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 and today, we’re adding one more. If you’ve always wanted to try or 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 whole 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 35mm prime lens.

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See Tatyana Zadorin’s Quick Demo of a Natural Light Outdoor Portrait Shoot

Screenshot image from the video by Tatyana Zadorin.

Using only the bare necessities, photographer Tatyana Zadorin was able to pull off a pretty cool natural light outdoor portrait shoot when she traveled to South Carolina, USA to visit her family.  The seven-minute behind-the-scenes video titled Natural Light OUTDOOR Portrait Photography – Behind the Scenes mostly showed Tatyana demonstrating how she made use of her Canon 5D Mark III and a couple of lenses Canon lenses with 85mm and 35mm focal lengths. She also offered the settings that she shot her photos with for those who want to emulate her images.

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Quick Tips on Shooting Natural Light Portraits Indoors

Screenshot image from the video by Marc Klaus

Have you ever tried shooting natural light portraits indoors? It’s always worth a try because it could be a pretty fun and educational exercise, considering doing so would force you to work with whatever light you got to produce the best possible images you could.

Shooting indoors using available light and minimal gear and props is pretty easy, as you would observe in photographer Marc Klaus’ seven-minute behind-the-scenes video. Throughout this clip, you’d see that his models actually had more outfit options than he had cameras and accessories combined.

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Natural Light vs Off Camera Flash for Outdoor Portrait Photography

Learn how to work with both natural lighting and off camera flash outdoors in this quick portrait photography tutorial.

Spotted a picture-perfect location for some portrait photography projects and practice? Working with natural light isn’t your only option to get some impressive shots. In this quick video, find out what you can achieve with both natural light and off camera flash, and decide which look you want.

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Rebeca Camino Reimagines Futuristic Fashion Portraiture in Ethereal “Vacuum”

All images by Rebeca Camino. Used with Creative Commons permission.

When we speak of futuristic fashion portraiture, we typically expect it to be dominated by neon colors and/or space-themed elements. The moody works of Alexander Berdin-Lazursky and Elizaveta Porodina’s Neon Night are perfect examples. Once in a while, however, we come across some works that challenge this tried and tested formula, often with stunning results. It can be as stylized as Colin Anderson’s stylish Mission to Mars, or as simple yet ethereal as Vacuum by Rebeca Camino.

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Rebeca Camino Makes Dreamy Conceptual “Illusion” Natural Light Portraits

All images by Rebeca Camino. Used with Creative Commons permission.

A significant portion of portrait photographers hold a strong preference for natural light portraits over studio setups, for a good reason. It allows you to shoot right at the comfort of your home or on location without the need to set up any equipment other than your camera. There’s also often more than one way to play with the available light, as we’ll see in this beautiful set of creative portraits by Spanish photographer Rebeca Camino.

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Quick Tips for Shooting Natural Light Portraits Outdoors

One of the best places to shoot natural light portraits is, well, outdoors! Find out how you can use the natural light available outdoors in these quick tutorials.

Previously, we’ve shared an Adorama TV tutorial by Mark Wallace showing how to shoot natural light portraits indoors. But of course, that’s not the only way to work with natural light. If you want to try shooting portraits outdoors, where there’s plenty of natural light, here are a couple more quick tutorials to help you get beautiful results!

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How to Nail Beautiful Portraits When Shooting in Natural Light

Getting beautiful portraits in natural light is one of the first things you can start mastering today with this quick tutorial. 

Whether you’ve just started learning how to shoot portraits or a little further into it, working with natural light is one of the most useful tricks to have as a portrait photographer. It may not always be as simple as pointing your camera on your subject beside a window, but this quick tutorial by Mark Wallace for Adorama is easy enough to get you started.

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How to Shoot Better Black and White Portraits With Natural Light (Premium)

Natural light portraiture is a passion of so many photographers out there. But for many of these photographers, there’s a little formula that they always do. It goes something like this: aperture priority, focus on the eye, shoot. That’s it. There’s nothing more to it. And for the most part, it’s copied over and over again because it works. With black and white photography, that idea can surely work. However, there are other things that a photographer can do to create even better photos.

