There's so many styles and new ways of composing portraits these days. Everybody has a special place or background they like to use, but the soft-focus or ''blurry'' background still offers the most interesting look. Whether your background consists of three dimensional trees in a park or a beautiful old master painted background, it will consistently keep the attention concentrated on your subject by reducing the details behind them.
The simplest way is to position the subject as far in front of your background, while keeping in control and not running out material or subject matter around them. Whether it be a wonderful growth of shrubs, a unique brick bldg. or that new X-Drop style cloth background, allowing it to go soft will truly improve and keep the concentration on the portrait.
With most of the DSLR's on the market today, you can go to aperture priority ''A'' on your camera. You can select a wider opening like f2.8, f3.5, f4 which gives shallow depth-of-field. Most cameras will automatically set the shutter speed to make a proper exposure. Some cameras have an icon with a head on it for ''portrait'' mode. This will also assist in a wider aperture with less depth-of-field, if you're at all hesitant to use your DSLR in ''manual mode.'' To get a bit acquainted with these settings, make some test shots at different apertures to see how it changes your background.
Make sure you keep accurate focus on your subjects eyes when doing a tight focus and see exactly how this simple technique will change your look. This is usually a natural occurrence when using a small aperture and a long focal length. Working a soft background effect into some of your portrait sessions can help you develop a new look for the brand you're trying to create.
If you've captured some interesting portraits with the soft background effect, please share them. We love to share examples of your photos & other tips and ideas! Image provided by Southern Exposure Photography, GA.
Many of you who are new to photography probably haven't perfected your studio lighting yet. So a simpler option is to work outdoors in the natural light. But you really must avoid doing so during the middle of the day! The harsh sunlight will cause unattractive shadows in your portraits especially in eye sockets and under their nose. A portable flash or fill-flash will lighten the face and shadows but must be used correctly. Remember to be aware of your background and be sure to expose it properly.
Your best light comes early or late in the day for long shadows and warm tones. Experienced photogs know this as the ''Sweet Light.'' The quality of this light is diffuse and bright and makes flattering portraits like on a cloudy day. Again, the use of a portable fill-flash will add some details to the darker areas on your clients face. Use the sunset and shadows to enhance your portraits. Most of you have some favorite location spots to photograph seniors and families. Find out the best times of the day to use them. Leave a specific question about outdoor portraits and we'll answer you directly or on this blog!
Good luck this fall and please share examples of your work on our twitter page @ProStudioSupply, Facebook. Mark ProStudioUSA
Images by Echo Smithville, TX