I shoot portraits and head shots in a number of different settings. Sometimes, outdoor portraits bring out a side of people’s personalities that you don’t get to see in a studio. Lighting can be tricky when you’re shooting outdoors, especially depending on the time of day and the weather. Here are a few tips that can help you get better quality images if you are shooting outside.
Use Wide Aperture Settings
The f-stop or aperture controls how wide the shutter opens when you capture the image. The smaller the f-stop, the wider the opening. I have found that wide aperture settings
generally work better in most outdoor scenes because they allow more of the natural light to enter the picture. If an image is too bright, you can compensate for that by using a faster shutter speed.
Use the Subject’s Eyes as a Focal Point
Digital cameras allow you to select focal points when shooting. You see little boxes appear in multiple areas of the photo. For example, if you’re shooting a group of people, the camera will try to autofocus based on where the faces are. When you’re shooting just one person in an outdoor setting, the person’s eyes make the best focal point for the image. The camera may auto-select other focal points, but you don’t always want to accept the default.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
This is one place where you’ll want to experiment and do some test shots. Shooting with the sun behind you can work if the sun isn’t too bright—such as taking a sunset portrait. But if you’re capturing images at high noon on a clear day, you may want to consider taking images in the shade, or at least in partially shaded area. You want to capture some sunlight on the subject’s face, but too much will oversaturate the image and drown out their features.
Outdoor portraits allow you to take advantage of a number of neat lighting effects that you can’t create in a studio. At the same time, it can be trickier until you get the hang of it. As with anything else, it’s a trial and error process.
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