Saturday, 8 March 2014

5 Easy Tips for Better Natural Light Portrait Photography

5 Easy Tips for Better Natural Light Portrait Photography

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5 Easy Tips for Better Natural Light Portrait Photography

Posted: 08 Mar 2014 12:58 AM PST

Have you ever wondered how pro photographers get those great portraits that grab your attention so much that you often forget you’re looking at a picture? Through my experience as a professional photographer, I can pass on a few simple tips to make sure you get great portraits every time you click the shutter.

1. Learn to relax your model.

Have a cup of tea and a chat, show them your work, and talk about what you hope to achieve from the shoot. It is vital that you build a rapport with your model. He or she must feel at ease in front of your camera. Trust is vital to a good, honest portrait.

2. See the light.

One of the best lighting sources available is the humble window. Most houses have plenty, and they are a lot cheaper than fancy studio lighting systems. So turn your flash off and position your subject in the middle of the room facing the window. Now that the lovely soft natural light is falling upon the model’s face, position yourself next to the window facing the subject. Be careful not to block the light or to cast any unwanted shadows across the subject.

window portrait

“Celebrity Shoot” captured by Michael Davis (Click image to see more from Davis.)

child portraiture

“Untitled” captured by Lilia Tkachenko (Click image to see more from Tkachenko.)

3. Keep your aperture wide open.

For a nice blurry background and an eye-catching, popped subject, set your aperture (f-stop) to 2.8 or 4.5. You may need to set your ISO first depending on how light your room is. ISO sets the camera’s sensitivity to light, a bit like the old film speeds of yesteryear. An ISO value of 400 works in average conditions. Crank it up to 800 for darker rooms or gloomy days. This will keep your shutter speed up so you can avoid camera shake and properly expose your image.

4. Focus on the eyes.

Your wide aperture will give you a very narrow depth of field, so it is vital that the eyes are in focus. Eyes are the windows to the soul, and that’s what we want to see in a great portrait. Nothing looks worse than a nose in sharp focus with blurry eyes peering out from the background. Use a single focus point and keep it firmly fixed on the model’s pupils.

outdoor portrait

“Ford Family Portraits: Aaron Ford-Wright” captured by Kamau Akabueze

5. Compose within the frame.

Keep the model slightly off center so that the eye area is roughly a third of the way in from the edge and a third of the way down from the top of the f

beach portrait

“Relaxing on the Beach” captured by Gary Vernon (Click image to see more from Vernon.)

rame. Keep backgrounds simple and free of distracting clutter.

Combine all of the above tips, and you should be on your way to taking some great portraits. Most of the world’s greatest portraits were made using simple natural light photographic techniques without the use of costly and complicated equipment. Keep it simple, keep it fun.

About the Author:
Adam Gibbard ( is a professional wedding photographer in Cornwall, England. He has developed his style and expertise through practical experience and using the beautiful light available in Cornwall.

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Essential Tips for Creative Smartphone Photography (Video)

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 03:28 PM PST

Smartphone photography is becoming more and more popular as the cameras in phones get better and better. Combine this with the widespread use of apps like Instagram, and you have a genre of photography that is creating its own place in the world of professional and amateur photography alike. In the video clip below, Kate Hailey explains what smartphone photography means to her and shares some useful tips to help you improve your own craft:

The Art Behind The Images

After going through a slideshow of some of Kate’s favorite shots, she delves into what everyone is wondering. How is she capturing those shots? What apps is she using? Here’s an overview:

  • Many of the same rules cross over from traditional photography into smartphone photography, namely composition.
  • Look for interesting ways to frame your subject.
  • Be on the lookout for leading lines and interesting textures.
  • Move around the subject and try out different perspectives.
Try different perspective to create interesting images.

Try different perspectives to create interesting images.

What Do I Need?

Kate uses an iPhone for her mobile photography, but she stresses that Android devices are perfectly capable, and great photographs can be made using either of the devices. Here are a few of her favorite apps:

  • Snapseed is her go-to editing app. It’s free, powerful, and a must have.
  • Hipstamatic has many different filters to easily change the look of your images.
  • VSCOCam another free app that has a lot of in-app upgrades to bring your images to the next level.
  • PicFX offers a ton of fun filters and textures.
  • Mextures makes adding creative texture to images easy and has about 80 different textures to chose from.
Snapseed is a useful app to convert images to black and white.

