Outdoor Portrait photography
When photographing subjects outdoors, place your subject in open shade and use a reflector to bounce light back on to your subject.
When placing your subject in open shade make sure that there is no dappled light making its way to your subjects face. If there is dappled light try to place the dappled light to your subjects back or use a scrim or gobo to block the light.
Once you have your subject in a good spot have your assistant take a reflector and hold it over their head so that the reflector is at a 45 degree angle down and at a 45 degree angle to the Left or right of your cameras position.
The reason for holding the reflector up is to simulate the suns position. Many first time photographers place it low so the light bounces up on to the subject. Where this will fill in under the chin and eye sockets it will produce an un-natural light.
If you do need to get some extra light under the chin place a white reflector so that the shaded parts of the face will be filled in. Remember; when using this technique to not overdo it. You only need a little bit of light to fill in the shadow not completely remove it.
Shutter speed and Aperture relationship
The relationship between shutter speed and Aperture are polar opposites. When you change one in one direction you change the other in the opposite direction to maintain the proper exposure.
What is a shutter?
A shutter is a series of overlapping leaves that sits just in front of the cameras sensor and control the length of time the sensors is exposed to light. The faster the shutter speed the smaller the amount of time the sensor is exposed to light. These values can range from seconds to fractions of a second.
What is aperture?
Aperture is the opening in the lens that controls the amount of light that is allowed into the camera. F-stops as they pertain to the aperture can be confusing at first, but if you remember that the smaller the number the bigger the opening/aperture. Also remember that the smaller the number the shallower the depth of field.
Let's say you have metered a scene and the proper exposure settings are going to be 1/250th second at f/5.6. Knowing this starting point allows us to build the below chart (at first on paper, latter with practice in your head).
If we stop down or close the lens opening from f/5.6 to the next highest number f/8, we cut the amount of light by half and therefore we need to slow the shutter speed down to lengthen the time that light has to hit the sensor. To do this we will need to change the shutter speed down from 1/125th to its next smaller number 1/60th.
If we stop up or open the lens opening from f/5.6 to the next smaller number f/4, we double the amount of light and therefore we will need to speed up the shutter to shorten the length of time light has to hit the sensor. To do this we will need to change the shutter speed up from 1/125th to its next larger number 1/250th.
Each of the above combinations will produce the same exposure; however they produce different depth of fields and motion.
Knowing this relationship will help you in extreme situations such as, night, snow, beach, open water, fog, rain, backlighting, high contrast ad dim light to name a few. In these extreme cases you will be able to change your settings up or down to maintain a proper exposure while allowing you to tell your story.
By practicing this technique you will begin to see the relationship and start making these changes intuitively while expanding your creative freedom.
The term "low-key" refer to any scene with a high lighting ratio, e.g. 8:1, especially if there are high proportions of shadowed areas.
In Low-Key images the tone is darker with a great deal of contrast, usually creating large black fields in the photo. It is very common for Low-Key images to give special attention to contour lines, emphasizing them with highlights. Most notable is a light surrounding the subject illuminating only the outline of a subject known as rim light.
Low-key lighting requires only one key light, with an optional fill light or a simple reflector.
Low-Key images are darker and present drama or tension.
High-Key means that the overall key tone of the photo is high.
The key to successful high-key photography is working with flat and ample lighting and at the same time avoiding the use of dark subject matter. White-on-white makes for the best high-key photos.
There are three characteristics of high-key photography:
1. First is that the photo’s tone is very bright (not overexposed). Beginning photographer assumes that they can just overexpose the scene to get a high-key image.
2. The second is a lack of contrast that is even across the entire photo.
3. Thirdly shadow detail is at a minimum. Meaning that there should be little to no shadows cast by the main subject or they are suppressed by lighting in the scene
High-Key photography gives the impression of happy and joyful moods and positive emotions.
Lines: Building Blocks Of Shapes, Patterns and Textures
If you want to attract a viewer to your images the best way is to emphasize line, shape, patterns, and textures.
Composition and line play a key role in all photos. A line is a shape that is longer than it is wide. Lines can be actual or implied (dashes, dotted or a series of patters). Line gives the eye direction within the photo.
Let's start with line. Because without line you cannot have shape and without shape you cannot have pattern, and without line, shape or pattern there can be no texture.
Use lines strategically to create a more dynamic photograph. Incorporating them into your photos will lead the viewer's eye to the main subject.
What are the different types of line?
Vertical lines filled with potential energy and evoke strength, power, excitement, rigidity and stability (especially when thicker). Also, if the main subject matter contains vertical line I recommend shooting vertical as this will further accentuate the subject.
Horizontal lines Horizontal lines convey a message of calm, stability or even rest and symbolize peace, restfulness and tranquility.
