Tips for Posing Models (videos)

The post Tips for Posing Models (videos) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

If you are interested in portrait photography, one of the hard parts (after learning your lighting and camera skills) is knowing how to pose your models. Particularly, if they aren’t professional models.

When you are taking portraits of men and women, their poses can be quite different because their bodies have different shapes and bend in slightly different ways. A pose that looks great for a guy, may look totally wrong for a girl and vice-versa.

So, to help you on your way to achieving better portraits by getting better poses from your models, I have compiled some videos for you to take a look at.

If, however, you don’t like to watch videos, you can grab yourself the dPS e-books, Portraits: Striking The Pose or 67 Portrait Poses (Printable).

Alternatively, see the list of articles you can read on posing models down below the videos.

Tips for posing men in portrait photography

This video is by photographer, Anita Sadowska.

This video is by photographer, Julia Trotti.

This video is from the perspective of a model agency, DLM Model Lifestyle, giving posing tips.

Tips for posing women in portrait photography

This video is by CreativeLive, featuring photographer, Lindsay Adler. These tips are for photographing people in a seated position.

This video by AtchatChannel Ubonratchathani, gives 60 model poses in 1 minute.

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The post Tips for Posing Models (videos) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Photographing Portraits with Classic Lenses (includes Example Images)

The post Photographing Portraits with Classic Lenses (includes Example Images) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

photographing-portraits-with-classic-lenses

From the 1930s onwards, manufacturers around the world produced 35mm film camera systems with a huge array of interchangeable lenses. Some good, some bad, some legendary.

With the rise of digital in the early 21st century, much of this gear fell out of favor, and prices declined rapidly. But things soon turned around.

Classic lenses are now in big demand. This is not only due to the current renaissance in film photography but also due to the fact that many photographers love to shoot with these lenses on digital cameras as well.

In this article, I explain how you can shoot portraits with classic lenses on your digital camera, including how to find one, how to set your camera up, and what to expect from vintage glass. Why limit yourself to the lenses made by your camera manufacturer when there is so much good glass out there?

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Three classic M42 mount lenses that can be used in digital photography. [L-R] Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f1.4, Helios 44 58mm f2, Meyer Optic Goerlitz Oreston 50mm f1.8.

Why shoot portraits on classic lenses?

This is a key question – why shoot portraits on classic lenses? There are a few reasons why I enjoy it.

Firstly, I love the different look that it gives my photos. They’re not better or worse than images taken with modern autofocus lenses. However, they certainly have a unique charm and character that you just don’t get from today’s ultra-sharp digital lenses.

Secondly, buying a vintage lens is a fantastic way of getting some quality glass in your kit on the cheap. Although prices have risen in recent years, you can still buy many amazing lenses for under $100 USD.

Finally, it’s a lot of fun to shoot with an older lens. I love to think about the images the lens has taken over the course of its lifetime, who has used it, and where it’s been. It’s also a point of interest – people often look puzzled and will go out of their way to find out what lens you’re using and where you got it.

How do I find a classic lens?

Finding a classic lens is relatively straightforward. The first thing you could try is to ask friends and family if they have any old film photography gear. It’s quite possible that an old Pentax or Olympus film camera is lurking in their attic. With some luck, the lens (and camera) will be in a usable condition, and you will be able to shoot portraits with it.

If that avenue doesn’t produce any classic beauties for you, turn to eBay, Facebook marketplace, and other online markets to see what’s for sale.

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Considering their optical quality, Super Takumar lenses are still a bargain despite rising prices.

Before you do this, do some research about which lenses you’d like to buy, and make sure that you can get an adapter to fit the lens to your digital camera.

Take care when reading the description of lenses online. Ideally, you want a lens that has clear glass, with no fungus or haze. Don’t worry too much about small amounts of dust – all lenses (especially vintage ones) will have dust in the lens, which doesn’t usually affect image quality too much.

Although I’ve said above that you should avoid lenses with fungus and haze, I have used lenses with plenty of fungi in, without having much of a noticeable effect on images. Still, it’s something you’re best to avoid. If you look at the images of the lenses posted in this article, there are plenty of spots of dust and marks on the lenses I’ve used, but with no noticeable effect.

Buy a lens adaptor

A classic lens will not fit on to your digital camera as it is – you will also need to buy a lens adaptor. There is an adapter for almost every classic lens/digital mount combination.

Don’t just buy the cheapest one you can find; quality does matter here. If you’re not sure which brand to buy, ask around in Facebook groups to see what other people use and recommend.

The adapter I used for images in this article is the K&F Concept M42 to Fujifilm X adapter. I have two K&F Concept adapters – one for M42 mount and one for the smaller M39 mount.

Image: Lens adapters are available for almost all classic lens to digital camera combinations. Pictu...

Lens adapters are available for almost all classic lens to digital camera combinations. Pictured are M42 and M39 to Fujifilm X lens adapters.

Set your camera up to shoot with your classic lens

Once you have your lens and adapter, you now need to set up your camera to shoot with it. The steps I have below are for my Fujifilm X-Series cameras. If you’re using another brand, ask in Facebook groups, or turn to Google to find out how you can do the same for your camera.

Firstly, you need to enable the “shoot without lens” option in the menu. If the camera doesn’t recognize the lens, it may not allow you to take any images at all, so this is a must.

Secondly, set the focal length of the lens you are using in the mount adapter setting. The camera doesn’t know which lens you are using, so it will take the value in here for the metadata for images. If you skip this step, it’s no big deal, but it certainly makes finding images later on a little easier in Lightroom. Also, remember to keyword your images on import, as you may have several classic lenses with the same focal length.

Now you’re all set to manually focus your classic lens on your digital camera.

Wait, I have to focus manually?

In the vast majority of circumstances, yes. If you’re adapting a lens from one system to another, you’ll have to focus manually.

It may surprise you to know that in terms of the history of photography, autofocus lenses are relatively new. The first mass-produced autofocus camera was the Konica C35 AF point-and-shoot in 1977, and the first 35mm autofocus SLR, the Pentax ME F, was released in 1981.

Even after the arrival of this new technology, many professional photographers thought of autofocus as a gimmick and didn’t trust it until further advancements in the late 80s and early 90s.

If the thought of manually focussing on a portrait shoot alarms you, don’t worry. Digital cameras have amazing technology inside them that will help you.

Image: I found this classic in a charity shop for $15USD.

I found this classic in a charity shop for $15USD.

Set up focus peaking

Focus peaking is a technology that many cameras have to make manually focussing a lens easier. When this is enabled, the camera will highlight objects that are in focus with a color (typically red) as you look through the viewfinder.

As you rotate the lens back and forth, different objects will come in and out of focus. When shooting portraits, you rotate the lens until your subject’s hair and/or eyelashes highlight in red.

This technology helps to focus enormously, especially if, like me, your vision isn’t as good as it used to be. Other options to assist manual focusing in the Fujifilm X-Series line include digital split image and digital microprism.

