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Indoor Portrait - natural light - tips please....

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by dowie, 15 Apr 2010.

  1. dowie

    Capo Crimine

    Joined: 29 Jan 2008

    Posts: 51,935

    Hey - I'm going to take some pics tomorrow for a flatmate who basically wants a few portrait type shots in a Jacket she has to give back soon - think she normally gets a proper photographer for this sort of stuff tbh... but needs to return said jacket soon and I happen to have a DSLR so I'm going to attempt to do some portrait pics.... Have previously just done pics of military stuff, mountaineering expeditions etc... however I do happen to have a 50mm f1.8 lense which would seem to be ideal for this...

    basically I've just got the basic canon 400D, kit lense, 50mm f1.8 and also have a fisheye adapter which I was previously using to playing around with around London...

    Flatmate wants to take some pics in the bathroom - has a large ish window so plenty of natural light but also it isn't all that big - (I'd be stood about a meter away form her ) - also the backdrop would be a huge mirror.....

    Was also thinking of doing a few outdoor shots in the back garden and perhpas using just the onboard flash to avoid harsh shadows on face......

    3rd location - have a large bay window in my room with clear wooden floor space in front - with white curtains drawn could allow a lot of light from behind and perhpas use the onboard flash (perhpas with some sort of makeshift diffuser (masking tape? - please don't laugh too much) - also perhpas with curtains open and just using natural light from the side or something....

    am thinking that the bedroom with bay window might be a better location than the cramped bathroom - but might as well try both I guess

    Also might have an experiment with some random-ish type shots... want to play with the fisheye and also want to try maybe using a tripod and doing some multiple exposures with say the kit lense.....

    any tips/advice/links to relevant tips advice would be very welcome thanks..... :)
  2. Mint_Sauce


    Joined: 25 Sep 2003

    Posts: 3,709

    Location: Manchester

    You could try and use the mirror to your advantage. Since you're so close and have the 50mm you may find it's too long especially with the crop factor so the mirror could be a good way to make something interesting and avoid the focal length issue?

    Onboard flash is going to be fairly hard to work effectively but you could use it but dial it down to be more of a light which kicks some light in her eyes to give them some life.

    With the bay windows you could experiment with exposing for the windows and leaving her as an outline or maybe try using the onboard flash to balance the light behind her. If you're talking classic portraiture then natural light from the window is great if you can diffuse it with net curtains then even better.

    Fisheye is a dangerous but fun lens, just don't go taking any portraits with that one unless she has a sense of humour. :D

    I've generally found that exaggerating and being over the top is the way to go as then it comes through in the picture, subtlety in creative arty type shots doesn't seem to get across very well for me so if you're going to get her doing something then I'd suggest to just go all out.

    Hope this helps a bit, post up the results if you can.
  3. martinturner

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 27 Jun 2007

    Posts: 1,777

    I would steer clear of the onboard flash altogether. Shooting indoors is a pain anyway without a good flash. Also if you are shooting her in the window this may cause you some exposure issues as she will be really dark and the windows really bright as the camera will struggle to meter. I think you would be better off taking her outside with the mirror as a prop if you can find a bit of green space with a tree lean the mirror up against it as it would make a nice background. Be careful not to capture yourself in the mirror though.

    Not that I know the first thing about portraits; but on what I do know, thats what I would do. Have a look at Willis' outdoor portraits for some inspiration.
  4. dowie

    Capo Crimine

    Joined: 29 Jan 2008

    Posts: 51,935

    thanks for the tips guys, much appreciated. Am now postponing this till Monday, think I will try and persuade her to do some outdoor ones too in back garden - unfortunately mirror is basically fixed and is almost the entire wall of the bathroom...

    @Mint_Sauce - I'll prob post some results to next week so long as I don't make a complete mess of this.... - will set up a flikr account or something as its prob about time I set up an account on there.