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.
More about outdoor shooting. Most newer photogs feel more comfortable lighting outdoor due to the less need for equipment to buy & not having to pay for studio space. It's a different story when winter season comes along in a lot of places in the USA, but you can have a studio anywhere outdoor as long as you follow some basic pointers.
With your subject directly in front, you have them turn left or right to change their position for you. You can simply move toward or away from them to change your framing. Because left or right commands can be confusing to both of you, ask them to move either clockwise or counter-clockwise. It's the same for you and your subject. ALWAYS focus on your subjects eyes! Shallow depth of field is in vogue today and makes an interesting look. Focusing on their eyes will always be the most important part to get sharp.
A custom white balance is not that hard to do and all cameras offer it! If you don't know where it is on your camera, you need to! Being a professional photographer means having a complete understanding of your equipment and most importantly, the functions of your camera. You don't have to know 100% of it, but you must understand at least 75% of your cameras operations! Do a white balance before each session for the most accurate color and to minimize post production time. And don't forget to white very time your lighting changes or you make a major location move.
Strive to shoot your portraits at your subjects eye level for the most accurate perspective. Most portraits can be made with just one light and changing the angle in relation to your subject. Once you get more comfortable, Pro Studio sells a huge variety of photo reflectors and diffusers that can compensate for having one or no extra lights. A more simple lighting set-up with modifiers can create dramatic shadows and interesting portraits.
And as always, practice with your friends and family to improve these skills. Please share some photos and hints. We'll reward all that do!
Posted with permission and taken by Southern Exposure Photography, GA