Classic lens road test

To illustrate the types of portrait images you can take with vintage glass, I’ve used three different lenses for this article. I’ve used the Meyer Optik Gorlitz Oreston 50mm f1.8, the Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f1.4, and the Helios 44 58mm f2 lens.

All of them have the same M42 mount, a system of attaching a lens to a camera body originally designed by the Carl Zeiss company in the late 1930s.

M42 is a screw mount. To attach the lens to a lens adapter (or an M42 mount vintage camera), you rotate it around in a circle until it stops. Don’t overtighten it. This is quite different from many modern cameras which use a bayonet-style mount. Many legendary camera manufacturers have used M42 at some stage, including Contax, Pentax, Yashica, and Olympus.

Meyer Optik Gorlitz Oreston 50mm f1.8

I picked up this Meyer Optik Gorlitz Oreston in a bag of camera gear at a charity shop for $15 USD. As soon as I saw the zebra stripe pattern around the edge of the lens, I knew I had something special.

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The Zebra stripes of the Meyer Optik Gorlitz Oreston 50mm f1.8, mounted with a K&F Concept adapter to my Fujifilm X-T2.

Meyer Optik produced this lens in their East German factory from 1960-1971. After this, the company was absorbed into the Pentacon group, and the name disappeared from lenses entirely.

A feature of this lens is its beautiful color rendition and distinct vintage look. It has a softer, dreamier overall look than other lenses, but it’s still sharp. Shoot wide open with this lens for beautiful, dreamy bokeh. It’s one of my favorite classic lenses.

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Sarah in a field. This image shows the dreamy bokeh of the Meyer Optik Goerlitz Oreston 50mm f1.8 lens.

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This is one of my favorite shots of my daughter, taken with the Oreston 50mm f1.8 lens.

 

Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f1.4

Image: This lens has a few dents but keeps on rocking! Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 mounted with a K&...

This lens has a few dents but keeps on rocking! Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 mounted with a K&F Concept adapter to my Fujifilm X-T2.

 

In the 1960s, Pentax wanted to come up with a lens that would rival – or even outperform – Carl Zeiss glass. The result was the first version of the Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 lens with eight elements.

It’s been said that in the early days of its release, Pentax lost money each time they sold one. Perhaps this is why they soon switched to a cheaper seven-element version of the lens.

Manufacturing differences can make identification tricky, but I understand the lens that I have (pictured above) is a later version of the seven-element Super Tak. This version of the lens uses a radioactive element – Thorium – in its rear element. Despite their radioactivity, lenses with Thorium are not considered dangerous. Unless you grind one up and eat it, but that would be a terrible waste of a good lens.

Over many years, Thorium can cause yellowing in the glass. You will see from the images below – especially the first – that it has quite a warm look to it because of this issue.

The Super Tak (any version you can get your hands on) is a gem of a lens. Faster than other lenses in this review, it’s sharp, has pleasing bokeh and fabulous color rendition. If you don’t like the warm cast some of them have, due to the yellowing of the lens, you can always correct it in post.

Image: At the beach. Shot wide open at f1.4 on the Pentax Super Takumar 50mm lens. Note the very war...

At the beach. Shot wide open at f1.4 on the Pentax Super Takumar 50mm lens. Note the very warm look to the image caused by a yellowing of the lens over time.

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Alyssa in Brisbane. Shot on the Fujifilm X-T2 with Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 Lens.

 

Helios 44

Helios 44 lenses are among the best-known vintage lenses that photographers have bought in recent years to use with digital cameras. Like many post-war Russian lenses, it’s a copy of an earlier German design, the Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f2.

photographing-portraits-with-classic-lenses

An odd-looking combination – a silver Helios 44 58mm f2 lens mounted on my Fujifilm X-T2.

Helios 44 lenses were produced in several different factories in the former Soviet Union. My lens features a full chrome metal construction, but others are black anodized lenses that come in a variety of styles. It’s been said that no two Helios lenses are the same – each has its own unique character.

Take the photos below – the Helios lenses are most associated with swirly bokeh, but in one of the images below, my lens has quite a bit of soap bubble bokeh.

The Helios is sharp, fun to use, and has the most unique bokeh in the lenses I’ve featured in this article. When you use the lens for portraits, though, beware of the bokeh trap.

What’s the bokeh trap?

Bokeh is the name for the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus parts of an image. Vintage lenses are known to generally have much more unique bokeh than modern lenses. Be careful not to fall into the bokeh trap though – remember that you’re shooting portraits, you’re not producing images just to show off the bokeh.

Image: This image shows some of the swirly bokeh that the Helios 44 line of lenses is known for.

This image shows some of the swirly bokeh that the Helios 44 line of lenses is known for.

photographing-portraits-with-classic-lenses

In the right circumstances, the Helios 44 lenses can exhibit incredible looking bokeh. Pictured above is the soap bubble bokeh due to the backlit foliage behind the subject.

 

Lens comparison test at the beach

I took the photos above at different locations, so to demonstrate what the lenses look like on the same shoot, I took them to the beach with my Fujifilm X-T2.

On this shoot, there are noticeable differences between the three, and I believe that I could pick each one if I hadn’t taken the images myself. However, the differences were not as big as I had imagined. All images were shot wide open (using the smallest f-number the lens has) with focus peaking turned on.

Image: No prizes for guessing which lens this is! The Super Takumar has a warm cast to it.

No prizes for guessing which lens this is! The Super Takumar has a warm cast to it.

Image: Next up is the Oreston, the sea did not produce a very distinctive bokeh in this instance com...

Next up is the Oreston, the sea did not produce a very distinctive bokeh in this instance compared to other images I’ve taken with foliage in the background.

photographing-portraits-with-classic-lenses

Almost surprisingly, this image taken by the Helios was my favorite all-around image in this test.

Image: The Helios RAW image with some edits applied in Lightroom.

The Helios RAW image with some edits applied in Lightroom.

 

Conclusion

Using a vintage lens with your digital camera is something every photographer should try. It’s an easy way to give your images a very unique and characteristic look, including bokeh, which you just don’t get on modern lenses.

It’s also a fantastic way of adding some high-quality glass to your kit for a fraction of the price of modern equivalents.

An added bonus is that it can help you grow as a photographer – especially if you’ve only used autofocus lenses before. Using a classic lens will force you to manually focus and discover more about the incredible features of modern cameras, like focus peaking.

Has this article, Photographing Portraits with Classic Lenses inspired you to try classic lenses with your digital camera? If you’ve already used classic lenses in your photography, which ones were your favorites? Tell us in the comments below.

The post Photographing Portraits with Classic Lenses (includes Example Images) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

Speedlight vs Monolight on Location: See How They Compare [video]

The post Speedlight vs Monolight on Location: See How They Compare [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video from Adorama, Gavin Hoey compares speed light vs monolight on location.

In the test, he does three very common lighting scenarios. He uses the flashes as fill flash, overpowering ambient light, and high-speed-sync flash.

He uses model, Charlotte, for the demonstration.

Gavin uses the following gear for the shoot:

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Gavin Hoey (@thegavinhoey) on

Scenario one: fill flash

First up, in the Speedlight vs Monolight comparison, Gavin uses the monolight.

