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Quick guide: Outdoor Portraits

This is the 4th in a series I am trying to complete that is straight to the point settings and tips to guide you through different photography themes, subjects and styles. Today we will be talking about Outdoor Portraits  

Select a background that is not cluttered and set your aperture to f/4 or bigger to blur the background. Blurring the background is a technique to reduce distractions and to lead your viewers' eyes straight to your subject. 

Start with these camera settings next time you are out shooting sunsets:

  • Exposure: Aperture Priority (A/AV
  • Focus Mode: Single or one shot
  • Shutter speed: Set by the camera
  • Aperture: f/4 or wider
  • ISO: 100 to 200
  • Focal length: 50 to 100mm or the equivalent in cropped sensor (divide by 1.6)
  • Drive mode: Single-shot
  • White Balance: Cloudy or Shade

Consider those additional tips when shooting sunset: 

  • Carefully select your background (green foliage, wall texture, bokeh, etc.)
  • Don't shoot in the direct sun but find some shade to avoid harsh shadows
  • The best outdoor portraits are shot during overcast days
  • If the sky is blue and you are shooting in the shade, the best White Balance setting would be Shade. If the sky is overcast, select Cloudy WB instead
  • Use your camera flash to fill in face shadows
  • Make use of a reflector to fill in shadows under the eyes