As a portrait photographer, one of the things I love most is taking portraits outdoors with natural light. There is something so beautiful and magical about capturing someone in their element, surrounded by nature.
Whether it's a family photo shoot, engagement session, or just a portrait of a friend, taking photos outdoors is always my favorite. And when the lighting is just right, it can make for some truly stunning portraits.
Here are some tips for taking great outdoor portraits with natural light:
1. Look for soft, diffused light
One of the keys to taking great outdoor portraits is finding soft, diffused light. This type of light is very flattering and makes skin look smooth and flawless.
The best time to take outdoor portraits is during the "golden hour" - the hour just before sunset or just after sunrise. The light during this time is soft and warm, and it creates beautiful shadows.
Another great time to take outdoor portraits is on a cloudy day. The clouds act as a natural diffuser and soften the light.
2. Use a reflector
If you can't find soft, diffused light, you can use a reflector to create it. A reflector is simply a piece of white or silver fabric that you hold under the subject's face to reflect light back up into their eyes and soften shadows.
You can buy reflectors at most camera stores, or you can DIY one by taping a piece of white poster board to a piece of cardboard.
3. Shoot in manual mode
When taking outdoor portraits, it's important to shoot in manual mode so that you have full control over the camera settings. This is especially important when shooting in direct sunlight, as the light can be very bright and can cause the photo to be overexposed.
In manual mode, you can set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to get the perfect exposure.
4. Use a lens hood
When shooting in direct sunlight, it's important to use a lens hood to avoid lens flare. Lens flare is when the light reflects off the lens and creates a bright spot in the photo.
A lens hood is a piece of plastic or metal that attaches to the front of the lens and blocks the sun.
5. Set your white balance
When taking outdoor portraits, it's important to set your white balance correctly so that the colors in the photo look natural.
For most outdoor portraits, I recommend setting the white balance to "daylight." This will make the colors in the photo look natural, even if the lighting isn't perfect.
6. Use a tripod
If you're shooting in low light or using a long focal length lens, it's a good idea to use a tripod to avoid camera shake. Camera shake is when the camera moves while the shutter is open, and it can cause the photo to be blurry.
A tripod will also allow you to use a lower ISO, which will result in less noise in the photo.
7. Use a remote shutter release
If you're using a tripod, it's a good idea to use a remote shutter release to avoid camera shake. A remote shutter release is a cord or wireless remote that you use to trigger the shutter.
This way, you don't have to touch the camera at all, which will eliminate any chance of camera shake.
8. Shoot in RAW
When taking outdoor portraits, I always recommend shooting in RAW format. RAW files are unprocessed and contain all of the data from the image sensor. This gives you a lot of flexibility when editing the photo.
If you shoot in JPEG format, the camera will process the photo for you and you won't be able to make as many changes in post-processing.
9. Experiment with different angles
One of the best things about taking outdoor portraits is that you can experiment with different angles and compositions.
Try shooting from different heights, distances, and angles to see what looks best. And don't be afraid to get creative!
10. Have fun!
The most important thing to remember when taking outdoor portraits is to have fun! Relax and enjoy the experience. The more fun you're having, the more it will show in your photos.