We’ve all become used to taking pictures of ourselves with the popularity of ‘selfie’ pictures, but good portrait photographs have made many photographers’ careers. Taking the perfect portrait photograph could be about creating a personal souvenir of a loved one to keep forever, or it could be that you’ve been commissioned to create publishable portraits.
Either way, at CoinaPhoto, whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer we hope you enjoy our top tips from the pros.
- Set a wide aperture. Around f/2.8-f/5.6 to capture a shallow depth of field. This will make the background behind your subject nicely blurred and make your portrait stand out better. To control the depth of field switch to Aperture Priority mode on your DSLR. Specialist portrait lenses will have even wider maximum apertures e.g. f/1.4-f/2.8 for extra blur.
- If you are in manual mode and setting shutter speed, your shutter speed should be higher than your focal length to avoid camera-shake, e.g. at 200mm use a 1/250 shutter speed or faster. When you’re using a wide-angle lens e.g. 18mm you can get away with slower shutter speeds, e.g. 1/20 sec.
- Under-exposed skin tones are a common problem with portraits, particularly when there’s a lot of light in the scene, for example at a wedding. To brighten up subjects using Aperture Priority mode you can try using Exposure Compensation. Dial in up to +1 stop of positive Exposure Compensation to lighten faces.
- While you’re in Aperture Priority mode and using a wide aperture, you may need to increase your ISO too e.g. from ISO100 to ISO400, especially at high shutter speeds. In low light you may need to increase it further to ISO800 or higher – this produces some grain in your photo but avoids blur.
- Choice of lens will decide what type of portrait you’re taking. A wide-angle lens e.g. 18mm captures a wider angle so more of your subject’s surroundings will be in shot. A telephoto lens e.g. 70mm captures a narrower angle so the focus on your subject will be stronger.
- Compose your portrait in your frame the way you want to see your subject, whether to one side and looking into space, or focused closely on one feature e.g. the subject’s eyes. To help with pinpoint focusing, manually select a single autofocus (AF) point e.g. the eyes, and half press the shutter button to focus and then recompose the frame to position your subject where you want them e.g. off to one side, before fully pressing the button to take the picture.
- 7. Flashguns and light diffusers open up the possibility of using different lighting techniques, for example lighting your subject from the side to add drama to your portraits or dialling in -2 stops of Exposure Composition to capture a moody backdrop. Using flash on a sunny day can help to overcome problems such as shadows across faces and burnt-out highlights by lighting your subject while the camera exposes for the background.
Once you’ve mastered taking the perfect portrait, why not upload it on to the Public Library on CoinaPhoto to see what other photographers makes of it? The first 20 photographs that get uploaded to CoinaPhoto’s Public Library with the Perfect Portrait tag will be awarded five gold CoinaPhoto tokens, so go ahead and see if you can start making a bit of money from your passion! (Conditions apply)
Check out more on how CoinaPhoto works by watching this video:
For the full terms and conditions of this competition please visit here.