Bite Size Tips: 3 Wonderful Lighting Conditions For Portraits


Photography is all about light and when it comes to portrait photography, you need some beautiful lighting conditions to get the perfect image. Whether using natural or artificial lighting, there are so many ways in which portraits can be lit. If you do not use artificial lights, you can use the naturally available light (try as much to avoid harsh sunlight) in the right way to create some stunning portraits.

Three Wonderful Lighting Conditions For Creating Stunning Portraits

1. Light On An Overcast Day: An overcast day can be a favorite day for portrait photographers who wish to shoot using natural light as the clouds act as a giant light diffuser, making the sunlight very soft and the colors in your image richer. You do not need to look for a shady place or a time when the sun will be low to avoid creating harsh shadows on your model. Make sure you still keep the sun behind you so that your model is uniformly illuminated.

Image by Langll

2. Backlighting: One of the most beautiful ways to light a portrait is having the model backlit using the sun (better in the golden hours), but be very careful, as you will need to practice a lot to nail these type of shots. You may have to use spot metering depending on how much light variation you have in the frame and learn to use exposure settings correctly to compensate for the backlight. Make use of exposure compensation or use a reflector to reflect off some light back to the model’s face.

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3. Diffused Window Light: Window light can be used to light up a subject to create some dramatic portraits as the side light can illuminate one side of the subject leaving the other side in little or complete darkness depending on the strength of available light inside and outside. This is a wonderful way to light your subject and if you wish to illuminate the darker side of your subject to create a different mood in the image, you can use a reflector to reflect some window light back to the model’s shadowy side.

Image by Demeter Attila

Now these tips are some of the stable tactics of solid portrait photographers, but you can take things a lot further. If you are into portrait photography and would like to understand light to create better portraits, make sure you check out Understanding Light by Photzy. It goes well beyond these basic ideas and will get you some great results.

About Author

Dahlia is a stock photographer and full time educator at Light Stalking. You can find her on Gurushots and see some of her more popular articles at The American Society of Media Photographers. Get to know her better here.

Portrait photography is all about the light. My favourites are the backlit shots, I think I will always love them. But a close second is the window lit shots too. I have taken literally hundreds of shots of my kids near windows, there is something really special about portraits with window lights too, thanks for sharing – great tips.

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