Before taking any shots, he takes a meter reading of the ambient light. Then to get his flash to match those settings, rather than use trial and error (which you can do), he uses a light meter to take an accurate reading from his model’s chin. He then uses that to set the flash.

Settings: f/3.5 1/250th Sec ISO 200

Next, he uses the speedlight flash. He sets it up using the same light modifier that he uses with the mono light and puts it in the same position.

He takes another light meter reading of his model’s chin, and set’s his speedlight flash.

When comparing the photographs, it is difficult to see the difference between using the monolight and using the speedlight.

Scenario two: overpowering the ambient light

Settings: f/16 1/250th sec ISO 200

In this scenario, Gavin runs the flash at full power to see what sort of aperture he can get out of the flash.

When doing a light meter reading, he gets an aperture of f/22 at the flash’s full-power setting.

Because he doesn’t want to waste the flash battery power and have a longer recycle time, he drops the flash to half power, which gives him an aperture of f/16.

He tests the camera settings without flash first to see how dramatic the sky looks. Then he turns the flash on to get some dramatic shots.

Gavin then swaps the flash over to the Speedlight, again using the same modifier and distance. The meter reading with the speedlight gives f/11, and the speedlight is set to full power.

In the side by side comparison, Gavin prefers the speedlight version over the monolight (what do you think?). But he prefers the flexibility, faster recycle times, power usage etc. of the monolight.

Scenario three: high-speed-sync flash

High-speed-sync flash strobes the light rapidly, meaning you get less power out of the lights. It is used for a shallow depth of field, so Gavin switches to a 25mm f/1.2 lens and shoots at f/1.2.

Firstly, Gavin turns off the flash and dials in f/1.2 and his flash sync speed of 1/250th of a second and then takes a picture of his model, Charlotte, to see what he gets at those settings.

While his model is quite well exposed at those settings, the background is overexposed, so Gavin tries 1/4000th of a second shutter speed, which gives him more detail in the background.

Most light meters won’t work with high-speed sync, so Gavin uses trial and error to set the flash to light Charlotte. He settles with 1/16th power.

Settings: f/1.2, 1/4000th sec, ISO 200.

He then tries the same settings with the speedlight flash with the flash at half-power.

While the flash does well to light the model, it struggles to keep up when shooting a number of shots in quick succession. He managed to get 18 photos in a row before the speedlight stopped working. This was actually the recycle time getting much longer.

Conclusion

If you have lots of high-speed-sync photos to take on location, you are better off with a monolight.

Variables: how far flash is from the subject, amount of ambient light, and softbox.

What are your thoughts on the comparisons? Which do you think wins in the speedlight vs monolight comparison? Share in the comments!

 

You may also like:

 

The post Speedlight vs Monolight on Location: See How They Compare [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

17 Tips for Shooting Better Urban Portraits

The post 17 Tips for Shooting Better Urban Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

tips-for-shooting-better-urban-portraits

Are you interested in doing an urban portrait shoot, but you’re not sure where to start? An outdoor shoot in your local town or city is a great way to be more creative, think on your feet, and come away with some unique images that you can’t get from a shoot in a studio or your local park. However, If you’ve never done one before, you may be a little daunted. In this guide, I run you through my top tips for shooting better urban portraits.

One way to make sure your talent is relaxed at the start of the shoot is by asking them to smile and getting some fun shots to kick things off.

1. Have a vision for the images you want to shoot

Begin with the end in mind. Create a mood board of urban portraits using a free tool such as Pinterest. These could either be your images or inspirational images from other photographers. Keep these in mind as you plan your shoot, as this is the standard you’ll be aiming for.

2. Location scouting

Before you plan your shoot, get an idea of the type of urban landscapes in your area. What kind of images could you take here? How could the buildings and street scenes feature in your photographs as a point of interest or as a background texture?

Every town and city has its unique charms – from heritage buildings to seaside piers to abandoned shopping centers. Find what’s interesting about your area and use it.

You can find out more about what I look for when scouting locations in my previous dPS article, How to Choose Urban Landscapes for Portrait Photography.

tips-for-shooting-better-urban-portraits

There’s always something of interest to shoot. Open up to the creative possibilities in your town.

3. Find talent for your shoot

The easiest way to find someone for a shoot is by asking family or friends. This way, the pressure is off, as you have someone familiar to work with that you can test your ideas on. Make sure you ask someone that is not too shy or self-conscious, though; after all, it will involve posing for photographs in a public location.

If you’re ready to test your urban portrait skills with a model, organize a TFP (time for print) shoot. These have been around since the pre-digital days, when photographers, models, and make-up artists would collaborate and give their time for free in exchange for physical prints of images taken during the shoot. These days, images from TFP shoots are usually digital files shared over the internet.

Finding people to work with should be relatively easy. Most cities have photographer and model groups on Facebook. Type the name of your area with the words model or photographer and see what comes up. If you have no luck, you can also ask in general photography groups if anyone knows of a TFP-style group you could join.

Image: In this image, I have lit Alyssa with a video light. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 35mm f1.4 lens.

In this image, I have lit Alyssa with a video light. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 35mm f1.4 lens.

4. Ask for expressions of interest

Once you’ve joined a local Facebook group, have a scan of the posts and see if it’s the kind of community you wish to work with. If you feel comfortable, it’s time to post your expression of interest.

Create a post introducing yourself and calling for expressions of interest in a TFP urban portrait shoot. Link to examples of your work and your Instagram.

Let people know specific details about the shoot. This includes the approximate location, proposed days and times, and the types of shots you’re looking to get. You can also link to or share images from your mood board on the post to set an expectation of the kind of shots you’ll take. If you use images on the mood board that are not yours, make sure you credit the photographer and explicitly state whose work it is.

Finally, ask people to comment on the post or send you a private message, expressing their interest. Also, ask them to link to their Instagram or portfolio.

tips-for-shooting-better-urban-portraits

Safety is important on any shoot – never put yourself or your talent in danger to get a shot. I took this image with the model on the footpath.

5. Arrange details for the shoot

After you’ve chosen whom you’d like to work with, organize the shoot. Agree on the day, time, and location. Prepare to negotiate regarding which day you can shoot, but not on the time. Always choose the time of day that you know will work best for photography. For me, that’s about an hour before dusk as this provides opportunities for natural light and after-dark images.

If the model is under 18, check that their parent or guardian is coming along and that they will be able to sign a model release form.

Ask your model what they’re planning to wear for the shoot. Quite often, they will ask for your advice or provide you with options. Explain that it would be ideal to have two or three different looks. Some people will prefer to have completely different outfits for the first and second half of the shoot (if there is somewhere to change). For others, it means bringing along some fun accessories like glasses, sunglasses, a hat or jacket.

If you’re arranging a shoot a week or two in advance, don’t forget to stay in touch with your model. Remind them a day or two before the shoot.

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Sunglasses can be very handy on a shoot – especially when there are neon signs! Anneke, Brisbane. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 56mm f1.2 lens.

