95 US for a cardboard Kodak gray card is darn close.

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