When it comes to outdoor portrait photography, there is no one size fits all camera settings. As you already know, outdoor photography is very popular. Why? We are surrounded by beautiful landscapes that create stunning backgrounds for our photos. Basically, the outdoors is a potential studio which can turn a basic idea into a stunning photo.
While the outdoors offers a lot of portrait opportunities, each location has different features and challenges. To ensure the final photos look stunning, make sure that the subject and the landscape blend well. Doing so makes the photo interesting and also adds a little bit of fun.
Here are the best camera settings for outdoor portraits.
In photography, lighting is an important attribute that we cannot underestimate. It helps to bring your photos to life. When shooting, you will find out that the aspects of lights lie in quality. For instance, midday light is strong while evening light is soft.
Choosing the time of day can create a vital effect on your images. That is not all. The position of the subject is also an important factor to consider. If the subject is against a light or dark background, you need to contrast this accordingly. That is a lighter background for subjects in the shadow and a dark background for subjects in the light.
To avoid harsh contrasts and flares, keep the sun at a 45-degree angle to the subject’s face. Try to find overhanging branches to break the light. Don’t forget the white balance settings. For stunning photos, set it to auto white balance.
2. Dynamic range
When shooting sunset and sunrise photos, you will always have the dynamic range. This is the range of light values in your photo. When taking photos outdoors, you will note that the sky is very bright at sunrise. During sunset, the landscape is dark. This can be too much for the camera to handle. Taking photos, in this case, will result in a dark landscape and an overexposed sky. This is not good.
To remedy the situation, use the reverse density filter. This helps to even out the dynamic range. The filters work by brightening the landscape and reducing the sky brightness. You can also take a meter reading and shoot your photos in RAW. This ensures that both the landscape and the sky are well exposed. For any lost details in the photos, recover them during processing.
3. Use the correct lens
In photography, one has access to a wide variety of lens – 16 mm, 35 mm, 70 mm and 150 mm among others. Each lens has a role to play in outdoor photography. For instance, wide lens helps to enhance perspective and offers inclusive effects. They work by expanding lines and make subjects appear to be farther away. That is not all. Wide lens adds a feeling of depth. How? They include a lot of details.
A telephoto lens compresses the perspective. Basically, they make the subject appear separate from the background. Objects in the distance will appear closer and less 3D. So, if you do not want your subject to blend in with the landscape, use a telephoto lens.
Want to flatter your subject? Use the short telephoto lens – 85 to 100 mm. For full frame camera’s, use 135 to 150 mm lens. For group photos or a full-length pose, we recommend using a wide angle or normal lens.
4. Manual mode vs Aperture Priority
In photography, one has the choice of shooting in the following modes – Manual mode or Ap[erture Priority. If you are using a tripod, we recommend Manual Mode. For shooting handheld, Aperture Priority is the best mode.
Shooting using a tripod is best suited for night photography, long exposures and HDR bracketed shots. On the other hand, handheld is best suited for travel and street photography.
Manual mode is best for outdoor portraits as you don’t have to keep changing the settings. Even when other factors such as lighting change, you still don’t have to change the settings. Another advantage of using manual mode is that the subject has more confidence in your skills. As such, subjects will be willing to work with you and even offer better expressions.
In outdoor photography, we always want to achieve the highest quality possible. To avoid excessive noise, it is important to use the ISO setting. Basically, one should set it as low as possible – ISO 100 to 400.
For high-quality photos and consistency, maintain the right shutter speed. Start with ISO 400 and adjust the settings depending on your needs. You can decide to use ISO 800 or ISO 1600. This is applicable if the light is very low. Don’t forget to match ISO, shutter speed and aperture.
There you have it. The best camera settings for outdoor portraits suitable for beginners and advanced photographers. As a photographer, it is recommended that you take a few test shots and preview them on the camera’s LCD display. The reason for doing so is to ensure that the final photo looks stunning as you hoped.
To prevent camera shake in handheld shooting, use fast shutter speed.
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