Lighting is in the Eye of the Beholder

beholder1-1All the ingredients for outdoor portraits are easy to find: You need are a subject, camera and  light but like any good recipe it’s how these components are prepared that goes into cooking up a delicious portrait.

Light has four basic elements: quality, quantity, color, and direction. If there’s any secret at all about shooting with natural light, it’s learning to see the range of shadows and highlights that occur within a scene. Italian Renaissance painters called it chiaroscuro, being able to use contrast to achieve a sense of dimension within a two dimensional frame.

beholder1-2Take a look at a pair of available light images of two different young women made outdoors under similar lighting conditions. The models are about the same age and are even wearing outfits that while different stylistically are similar in color. Even the pose is similar but the biggest difference is the model’s attitude. The photograph at left was made at a model shoot in Arizona and was captured using a Canon EOS 50D and (now discontinued) EF 135mm f/2.8 SF lens with an exposure of 1/200 sec at f/3.4 and ISO 200.

When making the right-hand photograph I was still struggling with idea of photographing people but was far more confident when making the left-hand one one. This image was made at a small park in Colorado and was shot with a Contax Aria and Carl Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 lens on Kodak ISO 200 color negative film, exposure unrecorded. Is one better than the other? That’s up to the viewer and ultimately the person being photographed but I know that both models liked their photographs.

On this blog there are lots of posts about portrait posing. Use the Search box on the upper right-hand corner and type “posing” to find appropriate posts. If you want something more lasting, take a look at my book “Posing for Portrait and Glamour Photography that’s available from your friendly neighborhood camera store as well as Amazon


Author: Joe Farace

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