Headshots in Natural Light

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by nighthunter, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. nighthunter

    nighthunter TPF Noob!

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    Hi everybody, I am new to this forum. I'm sure this has been discussed many times already, but I could use some tips about how to take good headshots/portraits. In particular with regards to how to figure out the lighting.

    Do most people here us a seperate light meter? Or do you use the meter in the camera? I have trouble trying to figure out what settings to use, whether to use flash or not, etc.

    Sometimes the shots come out okay and they actually have that "pop" and the eyes look great, but I can't seem to get this result consistently and that really bothers me.

    Any advice/tips would be highly appreciated.

    I have my eye on a Polaris Digital Light Meter SPD100, but not sure if this will help me?

    Oh, and I am currenty using a 50mm, 1.8, but will soon be using the 85mm, 1.8.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Samanax

    Samanax TPF Noob!

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  3. brettmc

    brettmc TPF Noob!

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    I would agree those are some pretty loaded questions. For good headshots pulling the flash off the camera is the first step. Taking a look at the strobist helped me out A LOT! Some people get along fine using the light meter in the camera, but some others use external light meters. I've never used an external light meter so I can't really answer that question.
    As far as eye "pop" it's tough for us to give specific examples, but making sure to focus on the eyes is a great way to make your overall picture pop. Also, making sure not to go all the way down to f/1.8 because then your DOF is very small and will usually end up with you only having like the tip of a nose in focus, just an FYI.
    Hope that helps
     
  4. chammer

    chammer TPF Noob!

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    i was under the impression that natural light meant just that...naturally lit scenes. no external lighting, just whatever natural light may come from a window, sliding glass door, etc. assuming its indoors.
     
  5. brettmc

    brettmc TPF Noob!

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    Wow, I can't believe I completely missed the point. My bad! I agree w/ chammer.
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    An in-camera meter can only measure reflected light. It can't measure incident or flash light, but your meter can. One of the most respected names in meters is Sekonic. You might want to consider their L-308s along with the Polaris.

    The 'pop' in a portrait usually comes from careful control of lighting ratios, like having the background a stop or two darker than your subject. Measuring that lighting ratio difference is where your light meter will help.

    Outside, reflectors and diffusers can be used to provide shadow modeling on your subjects face.

    An on camera flash can only provide fill lighting and should be used in manual mode at low power settings. OCF (off camera flash) can be used as main, kicker, hair and rim lighting creating various lighting effects.
     

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