6. Have a plan

Think back to your location scouting. Have a list of 8-10 places where you’d like to shoot that are within walking distance of each other. Draw a map in your notebook and plan your route and the types of shots at each place. Typically, I only shoot in 6-8 locations, but I like having a couple of options up my sleeve in case some don’t work out.

Finally, don’t be afraid to throw your plan out the window if a better opportunity presents itself.

17 Tips for Shooting Better Urban Portraits

7. Plan your kit

It’s tempting to take as much kit as you can carry on an urban portrait shoot. However, strike a happy medium between taking enough kit to give you options without having to hire a Sherpa to carry your gear.

I typically take two camera bodies (Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T2) with prime lenses, with a third lens in my bag. My lenses of choice are usually the Fujinon 16mm f1.4 for wide-angle and environmental portraits, and either the 35mm f1.4 or the 56mm f1.2 lenses for portrait work. With the APS-C crop factor, these work out to 24mm, 52.5mm, and 84mm equivalent lenses in full-frame terms.

Although I love zoom lenses for family portrait shoots, I only take fast prime lenses on urban portrait shoots.

Double-check all your camera settings when you pack your gear. Things I check are:

  1. I’ve selected the same JPG film simulation on both cameras,
  2. I have the same auto ISO settings,
  3. JPG + RAW is selected in the image quality settings.
  4. There are spare formatted SD cards and spare batteries in my bag
  5. I have model release forms and a pen.

8. Get to know whom you’re photographing

Make sure you turn up early – you won’t make a good impression if your talent is waiting for you and wondering if you are going to turn up or not. Get to know your model and their chaperone. Everyone can be a bit nervous at the start of a shoot, so have a good chat with them before you even think about pulling out a camera.

9. On the shoot

Remember, on these kinds of shoots, you don’t need quantity, you need quality. I aim to get a dozen images I’m really happy with. This means potentially shooting in a different way than you usually would. Take your time with directing the model and getting the composition right before taking the shot.

Make sure you get a variety of shots – close-ups, full length, looking to the camera, looking away. Also, remember to get some different looks by using any accessories the model has brought with them.

tips-for-shooting-better-urban-portraits

Make sure you get a variety of shots – not just close-ups.

10. Be prepared to direct the model

Directing talent is a skill you will need to learn – especially with younger up-and-coming models with limited experience. There’s no need to be worried if you have no experience doing this yourself. Get yourself the 67 PORTRAIT POSES (PRINTABLE) Guide from DPS to have on your phone (or print them), or have a stash of urban portrait images, ready to flick through to give your talent some ideas on how to pose.

17 Tips for Shooting Better Urban Portraits

11. Check your ISO and shutter speed

As the day moves into night, keep a check on your ISO and make sure you have usable shutter speeds above 1/80th of a second. The most annoying mistake I’ve made on these shoots is looking at the back of the LCD screen, thinking that I’ve captured a sharp image, only to see that the image wasn’t as sharp as I thought on my computer screen later on.

12. Limit any negative self-talk

Negative self-talk can affect us all. If you had an idea for an image, but it doesn’t work out on the shoot, move on and forget about it. Many images are still there for the taking.

13. Carry your own lighting options

For the first half of an urban portrait shoot, I rely on natural or ambient light. As darkness envelopes the urban landscape, I look to my own lighting options.

The first option I usually take is a speedlight flash that I can use on-camera, or trigger remotely. Typically, the light from these types of flashes can be harsh, so you may like to use a light modifier such as a mini softbox.

The second type of lighting that I use on my urban portrait shoots are small LED video lights. These are fantastic, and I love using them. Again, you can use one through a light modifier for a softer effect.

Image: Using an on-camera flash can lead to some creative effects.

Using an on-camera flash can lead to some creative effects.

14. Safety

Safety should be your number one priority on a shoot like this. Identify any hazards before the shoot and brief your model. The last thing you want is someone getting hurt. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you get a bad vibe from an area, it’s best to move on.

Never leave any of your bags on the ground unattended. A few moments of inattention is all an opportunistic thief needs.

15. Legal

Always operate your shoots legally. Research if you need any permits to shoot in your city, look into public liability insurance, and have model releases signed before the shoot.

16. Limit the shoot time

Keep the shoot between 60 and 90 minutes; you’ll be amazed at how fast this will go. It’s better to have it run shorter and end on a high than run it longer with everyone exhausted. For younger models, keep it to under 60 minutes.

tips-for-shooting-better-urban-portraits

Keep the shoot length to under an hour for younger people – modeling is very tiring!

17. Editing your images

I always try and get it right in-camera, with only minor edits made to images afterward. One decision you may have to make is how much you want to clean up the image in post. In the example below, there were a lot of cigarette butts on the ground. I decided to remove these in Photoshop to make a cleaner image.

17 Tips for Shooting Better Urban Portraits

tips-for-shooting-better-urban-portraits

In this image, I removed all the cigarette butts and other debris from the road as I felt it detracted from the image. Sasha, Brisbane, Fujifilm X100F lit by a Godox flash.

Conclusion

Urban portrait shoots are a lot of fun and can stretch your creativity as a photographer. They help you to think on your feet and overcome challenges. If you’ve never done one before, there’s no need to feel daunted. Do your research and planning, and it will all fall into place.

If you have any questions or comments about planning an urban shoot, let us know below.

The post 17 Tips for Shooting Better Urban Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

A Classic Annie Leibovitz Documentary

The post A Classic Annie Leibovitz Documentary appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

annie-leibovitz-documentary-1993

I was at a bookstore the other day and was looking through a great book on the work of Annie Leibovitz – Annie Leibovitz Portraits 2005 – 2016. I am a big fan of Annie Leibovitz’s work and have been ever since I began taking black and white photos and developing them in my darkroom back in the late 80s/early 90s.  Her lighting styles, techniques, and subjects fascinated me. I have her book, Annie Leibovitz At Work, which is not only a great insight into her fantastic images but the equipment and techniques she uses too.

So, this week, I wanted to share an old Annie Leibovitz documentary from 1993, along with some of Annie’s images to get you inspired on your portrait photographic journey.

I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.

 

 

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Angelina Jolie, Dumont Dunes, Baker, CA, 2006 / In celebration of the premier of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

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Katy Perry, Paris, France, 2011 / Happy Birthday, Katy

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sun Valley, ID, 1997 / In celebration of the premier of Terminator: Dark Fate

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Serena and Venus Williams, Photo 1: Palm Beach, FL, 2016. Photo 2: West Palm Beach, FL, 1998

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Jennifer Lawrence, Los Angeles, CA, 2015 / Congratulations on your wedding

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The post A Classic Annie Leibovitz Documentary appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

A Classic Annie Leibovitz Documentary

The post A Classic Annie Leibovitz Documentary appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

annie-leibovitz-documentary-1993

I was at a bookstore the other day and was looking through a great book on the work of Annie Leibovitz – Annie Leibovitz Portraits 2005 – 2016. I am a big fan of Annie Leibovitz’s work and have been ever since I began taking black and white photos and developing them in my darkroom back in the late 80s/early 90s.  Her lighting styles, techniques, and subjects fascinated me. I have her book, Annie Leibovitz At Work, which is not only a great insight into her fantastic images but the equipment and techniques she uses too.

