Lots of photographers that don’t like to or know how to work with a flash often go for natural light when it comes to portraiture. The most common method of shooting involves using an area with lots of shadows or overcast. But one of the coolest ways to create an image that you’re bound to become smitten by is backlighting your subject. Backlighting means placing the main light source (often then sun) behind your subject. The best of us like to put it behind their head to give off a nice glow to the subject, but there are a number of fantastic ways to use backlighting when shooting portraits.
Very recently, we were asked about how to use film at night time. The reason: during the day a standard roll of color film will come out looking very nice and true to life. But at night, you don’t get quite the same results. So why gives? If you’re a digital photographer that later picked up film (the same way many of us did) then it’s easy for you to get super confused and possibly not even think about what’s going on here.
But in truth, it has everything to do with the white balance that you’d easily adjust in digital post production.
Portrait lenses are available in all sorts of different focal lengths, prices and types. They’re the bread and butter of many of us as photographers, and they can help us put our creative vision forward onto pixels and film. These lenses, like all other modern lenses, are capable of doing awesome things overall.
In fact, you can make the output of an affordable $250 lens look like that of a higher end product before you even bring the image into Lightroom.
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One of the best things that you can do to make your portrait subject stand out more in a scene is to use color coordination. Backgrounds can always be some sort of stagnant-ish color, but then focus on the wardrobe and make it work accordingly with the person’s skin tones. But more or less, try to keep the scene to three primary colors.
To do this, what I generally say is look at the color scale: ROYGBIV. In the photo above:
- Fernando’s skin is correlated with orange/red undertones
- Green background with some white
- Blue tones in his clothing.
See how each of those tones are different? An image that sticks to the BIV or the ROY can sometimes be tough to make a subject really stand out unless you’ve got very effective lighting. Now, to be fair, we see all this just fine, but cameras don’t necessarily do. Adjusting the HSL of the color tones individually can also help. Saturation can really help in the same ways that it did during the film days.
Some photographers go through the world simply looking at scenes and only capturing what looks interesting to them at the time–and in attempt to capture a scene just the way that they see it. That’s fine–and it works out pretty well most of the time. In contrast, have you tried something new?
What about the idea of going about places and looking at the shapes? Or the colors? Lots of photographers these days start out by being self taught–and if you just embrace some of the more principle pillars of art, you’ll see just how much extra potential your images have.
All images by Mario Palufi. Used with permission.
Mario Palufi is a 22 year old photographer from Indonesia living in Sydney. He’s a street photographer and absolutely loves the medium due to the inspiration he’s gained while shooting. He works light with minimal gear and instead focuses a lot on geometry and colors.
But most amazingly, he’s found great ways to deal with angry people on the streets.
Let’s be honest: people love capturing photos of tea and coffee before they enjoy them. They’re probably one of the more popular items that you see online as you peruse your various social media feeds. Both of these drinks are very personal to us all of–they elicit emotions by getting us excited, they help us out in many ways, and they mean a lot of us. If you took someone’s coffee away, then they’re bound to be miserable.
Capturing better images of that stuff though really isn’t that tough to do.
All images by Deborah Ory and Ken Browar. Used with permission. Lead image: Tiler Peck, Principal, New York City Ballet
Photographers Deborah Ory and Ken Browar are a husband and wife duo. Their subjects: dancers. Based here in NYC, Deborah and Ken has been shooting for the past few years from companies including American Ballet Theatre, Martha Graham Dance Company, Alvin Ailey, New York City Ballet and others. Later this year, a book of theirs called “The Art of Movement” will be published for all to call their own personal coffee table book.
But what’s most interesting about these two is how they work with dancers, their insistence on working in the studio, their use of colors, and how they go about creating the images that they do. And according to Deborah “We collaborate closely with the dancer, but also direct the shoot.”