Shooting outdoor portraits can be challenging but fun. Doing shoots in the midst of nature can be beautiful and soothing. At the same time, the unpredictable weather can ruin a shoot. Nevertheless, it can be more rewarding if you know what to do to capture those satisfying shots.
Don’t know how to get started? Here are some tips to help you out:
1) Avoid autofocus for portraits
When you pick the autofocus option and let your camera to select focus points, you are doing your portraits a terrible disservice. This feature is usually designed to pick whatever is closest to the lens and focus there. In some cases, the camera will choose a cluster of focus points and just make a “best guess” based on averaging the distance between all of the chosen points. Using one focus point gives you, the photographer, better control for better shots overall.
2) Always focus on the eyes
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul and are thus important for portrait photography. it is but right that they should be the focal point of any good portrait. They also happen to be the sharpest element on the face and should be left that way.
3) Shoot wide open for shallow depth of field
There are some reasons why a portrait photographer, or even a wedding photographer in Cardiff, should invest in a lens capable of wide apertures; the most common is for shallow depth of field. Most fantastic natural light portraits are from wide aperture values and it is all because of the wonderful smooth background blur we call “bokeh”.
4) Make it a point to shoot a portrait at 70mm or higher
The last thing you want to hear from a client is “Why does my head look swollen?” Any focal length below 70mm can distort your subject, however it doesn’t become very noticeable until you are below 50 MM. The compression effect of a telephoto lens will also increase the blur of bokeh, which would create better portraits in the process.
5) Always shoot in RAW
It is the most repeated reminder that photographers hear. And it is worth repeating it here: always shoot in RAW. When you shoot in JPEG format, everything but what the image processor needs to make a shell representation of the image you intended to capture is stripped away. And every edit in JPEG makes you lose more data. With RAW, you can make a vast range of edits and affects little your photo’s overall quality, letting you do changes that you can still go back to if needed.
6) Shoot in the shade
Direct sunlight is harsh, makes your subject squint, and creates hard directional shadows and unpredictable white balance conditions. When shooting in the shade, there are no more harsh shadows, only smooth milky shadows created by your subject’s natural features. With proper exposure and white balance, you can make these shots look amazing.
7) Keep the power-lines and signs out
We have already discussed keeping your camera focused on the eyes; keep your mind focused on the image as a whole. Power lines, signs, long single blades of grass, single pieces of garbage, sometimes even trees can be serious distractions from the overall focus of the image, which is the person you are photographing.
Last, and most important, have a great time shooting, enjoy what you’re doing and it will show in your work, and the expression of your subject.