So, this week, I wanted to share an old Annie Leibovitz documentary from 1993, along with some of Annie’s images to get you inspired on your portrait photographic journey.

I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Angelina Jolie, Dumont Dunes, Baker, CA, 2006 / In celebration of the premier of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

A post shared by Annie Leibovitz (@annieleibovitz) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Katy Perry, Paris, France, 2011 / Happy Birthday, Katy

A post shared by Annie Leibovitz (@annieleibovitz) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sun Valley, ID, 1997 / In celebration of the premier of Terminator: Dark Fate

A post shared by Annie Leibovitz (@annieleibovitz) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Serena and Venus Williams, Photo 1: Palm Beach, FL, 2016. Photo 2: West Palm Beach, FL, 1998

A post shared by Annie Leibovitz (@annieleibovitz) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Jennifer Lawrence, Los Angeles, CA, 2015 / Congratulations on your wedding

A post shared by Annie Leibovitz (@annieleibovitz) on

 

You may also like:

The post A Classic Annie Leibovitz Documentary appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Simple Tips to Improve Your Portrait Photography Immediately

The post Simple Tips to Improve Your Portrait Photography Immediately appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

tips-to-improve-your-portrait-photography-immediately

Getting started with portrait photography can seem like a daunting task. Once you start researching all the techniques, equipment and (so-called) rules, and everything else you have to memorize and acquire, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. Even so, the journey is worth it, and portraiture is a rewarding pursuit. Throughout your time taking portraits, you will meet, talk to and get to know a lot of people, and hopefully take some great photos of them as well. Instead of focusing on what you need to take great portraits (that’s a camera by the way, nothing more), this article outlines eight tips that you can take and start using immediately to help you improve your portrait photography immediately, without spending another penny.

1. Use softer light

tips-to-improve-your-portrait-photography-immediately

Soft light is an incredible tool to get the very most out of your portraits. Using it is not the only way to do things, but it’s a great place to start.

If you’ve read anything about portrait lighting before, this is a tip you’ve already heard, but it needs to be repeated over and over again. Hard light, such as that from the midday sun, is usually the quickest way to attain contrasty and harsh portraits with unflattering shadows and highlights. Taking the time to seek out pockets of softer light (or creating it in the studio) is by far the quickest and most effective way to improve your portrait photography without doing anything else.

Outdoors, look for areas of open shade or take advantage of overcast days where the light is diffused by the cloud cover. Of course, golden hour will provide you with amazing light most of the time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and search for pockets of diffused, flattering light at any other time of the day.

Image: For soft light in the studio, big modifiers in close will do the job just great.

For soft light in the studio, big modifiers in close will do the job just great.

In the studio, make sure that you are using as big of a modifier as you have. If the light is still too hard, you can diffuse your light with a diffuser (yes, I know that might require another purchase, and I apologize for that), or you can move the light closer to your subject.

Just remember that the bigger the apparent light source is to your subject, the softer the light is.

Is all this to say that you shouldn’t use hard light for portraits? Absolutely not. Hard light can make for wonderful portraits, but in a lot of cases, and especially as you are starting out, you will find it beneficial to learn how to use and understand soft light first.

2. Light for the eyes

tips-to-improve-your-portrait-photography-immediately

Making your subject’s eyes a priority when you are lighting your images will ensure that the eyes are bright and remain the focal point of your images.

Eyes may be the most important part of a portrait. When your viewers look at photos of people, most of the time they engaging with the person’s eyes first. This is because that is how we humans engage with people in face-to-face scenarios. To make sure you get the very best from your subject’s eyes, start making sure that you light for the eyes at the beginning of every portrait session before you even take your first frame.

To do this, watch your subject’s eyes carefully as you arrange the light, whether that be outdoors or in the studio. Direct your subject (or move your light source if you can) so that the catchlight in their eye is near the top of their eye. It also helps if the light is going directly into their eyes. This will help you to get the most detail in your subject’s eyes.

You will also find that making the eyes a priority at the capture stage means that you will rarely have to do anything to them in post-processing.

In short, light from above whenever possible and direct your subject’s pose so that the light is going into their eyes.

Image: If you use a really big light source (i.e. to get softer light), the less bright the eyes wil...

If you use a really big light source (i.e. to get softer light), the less bright the eyes will be. This is a good thing to keep in mind as you start looking towards big octaboxes and parabolic umbrellas.

As an aside, the softer the light source, the less detail will record in your subject’s eyes and the darker they will appear in your images. The harder the light source, the more detail.

This will only become an issue if you are using really, really big modifiers in the studio, or if there’s particularly heavy cloud cover. You should be fine if you’re using medium (normal) sized modifiers.

If your goal is simply to get the most detail possible out of your subject’s eyes, you might need to go for a harder light source. You could also mix light sources so that your subject’s eyes are lit by a hard light source, but there is still a softer light source evening-out the contrast in your images.

3. Rapport

tips-to-improve-your-portrait-photography-immediately

Having a good rapport and good communication with your subjects is the best way to get the best expressions out of them.

It should probably go without saying that if you are serious about undertaking portrait photography, then your people skills are going to be paramount to your success. In order to get the best reactions and poses, and to keep your subjects comfortable and engaged, you should build a rapport with each and every subject. Every person is different and no two techniques or methods will work the same with everyone, so you will need to build a catalog of techniques to help you encourage the best from people.

You can start by always, always being polite. Stay positive and complimentary even if things are going completely wrong. Instead of saying: “this isn’t right,” try something along the lines of “This is cool, let’s move on to something else.”

Also remember that as the focus of your portrait is the person you are photographing, so should your attention be. Talk about your subject, and let them talk about themselves.

Try to avoid talking about your photography and definitely avoid technical jargon. Unless you are photographing a photographer, nobody cares. I know that’s tough to hear as you as a photographer care deeply about that stuff, but nobody else does. The confusion and disinterest that those topics inspire in other people will clearly show in the final photos.

If you remember that it’s not about you or your photography, but the person in the photo, you mostly can’t go wrong.

4. Background

Image: On location, making sure your backgrounds are clean and distraction-free is a vital skill to...

On location, making sure your backgrounds are clean and distraction-free is a vital skill to develop.

This is one of those skills that once you learn, you will start to do it automatically and never have to think about it again. In the beginning, however, it is vital to pay close attention to the backgrounds in your images. Ensure there are no extraneous elements creeping into the frame. Make sure there’s nothing like poles, trees, or cars intersecting your subject. If your background is blurred with a shallow depth of field, make sure there are no blobs of contrasting color or value that take away attention from your subject.

In short, pay as much attention to your backgrounds as you do your subjects and ensure that they are clean and distraction-free.

tips-to-improve-your-portrait-photography-immediately

Background clutter is just as much of a pain in the studio. Lights, cables, reflectors, edges of the background all seem to find a way to creep into the frame.