Keep Your Colors in the Scene Separate; They’ll Translate Into Different Tones

Yes, I’m talking about color here but colors translate into tones and shades when you convert to black and white or shoot in black and white. Let’s look at it this way: photographer Steve McCurry often shot with three primary colors in his scenes: the skin tones, the clothing and the background. Each of those colors were far enough from each other in the ROYGBIV spectrum. So when you work in black and white, you’ll often need to make sure that this works accordingly. Let’s delve into a few examples:

  • Dark skin, which becomes orange typically
  • Green background
  • Red or Blue clothing depending on the lighting

That’s one example, but let’s look at another

  • Light skin, which becomes orange and yellow with tinges of red
  • Blue background
  • Green clothing

Green is typically the middle color and it’s often the most versatile when it comes to natural light portraiture. Lucky for you, grass and trees tend to be abundant.

Meter for the Skin

With Aperture priority, most cameras are often set to evaluative metering. But what I think is best when it comes to black and white portraiture is to meter for the skin of the subject. Whether you’re a stop +/- is totally up to you though. Metering for the skin can be done via spot metering, then locking the exposure, and refocusing. Of course, you can also simply just fix this by using manual exposure mode. Yes, that means you need to come off of aperture priority; and that will help.

You Don’t Need the Golden Hour

Now here’s my absolute favorite thing about black and white portraiture; you don’t need the Golden Hour. Good portraiture in and of itself doesn’t need the Golden Hour but even less so when it comes to black and white. You can simply go outside and shoot based on how the scene looks and what sort of mood you’re going for. Shooting in mid-day sun is perfectly fine. Hard shadows, though they aren’t always the most flattering with mid-day light, tend to look just fine with black and white.

Use Shadows To Your Advantage

If you’re still looking for that soft lit look, then be on the search for natural shadows. For example:

  • Tree coverage
  • Awnings
  • Buildings
  • Tarps
  • Cars

Whatever you can do to control the light, do it.

Get a Softer Rendering Lens

Last quick tip that you’ve probably never heard: get a softer rendering lens. The reason for this is because when you shoot in color, the sharpness tends to be hidden amongst the colors. But with black and white, the contrast tends to pop a whole lot more and the images look a lot sharper. Moose Peterson says that the deeper your black levels are the sharper the images will look. Nowhere is that more true than with black and white photography.

Five Tips and Tricks to Shooting Portraits Indoors with Available Lighting

Available lighting for indoor portraits doesn’t have to be scary, it really doesn’t.

If you are shooting portraits, then you are probably doing at least a portion of your images indoors, especially during the winter months. You may be wondering how you can take advantage of available light indoors for portraits; maybe for stylistic reasons (you like the look of it better) or for other reasons (like not having to cart around a crap ton of lighting gear). Whatever your reason, it is totally possible to make the most out of available lighting for portraits indoors.

Today we are going to be talking about some tips and tricks you can employ to get a better handle on available light portraiture indoors. It’s not as complicated as you are making it out to be in your head. It really just comes down to being able to see the light and knowing what you want to do with it in relation to your subject.

Ready? Great! Let’s get into it. Continue reading…

How to Achieve Great Portraits in Open Shade Lighting

Here’s how you can take advantage of open shade lighting to get beautiful portraits.

Whether you’re not yet well-versed in studio lighting setup or simply prefer shooting in natural light, here’s an easy tutorial that will help you get stunning results. Just look for a location with open shade lighting and you’re halfway there! Mark Wallace demonstrates how you can work with this simple but clean lighting for your next natural light portrait sessions.

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Using Strobes to Enhance the Sun in Portraiture

Strobes are the best for so many reasons.

So many photographers out there rely heavily on natural light for their outdoor and indoor portraits, but many of you also make use of external lighting sources like strobes or speedlights. One great way to make use of both methods of thought is to use a strobe or speedlight as a fill light in your natural light portraits instead of something reflective, like a 5 in 1 reflector. Continue reading…

Why Should You Use High Speed Sync Flash Vs Natural Light?

