Posted by Instructor Ellie Stone
The holiday season is a fantastic time to learn some new portrait photography skills. Myself, like most people like to capture portrait style images in natural and available light. In some instances a flash is obtrusive or possibly not even allowed. Gaining knowledge of proper camera settings in all types of light is essential to utilizing whatever lighting situations come our way.
On this gorgeous Saturday in December, I was on hand to teach 5 excited photographers the skills necessary for capturing images in natural light. Class began with introductions. It's always my goal to remember everyone's name, so first off all the students introduce themselves, and tell me a little about their background in photography, as well as what kind of camera they've brought with them.
After getting to know one another I went through a refresher on aperture and it's relation to depth of field. Laying down some foundation basics before we headed outside for the hands-on portion.
We started right outside the Gallery doors, on a cute little iron bench. The photogenic and beautiful model posed a couple of different ways while I assisted with camera settings.
The Pruneyard shopping center has some fantastic holiday decorations up right now, so we definitely took advantage of that. Heading over to a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, we placed our model in front of the tree and worked on background clutter.
Although the tree was handsomely decorated, some of the ornaments are large and can be distracting, as a background element. Just by slightly moving the model, and ourselves, we easily eliminated the look of an awkward photo merger.
The students were really starting to get warmed up, so we moved on to another spot. It was just a short walk, and we arrived at a totally different shooting environment. A simple grey wall with horizontal strips was our next challenge.
When we first glanced at our model against the wall, it was obvious that one of the horizontal lines was running awkwardly through her head. All I did was have her lean against the wall and slide down a bit...voila, no more head splitting line.
The courtyard area was quite shaded, so I made sure that ISOs were high enough for at least a 1/50 shutter speed.
We continued walking around the center and encountering new challenges along the way. I took the small group into a little passageway that is artificially lit. I had everyone adjust his or her white balance to compensate for the yellow florescent lighting.
Even though we chose a very cool kelvin temperature, the images still looked off making this spot's just begging to be shot in monochrome. Changing my picture style, so all could have that instant gratification... oh yes, that does look good in monochrome.
Once again we strolled around the beautiful shopping center, hitting up some often overlooked, yet awesome little areas for portraits. Our model was getting a bit chilled, so we ducked into the Pruneyard Inn Hotel. Right inside the lobby they have an elegantly decorated Christmas tree, so of course we took advantage of that.
The lights on the tree made for a super nice bokeh, or out of focus quality. Pausing for just a minute to warm our cones by the fireplace, then it was time to keep on our merry way.
The sunlight was starting to fade, so we took a fun shot of the entire group in front of the lit up trees. ISOs needed to be pretty high, since the sunlight was dropping.
There are some really cool colored light balls that hang from the trees, so we had our model jump, to capture a fun action shot. The entire group really captured some fun shots.
Just one more photo opportunity before we totally ran out of available light. Right in front of Rock Bottom Brewery, the palm trees are all decorated with spiraling lights. Adorned with a cute little Santa hat, our model posed next to the lights. It sure was a fun way to wrap up the holiday season portrait class!
Until next time, many thanks from me and the entire Aperture Academy team! Thanks for another great workshop!
If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.
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