How to Shoot Moody Natural Light Portraits

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you could create moody portraits, courtesy of photographer Ben Chambers.

We’ve featured a ton of tutorials on taking natural light portraits by many talented photographers here on the website. Today, we’re adding one more. If you’ve always wanted to perfect shooting moody natural light portraits, this tutorial by Australian wedding photographer Ben Chambers of Bach Photography is for you. In Ben’s 12 minute-long tutorial, uploaded on his YouTube channel, he showed the process of how he created a particular portrait shot, as seen above and below. He took the photo with a 5D Mark IV and Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art Lens but said that similar results can be achieved with an APS-C camera with a 35mm prime lens.

His location was a shaded but well-lit area. It was around two in the afternoon, Ben said, and he wanted to avoid the harsh highlights and shadows that the bright sunlight would cause.

“Find a shaded area so you can take flat, smooth lighting across your entire image,” he said.

Ben then set his aperture to f1.4, shutter speed to 1/1250, and ISO to 200, all while explaining at length that he used this setting to blur the background, make her skin look “appealing,” and her eyes “nice and sharp” to “get a nice, sharp image without any movement blur” and because it’s the native ISO of his camera, which means it’s the ISO that would give him “the best quality signal to my sensor and the best quality image for post-processing in Photoshop with the least amount of noise and the most dynamic range, and in the highlights and shadows,” respectively.

What followed was a detailed step-by-step editing process on Photoshop, in which he made the model’s skin look smoother, give her hair a bit more volume, add color to her lips and remove yellow stains on her teeth, and add highlights and shadows to her face to make her features look more dramatic.

And if you wish to edit along, Ben generously provided a Dropbox link that contains his raw files on the video’s page.

But enough chatter, let’s go to the video now!

Screenshot images taken from the video by Bach Photography.