This is easier to do in the studio environment, but there are still things that you can look out for. Avoid using wrinkled backdrops (they never, ever look good). With plain walls, look out for marks and cracks from subsidence or similar. Just taking a moment to pay attention to these small details can help to improve your photos immensely. It’s also a lot easier to spot these things and deal with them in the moment than it is to retouch them out of your photos later.

5. Get close

tips-to-improve-your-portrait-photography-immediately

Filling the frame with your subject will help to emphasize the focal point of your image.

It was Robert Capa who said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

Out of all the photography quotes ever quoted, this is the one I find the most useful by far. It applies to all genres of photography in general, but in portraiture, it’s a particularly important concept. Whatever the focus of your photos (people in this case), ensuring that that your subject is the focal point, and the only focal point in the image, is important. Get close and fill the frame. In most cases, you don’t need much background, and in a lot of cases, you don’t need any background at all.

Doing this helps you to make sure there are no distracting elements in your images. It also helps to emphasize that your portrait is a portrait of a person and nothing else. Sure, there are plenty of instances when you want more background in your images.

Environmental portraiture is a fantastic genre that I love to look at, but if you look at some of the best examples of these, you will probably find that the subject still dominates the frame. The background is just ancillary information that is used to complement the focus on the subject rather than detract from it.

tips-to-improve-your-portrait-photography-immediately

All that said, the use of dead space is a valuable and wonderful compositional element.

Another instance you might opt not to get too close is when you want to use dead space as a design element or perhaps for editorial photography. That’s also fine. The key in these situations is to know when to be close and get a tight-framed portrait, and when to step back and let more into the frame. Most of the time with portraits, however, you will be well-served by getting in close and filling the frame.

The beginning

There you have it, that’s a few tips that will help you to improve your portrait photography without spending another penny. Perhaps not all of these tips will suit you and your photography, but I encourage you to try to implement them for the sake of seeing what you can learn from them anyway.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and if you have any tips you feel should be shared with beginners to help improve their portrait photography, please do leave them in the comments.

The post Simple Tips to Improve Your Portrait Photography Immediately appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by John McIntire.

How to Choose Urban Landscapes for Portrait Photography

The post How to Choose Urban Landscapes for Portrait Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

dps-urban-landscapes-for-portrait-photography

Are you bored of doing portrait shoots in the studio or the local park? Try mixing things up with an urban portrait shoot. The city streets, the buildings, the laneways – this is your cinematic backdrop. All you need is a little bit of planning and a lot of imagination. If you’ve never done a shoot like this before, you might be wondering how to choose locations. In this article, I will run you through my process of choosing urban landscapes for portrait photography

urban-landscapes-for-portrait-shoots

Bailey in a window, Brisbane. I took this shot with some off-camera flash outside my local library. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 23mm f1.4 lens.

An urban portrait shoot in my city? No way!

You may think that your city or your town has nothing of interest, but it does. You just have to look with a fresh perspective. Sometimes I’ll be on a photo walk with another photographer, and they don’t seem to see the potential that their town has to offer. “Wow, look at that doorway!” I’ll say. With a puzzled face, they reply, “It’s just a doorway!” 

No, it’s not just a doorway – it’s a potential scene in your next urban portrait shoot. 

Image: Sasha, Brisbane. I used these old street lamps as an element in the shoot. Fujifilm X-T3 with...

Sasha, Brisbane. I used these old street lamps as an element in the shoot. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 56mm f1.2 lens.

Every town or city I’ve ever been to has its charms and a unique look: from modern glass and steel skyscrapers to historic buildings to run-down industrial areas. There are so many aspects of urban locations that you could include in your shoots: laneways, street art, doorways, neon signs, steel shutters, and traffic trails, just to name a few. 

There’s also the unique way that light falls in urban environments: harsh beams of light that fall between buildings, beautiful soft light that you find in doorways and under bridges, and in Brisbane, dazzling light reflecting off skyscrapers. The possibilities are endless.

The best time for an urban portrait shoot

The best time for an urban portrait shoot is whenever you and your client or model are both available. Regardless of the light, the weather, or the locations. The success of the photoshoot is ultimately in your hands. 

My favorite time for doing urban portrait shoots is just before dusk. This allows you to get a good mix of golden hour photos with sunlight, blue hour photos as the city lights come into play and nighttime shots with artificial light. 

urban-landscapes-for-portrait-shoots

Alyssa in an industrial alleyway, Brisbane. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 60mm f2.4 lens.

Location scouting

I usually run portrait shoots for around 90-minutes, allowing me to shoot in 6-8 locations. 

It’s best to do your location scouting at the same time of day that your shoot will take place. This is so you can look at the light, see how it falls, and plan accordingly. In practice, though, I usually end up doing my scouting during the day. 

Before I arrange the shoot, I take some time to wander about the city to find 8-10 locations close together. The reason I look for more places than I’ll need is to be flexible on the shoot. Cars or trucks can block alleyways, big crowds could move through the area at the time of the shoot, or the lighting could be all wrong. There’s a whole lot of things that could make the location unsuitable when you arrive at the scene.

Although it’s tempting to plan to shoot in two locations at opposite ends of town, unless you have easy access to transport on the day of the shoot, it will be impractical. Photoshoots can be tiring for everyone, so asking your client or model to walk several city blocks and back again to shoot in one location may not be the best idea. 

What to take during location scouting

When you’re scouting for locations, have a notepad and pen ready along with your smartphone. When you see somewhere that you like, take a photo on your phone for reference and jot down some notes. I always draw a map of the city streets in my notebook. Then I plot the locations on it and plan a direction for the shoot.

What I’m looking for during my walk is a cool urban location in which to place the client or model. Some locations will leap out at you, and you will know that you should take some photos there. Others may not reveal their charm until later when the lights are low. 

Image: Natasha, Brisbane. I like the very subtle reflection in the polished stone wall behind her. F...

Natasha, Brisbane. I like the very subtle reflection in the polished stone wall behind her. Fujifilm X-T3 with 56mm f1.2 lens

As you’re wandering around, there’s a couple of things you need to keep in mind:

Imagination

What is this place going to look like at dusk or nighttime? Remember that for many shots, you will be shooting with a wide-open aperture, or close to wide open, so many of the details in the background will be blurred. 

Potential risks

It may look cool, but is this place dangerous in any way? Think of how you will place the model or client in this scene – are there any risks that you need to be mindful of? Is there a lot of traffic? Is it a dangerous neighborhood? You should consider all of this when you’re planning, as safety should be your top priority for these shoots.

Below are some of my go-to shots when I plan an urban photoshoot. I took all of these within a few blocks of each other in central Brisbane, Australia. 

Neon lights

Neon shots are a favorite with the Instagram crowd, and it’s easy to see why. They are so much fun and a great image idea to have up your sleeve.

Neon signs are something that, quite honestly, I never usually notice. However, as soon as you start looking for them, you’ll be amazed at how many your town has.

urban-landscapes-for-portrait-shoots

Alyssa, Brisbane. This neon light is outside a takeaway shop in central Brisbane. I was attracted to the three different colors the sign had.

