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Photo Assignment: Natural Light Portraits is an interactive video course, where participating photographers can have their work reviewed. Professional shooter Derrick Story shows how to capture beautiful, illuminated portraits with natural daylight, and shares tricks for how to get fantastic shots even when the light is not so great. Derrick teaches how to work with photo disc light modifiers to bounce in light to areas that need it. He also explains how to use shade, when it's available, for a completely different look. At the end of the course, Derrick describes how to upload photos to Flickr for review and comment.
Natural Light Portrait Photo Assignment Flickr Discussion Group
Well here we are in a beautiful park, and we are going to do some natural light photography today. What does that mean? That means no flash, no big lights. We are just going to use the light from the sky and my camera and of course, most importantly, our subject here, Edie. How are you doing today, Edie? Edie: Very well, thank you! Derrick Story: And we're going to make some great photographs, just with this equipment. So what am I using? Well, I am going to start with a telephoto lens here on a digital SLR. Now you don't have to use a telephoto lens on the digital SLR.
You can use a compact camera if you want. If you do though, make sure that you put the lens all the way out to telephoto mode. Why do we do that? Because we're going to soften the background with a long lens. That's what long lenses do, they compress the shot, gives a softer background. We want the eyes to be on Edie when people look at the photos, not the background, not the sprinkler that you hear going back there. Now, what else is going on here? Well, I am shooting in Program mode, sometimes called Professional mode, and the reason why is because this is a fairly straightforward shoot.
And Program mode works absolutely great. Now I am going to make a slight adjustment however because Edie's skin is a little bit darker than mine. I am going to go to minus one-half on the exposure compensation. I want to keep those rich tones in her skin. The other thing that I am going to do is I am going to go to Burst mode and that allows me to shoot off a series of shots, boom, boom, boom, instead of just boom, boom, boom. Sometimes expressions change in just a fraction of a second and I want to capture that with Burst mode.
So I think I am all ready to go. Let's take some shots of Edie. All right. You are looking great, Edie. I just want to take a few more shots here, and I see that the wind is giving us a nice look. Good. Good. Good. Just a few more right there. Excellent! Good. Well, as I am taking a look at these shots, I am noticing that's a little contrasty and that's because the light is so high in the sky right now.
And that causes is some dark areas here in the eyes. The cheeks get a little hot. What I'd like to do is even that out a little bit. The easiest way to do that is with a reflector. Fortunately, I have one with me and I have someone to hold it. Come on over, Tracy. So this is a reflector here. So Photoflex, it's a five-in-one. That means I have all these different surfaces to work with. Now, if it weren't so hot right now, and it wasn't so bright, I'd probably be tempted to use this. This is a very flattering reflector. It's a golden silver and it warms up the skin tones.
But because it's so bright right now, using a metallic surface like this or like this, it's just going to be hot on Edie. So I want to go with something a little softer. And the nice thing about this five-in- one is that we pull this away, hand this to Tracy, and we have a softer surface here. This is more of a satin white, so it won't be quite so bright. And I can use it one of two ways. We can reflect light off it or we can use it and diffuse the sun. We are going to start by reflecting light off it, see what we can get, and then from there we'll decide what to do next.
Tracy, I am going to put you to work. You go over there. Now what Tracy needs to do is actually reflect the light from the sun down onto Edie. And we want to fill in those shadows just a little bit. Oh, that looks good. Excellent! Okay just a few more shots there. Oh! That's looking really good. Just a few more.
Right there. Excellent. Well, as I am looking at these shots, we've definitely made some improvement. The bright areas and the dark areas have been softened a little bit, still a little hotter than I like. So what I'd like to do now is take that disc and put it up over Edie's head and diffuse the light as it's coming in. And let's see what we get.
Okay, just a couple more, Edie, because you are just looking so wonderful. This light is really good for your complexion. Those cheek bones look fabulous. Excellent! We're really in great shape. Now the thing to remember, these shots are good because we've created some shade and have really allowed her skin tones to look wonderful, but if there's shade existing already, you can use that and then use your reflector for other things. So let's move over to some shade and let's see how that works. So I've moved into the shade now, and so we are not going to have any problems at all with the light on Edie's face.
This is very even, although we might play with it a little bit. Now the real issue is the background. The background is brighter than the light on Edie's face, and so if I am not careful, I can then under-expose her face. So what I want to do now is I want to switch my metering pattern from evaluative - that measures everything - to spot meter, that's only going to measure Edie's face. I'll let the background go the way that it wants. I just want a good exposure on Edie herself. Let's see how that looks.
Those look pretty good, but I still like to play with the light a little bit more, because I have Tracy hanging out over here doing nothing. So we are going to bring her in with the reflector, pick up some of the light from the sky and see if we can get just a little bit more pop on Edie's face. Okay, Tracy, just bounce that right in there. So we have a couple of variations here. I think both of them are good. We'll look at them on the computer screen.
We'll compare them to the other shots that we've done. In the end, I know we're going to come out with some wonderful shots of Edie.
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