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Top 7 Natural Light Portrait tips that I’ve learnt

For a long time I’ve been known as a flash photography. Charging around the place with a bag full of LumoPro LP160’s some softboxes, umbrellas and of course stands. Recently I’ve been changing my habits a little and am shooting more and more with natural or available light.

I’m now using an awesome reflector product from LumoPro which I’ll share with you in the next couple of days.

Anyway back on track, so I started shooting a bit of natural light stuff earlier in the year and then went back to my old ways. It wasn’t until I started shooting street photography with my Fed 5 that I started to get back into using available light.

Last night I completed 1 of many natural/available light shoots and I thought I would share 7 tips that will help you get control of the light around you.

#1 Shoot into the sun

I remember as a young boy with a film point and shoot camera one of the rules of photography that I was taught was always have the sun behind you. In away this is great if you want squintie eyed models in your shots. Put the sun behind your model and you’ll get a much better look.

#2 Learn to manual focus

On of the major downfalls of shooting into the sun is that you camera will probably struggle to lock focus. Auto focus usually requires some contrast to be able to lock on and shooting into the sun pretty much removes all of that contrast and your lens will begin to hunt.

The easiest solution is to manual focus. Of course shooting into the sun also makes seeing through the view finder difficult so you will need a bit of practice to get this right.

#3 Shoot wide open

Shooting wide open or with a large aperture creates a beautiful soft look and some nice circular flare depending on your lens. This will mean you will need to a fast shutter speed.

#4 A Variable ND Filter is your friend

Shooting with a shallow depth of field or a large aperture lets in a lot of light. In some cases your cameras fastest shutter speed may not be enough or you may want some sort of other effect. A variable ND filter will allow you to gain anywhere between 2 to 10 stops, which can make all the difference.

#5 Get your timing right

When shooting natural light, the time of day plays a big part in your success or failure. Shooting in the late in the afternoon or early in the morning produces a much better quality of light.

#6 If you have to shoot in the middle of the day find open shade

Buildings, and trees are your friends. Usually you’ll be able to find some open shade somewhere which will produce nice even light. Middle of the day sun produces harsh shadows which isn’t very flattering for anyone.

#7 Sometimes you just need a little bit of fill

If you have an assistant a reflection can help bounce light back onto your subject evening out the light. If you don’t have an assistant to hold a reflector for you, try a little bit of fill flash.

Author Tristan

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