Snapseed is a useful app for converting images to black and white.

The most important rule, Kate says, is to have fun with your smartphone photography. Try new things and and don’t take yourself so seriously that it begins to drain the fun out of mobile photography.

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Interesting Photo of the Day: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at Sunrise

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 01:45 PM PST

Showered in a powerful array of fiery orange sky and dramatic purple clouds, Washington, D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall comes off as brazenly proud in this photo–a stark contrast to its often dark and somber tone. The wall was designed by American architect Maya Lin in the 1980s and, from above, looks like a giant sobering scar carved into the grass. From ground-level, it is much quieter, and poignantly reflective:


The Vietnam Veterans Memorial leading and the Washington Monument at sunrise. (Via Imgur. Click for larger size.)

The photo is a dazzling example of composition–the memorial feels endlessly reaching toward the ultimate goal, the Washington Monument, perfectly centered in the bottom third of the frame. The colors reflect sharply against the wall’s dark stone. The use of HDR is obvious but effective, and it’s typical of photographer Angela B. Pan‘s stark and often patriotic American style.

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New Documentary Follows Bronx Portrait Photographer (Video)

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 01:38 PM PST

Here’s a new and deftly beautiful documentary on Dutch-born photographer Chantal Heijnen by an Amsterdam-based filmmaking duo. In it, Heijnen details her life as a teenager in the Netherlands with dreams of being a professional photographer, getting sidetracked by working with refugees as a social worker, losing that job after more than a decade, and deciding to pick up where she’d left off at age 15. She moved to the Bronx and has since been blending her love of photos with her compassion toward the underprivileged:

Heijnen’s photos are wonderful because of their starkness and sincerity. They’re portraits, but they have a street-style documentary feel about them, with almost unprepared naturalism. That’s her goal: to document what life in this district of New York City is like.

Importantly, the video shows her approaching and shooting portraits of a few locals, even being invited into a few homes, which really breaks down the myth that it’s difficult to approach someone for a photograph. This is a problem that she herself dissects:

“The thing that was most difficult for me is finding my new identity as a photographer. In the beginning, when I would introduce myself to somebody, I would say, ‘I’m a photographer–but I’m also a social worker.’ And it was very difficult for me to accept that I was a photographer.”


She also discusses the big ethical question of who benefits more: the subject or the artist. It is a touchy subject, especially when it’s a western European woman asking to document the lives of poor black families in the Bronx.

“After five years, and after creating a lot of new work, you grow into that new identity, but there was also a bit of feeling guilty, that being a photographer gave me the feeling of being a little bit selfish. Even though it is about people, it’s still also your body of work.”



What she doesn’t say, humbly, is that her photos speak for themselves. You’ll notice her sharing her results with children and with a man in his hallway, probably seeking their approval and understanding. At one point she takes a shot of two girls with her iPhone and, immediately afterward, a group of children rush up, smiling, wanting to see their friends on the small screen. If that’s how she works, then everybody wins.

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How to Add a Realistic Glow to Your Photos in Photoshop (Video)

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 10:46 AM PST

Photographing light sources such as lamps without over exposing them or underexposing other objects in the image can be tricky. One way around this is to add the glow during post-processing using photo editing software such as Photoshop. Check out conceptual photographer Brooke Shaden‘s quick tutorial that shows you how to give your images a realistic glow:

Steps for Adding Realistic Glow in Photoshop

  1. You’ll start by using the Elliptical Marquee Tool to select the area where the light source is located. In this case, the lamp is selected.
  2. Right-click and select Refine Edge. Feather the edge of the selection you just made. Be sure to feather it quite a bit so the light looks like it naturally falls off.
  3. Using the Curves, adjust the temperature and intensity of the light. If you want a nice warm glow, bring down the blues and boost the reds. Remember the settings you use for this portion of the edit so that you can match the light for the next step.
  4. Select a larger area in the image that you want to look illuminated from the light you just added. Make sure that it is an area where the light would fall naturally.
  5. Once your selection is complete, feather it, and go back into curves. Apply similar settings from the previous step for the most realistic look.


If the process seems confusing at first, don’t be dismayed. After doing it a few times, it will become second nature. As with any Photoshop workflow, many of the settings will be trial and error as no two images are exactly the same. Play with the settings that recommended in the video until you find what works best for the your photo.

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