Top 5 Portrait Tips

One light and a reflector

It’s the perfect setup when you’re just starting out because it’s easy to understand and control. Your main light provides the illumination on one side of you subject’s face while you use a reflector to bounce light back into the shadows on the other side.

Background blur

There are three ways to get good background blur: 1) use a longer focal length, like 85mm; 2) use your widest lens aperture to give the smallest depth of field; 3) move your subject further away from the background.

Lighting modifiers

The larger your light source, the softer and more flattering the light. This is why portrait photographers use softboxes or brollies. Naked “unmodified” flash gives more power but a much harsher light, with deep, hard-edged shadows.

Continuous lighting

Flash is brighter, but continuous lighting makes it much easier to judge the lighting effect as you work. It’s weaker, but you can increase the ISO setting to make up for that, and modern sensors cope well.

Fill flash on location

A portable flash can offer great supplementary lighting for fill flash portraits on sunny days or moody “slow-sync” images in dark interiors or at night when you carefully balance the flash with the ambient light.

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