Last weekend I went to a workshop on portrait photography. It was the first photography workshop I’ve ever attended! It was a very worthwhile experience and I thought I’d share a few things I learned for you budding photographers out there.
1. Note: this tip applies to DSLR users only. This is embarrassing, but I almost never take my camera settings off “Program”, which is basically automatic mode with a few things you can change like white balance and ISO. So when Daren, the instructor, told us we’d be shooting in manual, I was a little bit nervous. I’ve NEVER used manual mode before. The first picture I took came out completely white. I had to ask Daren to help me. He showed me that you can use the dial underneath the shutter button to quickly change the shutter speed and the aperture. You set your shutter speed depending on the lighting situation. If it’s a bright day, you’ll want a lower shutter speed, and if it’s not so bright, a higher shutter speed. So: use the manual setting! I was SO impressed by the results. You can do a much better job of getting the right exposure than your camera can, trust me. Play around with different shutter speeds and apertures until you get one you are happy with.
2. I learned about reflectors and scrims, which are used to create more light.
Reflectors use existing light where scrims use artificial light, but the white cloth diffuses it a little to make it look more natural. I might explore reflectors a little but scrims and lights are too much work and not really in the budget at this stage for me. Still, good to know for the future!
3. Flash: Daren showed us that when you are using an external flash(I need to get one of those…) you should point it upwards rather than directly at your subject. You’ll get a more natural looking photo.