Beer kegs outside a pub

As soon as I saw these beer kegs in a laneway outside a pub, I knew I wanted to incorporate them in a shoot. I’ve used them as both a background element and also as a prop for models to sit on.

In this shot of Anne, I struck gold. By chance, it was one of the busiest days for pubs in the year – Melbourne Cup Day. There were a few dozen kegs in a laneway all stacked on one another. I lit this shot with an LED video light.

urban-landscapes-for-portrait-shoots

Anne in front of beer kegs, Brisbane. I love the shape, color, and reflection of the kegs in the background. Fujifilm X-T3 with an 8-16mm f2.8 lens lit with an LED video light.

Laneways

Many Australian cities are blessed with alleyways. In many ways, they are the perfect place for photoshoots. Expect atmospheric lighting, an industrial look, street art – and best of all – little traffic. While Melbourne may be the laneways capital of Australia, Brisbane has many too.

Image: Natasha in a laneway, Brisbane. I like the color and bokeh that some tiny blue fairy lights p...

Natasha in a laneway, Brisbane. I like the color and bokeh that some tiny blue fairy lights provided in this shot. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 56mm f1.2 lens.

Telephone booth

This is a really fun place to use for some shots – if you can still find one these days. You may also have to take some time to explain to younger clients or models on how to use a public payphone!

urban-landscapes-for-portrait-shoots

Alyssa in a phone booth in Brisbane. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 35mm f1.4 lens.

Reflections

Reflections are a go-to image idea for urban portrait shoots. Many buildings provide you with glass or reflective surfaces.

Image: Anne looking into a mirrored surface, Brisbane. Fujifilm X-T2 with a 56mm f1.2 lens.

Anne looking into a mirrored surface, Brisbane. Fujifilm X-T2 with a 56mm f1.2 lens.

Old signage

I love history and nostalgia, but sadly there isn’t much left in my city. One day I noticed this sign and thought I’d love to do some shots here.

Image: Sasha in front of a sign, Brisbane. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 16mm f1.4 lens.

Sasha in front of a sign, Brisbane. Fujifilm X-T3 with a 16mm f1.4 lens.

Take your next portrait shoot to the streets

Urban portrait shoots can be a lot of fun. If you’ve never done one before, I hope that this guide has inspired you to look around your city for urban landscapes for portrait photography.

For your first time, you can always ask a friend to be your model if you want to try things out and see how the images look. Practice makes perfect.

Remember, safety is a very important factor in a shoot like this – both for your client or model and for yourself.

Urban shoots have helped me grow as a photographer. I feel more creative, I see possibilities for images in the mundane, and they’ve also helped me to think on my feet and improvise. ­­­­

So what are you waiting for? An endless array of scenes is right on your doorstep. Take your next portrait shoot to the streets.

Do you have any other tips for scouting urban landscapes for portrait photography? Share with us in the comments!

The post How to Choose Urban Landscapes for Portrait Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

Which Way? When to Photograph in Portrait or Landscape Orientation

The post Which Way? When to Photograph in Portrait or Landscape Orientation appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

The standard camera sensor is rectangular in shape – a configuration that allows for both portrait and landscape orientations.

But is landscape orientation crucial to the execution of a landscape photograph? Must portraiture always be photographed in portrait orientation?

Plus, what if you’re photographing a subject that’s neither a portrait nor a landscape? What orientation works best?

In this article, we’ll have a look at how to choose between a portrait or landscape orientation in photography.

portrait and landscape orientation examples

A bit of history

Landscape orientation

Portrait and landscape designations likely stem from the orientations of canvasses used in art.

The dimensions of a horizontal rectangle best accommodate the wide vistas depicted by landscape artists. This earned the format its landscape title.

However, the landscape orientation is not restricted to landscape photos. Yes, landscape masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh, Hokusai, and Monet have been in a landscape format. But artists like Sandro Botticelli and Wassily Kandinsky have created non-landscape art using landscape orientation. Frans Lanting, Andreas Gursky, and Gregory Crewdson all depict photographic subjects with the landscape orientation.

It’s the same for portrait photography. Photographers such as Robert Frank and Annie Lebovitz have approached portraiture in a landscape format.

horizontal orientation leaf

The landscape orientation of this image of a leaf conveys a more relaxed viewing approach

Portrait orientation

A canvas taller than it is wide has become known as portrait orientation.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring are famous examples of portraits depicted in the traditional format. And Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother and Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl are well-known examples of portrait photography executed in a portrait format.

But portrait orientation isn’t limited to depicting people. Painters like Rachel Ruysch and Claude Monet worked in a portrait format to accommodate non-human subject matter.

And Edward Henry Weston used a portrait format to lend a formal quality to his investigations of organic materials, while the Bechers made hundreds of portrait-oriented images of urban landmarks.

vertical leaf abstract

The portrait orientation of this leaf abstract lends a more formal quality to the image.

Should you use portrait or landscape orientation?

Fitting the subject

One of the deciding factors in choosing between a portrait or landscape orientation is the dimensions of the subject itself.

In terms of framing the face and body of a human, a portrait format can be ideal. The vertical nature of the human body works well with a portrait orientation.

Vertical subjects like tall buildings, trees, and waterfalls may also require a portrait orientation to be captured in their entirety.

vertical orientation flower

Subjects made up of horizontal elements (like aircraft and landscapes) can fit better in landscape orientation.

Landscape orientation can also provide more room for incorporating additional elements into a photograph.

This is particularly useful in genres of photography like environmental portraiture, where the setting of the photograph is as important as the subject.

horizontal or vertical horizontal airplane

Because of the dimensions of aircraft, aviation photography is often carried out in a landscape orientation

Emphasis

The orientation of an image contributes significantly to visual emphasis.

A portrait orientation exaggerates the upright extension of subjects in a photograph. But a portrait orientation also speaks to our associations with tall subjects, emphasizing a sense of independence, wonder, modernity, and even superiority or unease.

In contrast, a landscape orientation places extra emphasis on space, illustrating ease and immersion.

In the simple example below you can see the different emphasis being placed on the floral silhouettes.

The portrait example emphasizes the energetic, upright quality of the flower. The landscape orientation creates a more relaxed perspective.

flower silhouette example

Cropping

Every photographic situation is different and sometimes an element in a potential image is less than ideal.

If there are elements present within a photo that you would rather omit, switching camera orientations might help achieve a more polished image, either in-camera or in post-processing.

Cropping out excess information with a portrait orientation will simplify an image and minimize distractions.

Switching from a portrait to landscape orientation will decrease image height, prioritizing the horizontal flow in a photograph instead.

abstract horizontal of water

Formality vs relaxation

Over time, our historic use of image orientation has associated specific visual qualities with both portrait and landscape formats.

Portrait orientation is associated with the formality of historic portraiture. It is also associated with being upright, which is attached to wakefulness, sociability, and energy.