When you’re first getting into working with flashes, a question you’re most likely going to ask is why you should even consider using high speed sync at all? You’ve probably seen some photos and lots of photographers probably figure they can create the same look with natural light. Realistically, you could do so with great difficulty in Photoshop and Lightroom. But it’s much easier to get it right in camera and then carry on shooting as you normally would. Plus, they’re two specific and different looks.

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Tips For Shooting Better Natural Light Images Indoors (NSFW)

Working with natural light is one of those things most photographers start with before moving on into other lighting techniques like speedlights or strobes. But funny enough, natural light is one of those lighting techniques that can be really difficult for some to get a handle on. In this post we are going to go over some of our top tips for getting better natural light photos indoors by seeing your light, understanding it, and then harnessing it and bending it to your will.

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This Beautiful Minimalist Space in Japan is a Photographer’s Dream Home Studio

All images by Yoshihiro Asada and Norihito Yamauchi via Arch Daily

It’s been said all the time that there’s always something for everyone, and we believe we’ve found the perfect house for photographers. It’s designed to maximize natural light, has plenty of space for a home studio, and has a lot of picture-perfect corners. There’s just one catch: You’d have to fly to Japan to book a viewing at least. Which doesn’t sound so bad, actually, as Japan is known for being a paradise for photographers.

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Using A Reflector For Natural Light Boudoir Photography

Featured Image Is A Screen Grab From The Video Featured In This Post. All Credit To Jen Rozenbaum and Westcott.

If you have not heard; reflectors are a natural light photographers best friend. These handy discs help photographers bounce light, filling in the shadows on a subject in a pleasing way. Natural light photography is incredibly popular in the boudoir niche, and today we have a great video showing how to use a reflector to make the most out of the window light available. Continue reading…

Irene Rudnyk Explains Why She Shoots in Natural Light

 

It’s strange and mostly absurd how there’s still a lot of bickering over photography techniques, gear, and choices today. We should be already at a time when everyone accepts that everything ultimately boils down to one thing: personal preference. The fact that fashion photographer Irene Rudnyk still has to defend her preference for shooting in natural light attests to this.

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Film Emulsion Review: Kodak Portra 160 (35mm and 120 Formats)

When you work with a film like Kodak Portra 160, you get a pretty fine detailed film designed to be used more or less with controlled lighting. Though interestingly enough, I’ve personally had much better results working with many other films using controlled lighting and instead found that this film is one of the best to be used with natural light. Designed for skin tones in portraiture, Kodak Portra 160 has a very muted color palette but not as pastel as Fujifilm’s Pro 160 NS–its closest competitor which is now discontinued. Like many other films, it is available in both 120 and 35mm. But if you’re reading this website, then you’re probably only using it in 120.

I’ve been using Kodak Portra 160 for years; and even though I prefer to work with 400, 160 is surely a nice film in the right settings.

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Irene Rudnyk Shoots Beautiful Outdoor Portraits with a Cello

Running out of ideas for shooting portraits? Sometimes, all you need is a prop you can use as a major part of your portrait’s story. If you’ve been working in the studio for a while, you might want to bring your session outdoors to give your photos a scenic or even moody look. Case in point is the lovely session by Irene Rudnyk where she took portraits in natural light outdoors with her model holding a cello.

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What is High Key Lighting? How The Popular Lighting Technique Works With Portrait Photography

High key lighting is a technique that has been used for many, many years now. For the most part, you can associate it with a certain Amazon patent, but high key lighting has been used year after year for portrait photography and cinematography. Essentially, it gives your subject this sort of angelic, bright and airy look. These days it is typically more associated with backlighting a portrait subject. So if you love working with natural lighting, then you’ll probably really like high key lighting.

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Shooting Cityscapes at Night, From Composition to Lightroom

Feature image screen capture from video, all credit to Serge Ramilli.

Shooting cityscapes at night can be a great hobby for photographers and civilians alike: the city never moves, it’s always available to shoot, and you can do it at your leisure. During day or night most can take some breathtaking images that will capture the attention of your viewers. But if you are new to this, the idea of shooting at night may give you pause… so, let’s remedy that.

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