Shooting Outdoors_ Beautiful Portrait without Problems

Shooting Outdoors_ Beautiful Portrait without Problems

As you know, the sun for the whole day describes a semicircle across the sky, moving from the point of sunrise to the point of sunset. From the point of view of the nature of lighting when shooting outdoors , the positions of the sun are distinguished:

  • operating time – sunset and sunrise, when the sun is low above the ground, and it is convenient to use it as a back or side light source;
  • zenith – noon, when the sun is high directly overhead, the worst time to shoot outdoors. However, I will tell you a few tricks to use the midday sun to your advantage;
  • the position of the sun at 45 degrees relative to the ground, which is observed in the summer from about 8 to 11 and from 16 to 20. A good time for shooting portraits on the street. Studies have shown that it is at this time that the human eye can best distinguish the facial features of the people around it, so we remember people in this particular light. This means that the pictures at this time will seem the most natural.

Also, the nature of lighting when shooting outdoors largely depends on the weather outside the window. So, on a bright summer day, harsh lighting with high contrast awaits you. Hard light paints deep shadows with little to no midtones. If the exposure is incorrectly adjusted, there is a high risk of overexposure in the photograph. It will also be uncomfortable for the model to stand under the scorching sun and try not to squint.

If you have to shoot in bright sunlight, use a translucent reflector. Place it in the direction of the sun’s rays. Imagine that you are sifting light through a translucent fabric. If you haven’t had time to get a branded reflector, a piece of loose white fabric will do. Ask the assistant to pull it tighter so that bright sunlight passes through the fabric before hitting the model’s face.

The second way out of the situation is to take the model away from the building or from the tree. Avoid portraits in the shade of trees, where the foliage shadows fall on the subject’s face in several spots, creating an ugly cut-off pattern. Remember that the depth of the shadow decreases as you move away from the object that casts it. So, if you press close to the wall of the house from the shady side, then you will achieve minimal lighting. My advice is to look for beautiful light at the border of light and shadow. Try moving the model away from the wall and see how the lighting changes on the face and figure. Do I usually put the model at about a distance? from the border of light and shadow. Then the whole figure and face are evenly illuminated with soft light.

Using a reflector when shooting outdoors

To make the model stand out from its surroundings with natural light, I recommend using a reflector with a silver surface. Leave the subject in the shade and try to reflect the bright rays of the sun on her face. Remember that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, so position the reflector against the sun, as if you were throwing a sunbeam. Replacements for a factory reflector can be a car reflector, a piece of silver insulating material, a piece of cardboard covered with foil – anything that has a silver surface and is capable of reflecting light. As I recently read in an article by a wedding photographer: “Image is nothing. The result is everything. “

Why a silver reflector? Because it does not distort the color temperature of sunlight, unlike gold, for example. The gold reflector gives objects a warm tint and yellowish color, which is difficult to get rid of in a graphics editor. Also, a silver reflector has better reflective properties than, for example, white. “Silver” shines more, so I love it more.

Shooting outdoors at sunset.


At this time, the sun is low above the ground, which makes it possible to build beautiful lighting schemes right on the street. If you don’t care about the sunset sky itself and its bright colors, place the model face or half-side in the sun. It is better to illuminate the shadow side with a reflector, but you can shoot beautiful portraits outdoors without it.

If you want to capture all the colors of the sunset sky, you will have to either sacrifice the details on the model’s face, or use additional light sources. The fact is that in the backlight (when the setting sun is behind the model’s back), the dynamic range of the camera is not enough to properly expose both the bright sky and the model’s face. If you meter the subject’s face, the sky will be overexposed. If you set the exposure to the sky, then the model will turn into a dark silhouette. Silhouette photography also has its own flavor, but full-fledged portraits against the background of sunset look even more interesting.

To do this, use a reflector to illuminate the model. If the light intensity from the reflector is not enough, then additional sources are used – external flashes directly on the camera or on stands. You can use 1-4 flashes depending on the capabilities and the desired effect. Flash units can be used with umbrellas (for transmission or reflection) for a softer pattern, or without attachments (for more textured and harsh lighting).

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