Natural Light Portrait Photography Workshop - February 3rd, 2018

Natural Light Portrait Photography Workshop Students

My passion for teaching and photography are the same: bringing out the best in people. Our Natural Light Photography class at Aperture Academy not only allows me to explore both my passions, but share it with a group of students looking to do the same. On Saturday morning, we began our day with a review of our settings, exposure, and composition. Understanding ISO, aperture, and shutter speed is the foundation of an excellent photographer. We focused on the use of aperture, and how it affects our depth of field in portraits. And in doing so, we came to the conclusion that we would be shooting in aperture priority today!

After ending our discussion on exposure compensation and composition, we headed out to photograph our model, Jasmine. The sun was already pretty high when we started, so it was a great opportunity to work on positioning in sunlight. While front lighting and side lighting gave us problems—squinting and harsh shadows respectively—we were able to get some great expressions and evening lighting with back light. Jasmine’s hair was also given a nice rim light that really popped the color.

The students worked with backgrounds next. Aperture Academy headquarters is an amazing place to learn, but it is definitely not the prettiest area for portraits. But a good photographer can make any place work! The students with telephoto lenses compressed the background to create more blur, while students with prime lenses focused more on pulling subjects away from backgrounds to optimize that bigger aperture. It’s all about understanding how your equipment can help you!

Posing our model is another skill to consider. Jasmine had unfortunately hurt her knee the night before, but showed amazing dedication to still come out and model for us! And as a photographer, we need to be able to adapt to any situation. With Jasmine’s knee condition, we couldn’t have her crouch or put too much weight on her left knee. Instead we worked with some sitting poses that allowed her to both relax and take weight off her knee. When standing, we made sure to have Jasmine shift her weight to her right knee—still getting the curves and relax posed.

My favorite part of teaching the Natural Light class is seeing the students work with the models and position them based on what they have learned so far in the day. I allowed them to do just that toward the end of our session, and they did an amazing job making sure Jasmine was in a position with the best even lighting. I took this time to show them how to soften light with a diffuser if they have an assistant to help as well as how to bounce some full light in with a reflector.

We ended the day by focusing and photographing moving subjects. I had the students change to continuous shooting mode as well as change their focus mode to AF-C or AI Servo (Nikon and Canon respectively). I wasn’t about to make Jasmine run or even walk with her knee condition—so I jumped in! While I am no where near the model Jasmine is, I was able to hop around and test their abilities to keep the focus point on me. They did not disappoint!

Before I knew it, we were taking our group picture and I was bidding farewell to six excellent photographers. I know that with continuous practice, they will be portrait pros in no time!

Until next time,

Mary, DeAnna and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team!


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