The little lady in the jaunty hat on your camera mode dial or mode settings is the symbol for the auto portrait mode on your camera. I find her quite charming. Portrait mode is used for still portraits not action or sports shots. Portrait mode tweaks color, sharpness and contrast to produce natural skin tones. Be sure and turn on your red-eye reduction when taking portraits.
|Photo of Nikon camera automatic mode settings|
Above is a shot of my Nikon camera’s mode dial. Read about each of these modes and how to find and set them in your camera manual. In my blog posts we have been discussing the various automatic modes – the figure icons on your mode dial. When we are finished learning each of these we will tackle the M, A, S, P modes.
The portrait auto mode is designed to keep your subject in sharp focus and blur the background. The idea is to focus attention on your subject.
You can maximize the blurring by placing your subject as far as possible from the background. Use a telephoto lens on a DSLR camera with exchangeable lenses or the zoom on a Point and Shoot camera. On a DSLR for example, if you are using an 18-105mm lens, zoom all the way to 105mm length to maximize background blurring. If using a Point and Shoot camera zoom to the farthest telephoto length your camera allows.
|Photo credit to "KRW Home" krw-Home|
When you’re photographing people, even a casual photo, always check what’s behind the subject. Whatever it is, it will show up in your photo. Is the background distracting? What’s the lighting like? Is it bright and glaring or is the sun directly overhead washing out your subject? Is there unattractive scenery or objects that will draw attention away from your subject? If so, then you need to either move your subject or you need to move and shoot the subject from a different angle.
I often photograph people I don’t know very well, or people I don’t know at all. To make everyone comfortable I start a conversation before I set my subject in a scene and start pointing my camera at them. Before I start shooting photos I ask about their likes, what makes them happy, their hobbies – cheerful topics. I stay away from controversial conversations – grouchy topics make for grouchy expressions and no one’s happy with the outcome of those photos! I love capturing a subject’s personality in the photo. That’s the best feeling of all when I take portraits. The above gentleman told me he is often mistaken for Santa Claus which gave us plenty to discuss.
If I’m relaxed and confident my subject soon relaxes and feels at ease. I pose my subject in a location where I can move around and get shots from various angles. I take lots of photos. Think of good locations to shoot photos in your area. Be prepared. A local park, family outing, a backyard get together, a picnic, places of interest around town, all these make great locations with thought and planning.
Soft diffused window light is one of the best kinds of light to use in indoor portrait photography. Use a room that has soft natural light coming through the window.
Using a tripod will keep you from shaking the camera and blurring the image. The camera’s self-timer can be set to a 2 second delay or you can use a shutter delayed remote for further blur control. Either of these helps with camera shake. Make sure your automatic flash is turned off. If not, it will probably go off to compensate for the low light environment and wash out your photo. Take lots of shots and have fun with various poses.
Sometimes the best photos happen when your subject thinks you’re done. Take the camera away from your eye for a moment or two but be prepared to continue shooting. If you’re lucky you’ll get a spontaneous moment like this one with a terrific pose. A natural relaxed shot that you wouldn’t have captured if your subject thought they were still the focus of your attention. I was thrilled when hubby leaned over and gave his wife an unexpected kiss on the cheek. I knew they'd love
this shot and they did.
I hope you will keep coming back for more beginning photo tips.