A landscape format, on the other hand, can lend a more relaxed, organic impression to a photograph. So a horizontal orientation is associated with laying down, lending a more tranquil quality to an image.

woven mat

Conclusion

Choosing between a portrait or landscape orientation isn’t easy. There are many aspects to consider, and the orientation of an image depends heavily on the situation.

But if you understand the benefits and drawbacks of different orientations, you’ll be in a good position to decide which orientation to use!

Do you lean towards portrait or landscape orientation? Share with us in the comments!

 

portrait-or-landscape-orientation

The post Which Way? When to Photograph in Portrait or Landscape Orientation appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day

The post How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

Golden hour is famous for being the most ideal lighting for portraits, especially at a beach location. Unfortunately, sometimes, the golden hour isn’t an option. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to photograph portraits at any time of the day. That way, you can always create beautiful photos for clients.

Know where the sun is at all times

First, you’ll need to know where the sun is at all times. The easiest way to do this is to use an ephemeris (I personally use this one). This is a tool that can help you see where the sun will be at any time during the day.

Here you can see where the sun will rise from, set, and the times when these will be happening during the day.

Before, or even while you’re scheduling your session, you can quickly check this tool to see the sunrise, midday, and sunset times.

An ephemeris can give you the details on the direction the light is coming from at a particular point in the world. Simply plug in the location of your session, and you can see all of the important details.

Here we can see where the sun will be on this particular day at the same time on the opposite coast in Mexico from the previous photos.

This is really helpful since no beach is alike and the direction of light differs from one side of the world to another. For example, in California, the sun sets behind the beach. Whereas on the east coast, the sun sets in the opposite direction.

Here we can see where the sun will be on this particular day at the same time on the opposite coast in Mexico from the previous photos.

Also, different beaches may face differently and therefore it’s good to know where the sun will be during your session.

Morning light

Morning light on a beach is magical. It has a whole different color temperature than that of the golden hour and can provide a nice soft glow if you have your session early enough.

The light is a little bluer, and depending on the beach where your session is taking place, the sun can rise overlooking the ocean or peaking through the trees. For example, a beach on the east coast like Cancun can mean during your session in the morning you’ll catch the sunrise behind the beach.

Alternatively, on a beach in California, you’ll catch the sun hitting the water from the land side. This will give you that beautiful yellowish-blue glow if your session is before 9 o’clock in the morning.

On the left we see the sun rising behind the bay and at right is after the sun is nearing midday.

Use a simple reflector to bounce light back onto your subject if you feel the sunrise light causes shadows. This is especially useful if sunrise is behind the water at the beach.

Midday light

Midday light at a beach is pretty harsh and therefore it’s good to have some kind of additional lighting equipment to help with shadows. You can use an external flash, popup flash, or a reflector.

Seeing the shadows in front of your clients means the sun is behind them. This family is lit with an external flash mounted on-camera pointed directly at them.

You can also go without an additional light source. However, it’s good to underexpose your photos a bit so you can bring up the shadows in your editing software. Otherwise, you’ll end up with really blown out skies. Of course, this all depends on your style of photography.

Using the sand as a natural reflector helps to bounce light back onto your clients as we can see in both of these photos.

When the sun is at it’s highest point during the day, it might be a good time to take your clients under the shade of some trees nearby or opt to have more playful photos of the family. Have your client’s walk, run, splash in the water, build sandcastles, or just have a bit of fun together.

The sun is at it’s highest at different times around the world, so make sure to check the ephemeris for your exact location to know the time.

Same session, same beach, one photo with flash and one photo without.

Once the sun passes the highest point, it will be at a bit of an angle as it starts to go down for sunset. This is the sweet spot of photographing during midday sun at the beach!

Flash was used to correctly expose the photo and fill in shadows caused by the sun.

When the sun is at a bit of an angle, you can pose your clients with the sun behind them to alleviate having the sun in their eyes. This means you’ll be in the sun, but it’s better than having your clients facing the sun. This avoids causing shadows, uneven lighting, and squinting. The sand can also work as a natural reflector, bouncing light back into their faces.

After midday light

After midday light can be different in the winter than in the summer given that daylight savings can change the amount of light you have left. Either way, the sun sits lower to be at an angle behind your clients. All while still hitting the sand to reflect some light into your client’s faces.

During this time, depending on the angle of light, you can get some really interesting light. It gets more golden by the hour as you approach sunset.

Still, if you find yourself at a beach where the light is still harsh during this time, try and angle your clients away from the sun. You can also try and use your external lighting to help fill in some light.

Golden Hour (Sunset)

Actual sunset only lasts about 5-10 minutes. However, golden hour is just that – about an hour before the sun dips behind the horizon, which means the angle of the light is pretty low and directional. It can mean flooding your photos with lots of that pretty golden light. However, it also makes it difficult to capture your clients evenly lit against the background.

This is especially troublesome if the sun sets behind the water. It can be difficult capturing the beautiful colors of the sunset while also lighting your clients.

Using a flash or external light source pointed directly at your clients can help light them while capturing the sunset behind. You can also underexpose your photo a bit to bring up the shadows later without compromising the sunset.

Try silhouetting your clients behind with the sunset light to offer a different look to the final images.

Golden hour is also a perfect time to turn your clients toward the setting sun to get that beautiful golden color cast on their skin tones and in the overall look of the photo.

Blue hour (After sunset)

Blue hour is the 20-30 minutes (sometimes less time) after the sun has completely gone from view. Blue hour is nice to photograph in because of the beautiful sunset colors like blue, orange, pink, and purples that come out after sunset. The lighting is a bit darker, so you might need a tripod.

During the blue hour, you can get some additional light on your clients by facing them where the sun has set.

During this time you can attempt some slow shutter speed photos while your clients hold still. Getting the movement in water can create a more fine art approach to beach photos!

During any time of day try these ideas:

Cloudy days are perfect for photographing at any time during the day. However, you might not get the sunset as bright as on a clear day.

It doesn’t matter the time of day, it’s good to get variety in your portraits during beach sessions. For that try some of these ideas:

  • Rock formations/caves as backgrounds and also shelter from harsh light.
  • Trees can provide shade as well if the light is harsh and the day is particularly hot.
  • Around town can also serve as a nice background for photos while you’re waiting for the midday sun to angle a bit.
  • Up high can also serve as a nice way to keep clients out of harsh sunlight. For example, a balcony in their hotel room, a higher terrace with some shade that overlooks the ocean, etc.
  • Photographing more lifestyle-type photos with the family playing, getting in the water, and just having a “beach day”.

If you are waiting for the sun to go down a bit, you can take some portraits near trees that aren’t directly on the beach. This also adds variety to the final images.

Conclusion

Photographing at the beach during golden hour isn’t the only time that you can create one-of-a-kind and amazingly beautiful images for your clients.

Taking cover in caves or using rock formations as backgrounds can also help keep your client out of direct sunlight.

It is incredibly beneficial to learn to photograph at the beach at any time of the day. Moreover, it can mean the difference between a client choosing you and another photographer.

 

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The post How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Anytime of the Day appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

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