Outdoor portrait attempt - help a newb!


TPF Noob!
May 5, 2010
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I am a terribly new photography hobbyist and I am practicing to shoot my girlfriend's senior portraits in a couple months.

These are my first attempts at outdoor portraits and I am not impressed with how they turned out. These shots were taken a little before sunset, Canon 40D - 50mm/1.8f. Natural light obviously.

I do not plan on investing in any off camera lighting other than a reflector for the actual shoot when I have someone to help.

Any help is appreciated.



Your main problem is shooting at F1.8 , F1.8 has a narrow depth of field which means you only get a small distance infront and behind of your focus point, try again at F5.6 and f8 your first shot is at F1.8 1/6400 so you have a lot of leeway in your settings
I don't think the f1.8 is too much of an issue if the eyes were in focus. A bit more depth of field may be desired but I shoot at f1.8 and like it.

I only like #2. She is frowning too much in #1 and #3 probably due to the low standing sun.
Direct sunlight is not flattering.

In all of these she is to orange.

While you are exploring how to do portraiture be sure and explore how to pose and how different types of lighting look.

What you have here is known as short lighting. There is also broad lighting, and with a reflector or two you can do butterfly or clamshell lighting.

Visit Kirk Voclain Photography and Jessica Edwards Photography for some guidance. Look closely at the backgrounds.
1) You're using the on camera flash cuz I can see the catch lights in her eyes. Generally garish but you've probably got it set on -1 or so as it's not overly powerful. Score: 0 2) You're also having her face in the sun, so she's on the verge of a squint. Score: -1 3) She isn't psyched you're shooting her so don't until she is into it. Score: -2 4) The depth of field is limited, but that's great cuz we focus at her, especially her eyes. Great job. Score: +1 5) No hair light or rim light to make her jump off the background- see how her hair just fades away? To fix, get her happy and put some light behind her.
Then you'll have a great portrait of your girl. Put light behind her with a reflector or a mirror to reflect the sunlight back at the back of her head. Or spin her around halfway or more and try using the sun as that backlighting and your flash (along with a reflector would be dang good) in front. Relax relax and look at everything before you snap.
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