Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Natural Light Portraiture

I like to classify Natural Light Portraiture into indoor and outdoor portraiture and I’d like to focus on indoor portraiture here. Indoors the light is easier to control both in regard to the subject and the background, the area can be divided into sunlight or shadow areas and these areas can be used together to achieve a desired look. 

Many of the same rules apply to Natural Light Portraiture as they would when adding artificial light. Indoors, window light is your main source and when it is diffused by clouds outside it is a large soft light, beautiful and elegant. Big light will fill lines on a face resulting in a smoother more pleasing appearance. And best of all it's free! :-) If you wanted to create similar light with flash you would need a large expensive flash unit and light modifier.


Some suggestions in regard to portraiture would be:
  • Avoid back-lighting the subject, at least don’t have the face in shadow. Even for high key images you have to get light into and expose for the face. 
  • Avoid dark eyes, a.k.a. the raccoon effect. Get the light into those eyes. 
  • Keep the head clean. Don’t have any wires or lines going through the head and keep the head free of other elements in the frame. This can be done in a number of ways including: a selective dept of field, creative lighting and of course composition. 
  • Keep the nose from breaking the face. When the nose extends beyond the face it tends to make the nose look longer. Some people call this the Pinocchio effect. 
My three basic rules are to get as much light into the eyes as possible, open the lens wide and focus on the closest eye. I’ve found following these three suggestions will lead to some great portraits.

Do you have any suggestions or recommendations of your own? It’d be great to hear from you, always willing to learn.

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