Who hasn’t done outdoor portrait photography? When you go out there with your camera along with family or friends, sooner or later you’re bound to end up taking pictures out in the bright sun. Although it may sound like a simple task, there is more to it. You might not be getting the best results after all. In this article we aim to bring you a series of tips to keep in mind the next time you want to do some outdoor portraits.
The General problem
When amateur photographers think of outdoor portrait photography, usually they think of sunlight. However, beginners rarely understand how and when to use sunlight, the differences between direct and indirect sunlight and the advantages of shooting in foggy or cloudy weather conditions. The first thing to remember about outdoor photography is that most subjects should not be not photographed at sharp noon on a sunny day. Why you ask? Bright light from above creates hard shadows and shiny surfaces, resulting in too much contrast. This is especially problematic when photographing people, the sunlight tends to create dark shadows on the face. If the sun is low on the horizon, then you have more options. On the other hand, you can also place the object with the sun to the side or the back, creating a partial or full shade.
Here are some tips to take great pictures outdoors on a sunny day.
Use a fill flash.
We can avoid dark facial shadows by using the function or settings related to flash on your camera. Many flash drives also have this feature. Just turn on the feature in flash and the camera automatically makes the necessary adjustments.
If you do not have the Flash Fill feature, just try turning on the flash as if you’re taking photographs of interiors, it is likely to get satisfactory results if you are not too close to your subject.
Use a reflective surface.
This can be a professional, foldable, white, silver or gold reflector or a large white board. Although it is not a practical solution for taking pictures of active children, this method works great for still photography, and photographing flowers on a sunny day.
For outdoor portraits, the subject can be comfortably seated on a bench or blanket on the floor. Then we experience the reflective surface moving around until the face is pleasantly light, placing the reflective surface just outside the picture frame. Make sure to take some photos for a good selection to choose from!
Go to a place with more shade.
It is important that your camera reads the shadows well, so that the focal point (the center of the image) points to the shaded area and not a spot of bright sunshine behind the brighter object, otherwise the subject will mostly appear as a silhouette. The shadow helps to soften the light and removes the dark shadows and rough edges.
When the sun is in front of the photographer, coming directly into the camera, we have what is known as backlighting, i.e., the subject is backlit.
This type of lighting can be very effective for people out in the bright sun. When subjects are lit from the front, there can be uncomfortable sensation which makes many squint. A backlight helps eliminate this problem.
The backlight can also require the use of a reflector or fill flash to illuminate dark shadows and improve the detail of the subject or object. This type of lighting is also used to produce an effect of a silhouette. When a backlight is used, we must prevent the sun’s rays from falling directly on the lens (except when it comes to special effects). A hood or some other means of shading the lens should be used to prevent lens flare.
What kind of lens do I need to use?
There are many options when it comes to the type of lens that you should use for outdoor portrait photography. Ideally, you should use lens with a larger focal length to squeeze a little perspective, which can often be more flattering. The EF 70-200mm or the Canon F2.8L, should be perfect. They are the Kings of full-frame cameras with zoom, and offer versatility that cannot be beaten, and the picture quality is simply amazing.
For those of you who are looking for prime lenses, there are plenty of good reasons why the Canon 135mm F2L is rated so high. If you are more on a budget, the Canon EF 85mm f1.8 is one of the fastest focusing lenses that is available. The yield on the sensor 50mm F1.8 is also worth a look. Do lots of research and pick the one which suits your budget the best!
Outdoor portrait photography is all about being adventurous!
Remember that some of the best outdoor shots can be captured even under adverse weather conditions. Consider how dramatic cloud formations can add interest to an ordinary landscape, or how a morning fog can change the mood of a photograph on the seashore. Go out and take pictures of storm clouds and unusual weather. Capture the beauty of the cold winter weather, as snow and ice can create wonderful possibilities when shooting portraits. Be wild and be expressive! Outdoor portrait photography is all about such an expedition, if not for anything else!