Curved lines express fluid movement and imply serenity and dynamic movement depending on how much they curve. The less active the curve the calmer the feeling. Curved lines also slow the eye down due to its curvilinear nature.
Zigzag lines are a combination of diagonal line. They take on the dynamic and high energy characteristics of diagonal lines. They create excitement and intense or rapid movement. They convey confusion and nervousness as they change direction quickly and frequently.
Diagonal lines are unbalanced and imply action, energy, activity and rapid movement. Filled with restless and uncontrollable energy they create tension and excitement Diagonal lines are more dramatic than either vertical or horizontal lines.
Aperture and Depth of field
As a photographer I cannot emphasize the importance of having a good sense of knowledge of how Aperture and depth of field are related.
In March's article (F-Stop is NOT an F-word) I explained the nomenclature commonly used for aperture is f-stop. Aperture and f-stop relate to the size of the lens opening.
As one of the three components of an exposure (shutter speed, lens aperture, ISO) aperture plays a vital role.
The primary use of aperture is to control the depth of field (the distance in front and behind the subject that is in apparent focus) of a photograph as well as in part control the amount of light that is allowed to enter the camera through the lens.
Also from March's article (F-Stop is NOT an F-word) we discussed that the bigger the aperture/f-number is the smaller the opening which in turn results in a larger depth of field. If you were to set your lens to its biggest number the lens would be “fully stopped down”. Conversely, if you were to set your lens to its smallest number the lens would be “wide open”.
Now, having said all that let me also say the depth of field is not sharpness. What I mean by this is that just because you have a large depth of field it doesn’t mean that the subject will be sharp.
Apparent sharpness can be influenced by factors that have nothing or little to do with depth of field, such as lens quality, dirty sensor or lens element, fog or haze in the environment, even down to camera shake during long exposures.
So if you want good separation of your subject from the back ground set your aperture to a smaller number. Then, continue to adjust your aperture up or down until you get the desired results.
Below is a diagram showing the comparative size of full f-stop apertures.
As you can see from the below image series aperture is a powerful tool in your photographic arsenal. This photo shot with Canons EF 70 - 200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens.
This time of the year with its crisp and clear air is magical for getting those beautiful wet pavement shots.
At night after (and sometime during) a good rain the wet and shiny streets of your local (or not so local) downtown city reflects the brilliant lights to create colorful and vivid imagery.
Shoot from under an umbrella or an awning. If you can’t find some shelter to shoot from get yourself a large zip type bag and cut a hole in it for you lens. Stick the lens with an appropriate hood through the hole just enough so that the plastic will not obscure your field of view. This should protect tour camera enough to get the shot. Uses this technique at your own risk as this is only a suggestion.
After shooting in the rain dry you camera off immediately.
If you want to capture the rain dead in its track you are going to need to crank up your shutter speed to 200 or better especially if you want to capture the droplets creating crowns as they hit a shallow pool of water. Then again a slower shutter speed can yield a beautiful soft focus.
The other thing you will need to do when shooting reflection is to increase your f/stop so that more of your image is in sharp focus unless you are trying to draw attention to a very specific section of the image.
When photographing light reflection of wet streets or any type of standing water try to orient yourself in such a way that the reflected light bounces off the water and directly into your lens. This will give you the brightest and clearest photo.
F-Stop is NOT an f-word
What exactly is an f-stop anyway?
The term f-stop is sometimes confusing due to its multiple meanings. In photographic terms it can mean the size of a lens aperture or an EV (Exposure value) of light.
Lens aperture –corresponds to the aperture opening of the lens. The smaller the number the
bigger the aperture opening. An f/2.8 has a bigger opening then f/8. When you open up a lens by one stop you allows twice as much light into the camera.
The list below shows a typical progression of f-stops. For thoes techies out there it corresponds to the sequence of the powers of the square root of 2.
f/1, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32
EV (Exposure value) - represents a doubling or a halving of the light exposure either by stoping up or down of the lens aperture or by changing the shutterspeed.
By speeding up or slowing down the shutter speed you effectivly increese or decreese the amount of light that will enter the camera.
The shutter speed times are actually a fraction of a second. A speed of 1/125 (or simply 125th) really means 125th of a second.
As humans we perceive three dimensions because we have binocular vision. Our camera sees only in monocular therefore we need to (as photographers) use perspective to show depth.
To portray size or scale of an object be it large or small, introduce something into the composition that is of familiar size (telephone pole, sign, a person or an animal).
To suggest depth also place within the composition something of familiar size (vehicle, chair, a person or an animal) at different distances. A good example of this is rail road tracks, the merging of the tracks suggest that there is depth and dimension to the photo.
©R. Mabry Photography 2010
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