Available Light

Here’s an available light portrait of the other day:

In a portrait like this, keep the following in mind:

  • Use a prime lens at wide aperture (like f/2.0) to get that dreamy look and to get the ability to shoot in this available light. A fact 50mm is great for that (I used my 50mm f/1.2 lens on a 7D for this shot).
  • Even so, use high enough ISO to ensure a fast shutter speed (say, 1/twice the lens focal length, so 1/100th sec on a 50mm lens). I used 400 ISO here, to get 1/160t sec at f/2.0.
  • Put the person next to a window with indirect daylight – not direct sunlight.
  • Ensure they are low enough for the face to be hit by the “cone of light” that comes from that window;
  • Turn the face toward the light for even lighting if that is what you want.
  • Use a reflector if necessary to open the unlit part of the face.

And that is how you do that. Could not be simpler. Try some!


3 thoughts on “Available Light

  1. Michael – regarding your comment about ‘1/twice the lens focal length’.

    If using a crop camera…where the focal length is technically multiplied because of the smaller sensor…do you suggest using the real focal length (in this case 1/100th) or using the crop focal length (in this case 1/150th).

    • It’s a rough guideline… use twice that value if you can, but shoot at half that value if you have a really steady hand. So I would say “either” depending on how steady your hand is…

  2. Its beautiful. I have been successfully in obtaining similar result using window light. Except that I do not have reflectors. Even then I have got great pictures. Its been one of my favorite to take pictures using window light. I hope others would give it a try. And, yes, the 50 mm lens is a great lens to have. The use here is also beautifully explained.

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