You have heard me talk about the “Sunny Sixteen” rule before. This is a very useful rule of thumb that allows you to shoot without using your camera’s light meter. The rule is:
If your shutter speed is set to 1/ISO (e.g. 125 ISO at 1/125th sec, 200 ISO at 1/200 sec, or 400 ISO at 1/400 sec, etc), then on a fully sunny day at noon, f/16 will give you the right exposure.
Like this, at f/16:
And if it is not sunny?
||Soft around edges
This rule is a rule of thumb, so feel free to vary – I often expose two thirds of a stop higher – but since the sun is always the same brightness, it holds well. And it is nice to be able to expose without light meters, if only in order to be able to check your camera.
Bonus question: how do you expose the moon?
Answer: f/16. The moon at noon (there, so any time here, including night) is as bright as the earth at noon- they are the same distance from the sun!
It is minus 28 degrees Celsius. Yesterday, I taught a Creative Flash Photography workshop in Timmins, Ontario. Here’s a sample!
Some creative gel use:
A snapshot showing the setup for the next shot:
And here’s the shot!
…which also works in B/W:
A simple one flash grid portrait:
And two together:
Fun was had. Flying me out to anywhere for a workshop like this is worth your time: hands-on learning so beats only reading a book or watching a video!
A repeat post from 2015, showing that things do not change much…
I very often hear people who are a little ahead of themselves. They do paid portrait shoots before learning how to focus, that sort of thing. They do not want to learn formally, for instance from a course, or books, or seminars; and yet they expect the knowledge to come to them for free, somehow.
Wishful thinking, and you know it. So let me grab a few of these things by the horns. Starting with portraits. You are doing a studio portrait; you have a backdrop; but the rest is mystery. So your images end up:
- Badly lit.
- Under- or overexposed.
- With a background that is sharp instead of blurred.
- With the subject not separated from that background.
- Out of focus.
- With the background white, not coloured even though you use gels.
That is because you never learned the basics. But there is good news: studio portraits are simple. All you need to learn is:
- Lighting. A main light, 45 degrees away from subject. A fill light, same on other side. Hair light, opposite main light. See diagram, from my new book:
- Exposure. Set your camera to manual mode, 1/125 sec, f/8, 100 ISO.
- Turn the flashes to half way (obviously the flashes are on MANUAL too).
- Now meter the main flash. Adjust main light until it reads f/8.
- Same for hair light.
- Fill light: meter this to f/4 (i.e. adjust this light until meter reads f/4 when it flashes).
- Background light: same as main light, again.
- White balance to “Flash”.
- Focus using one focus spot. Focus on the eye using that one spot.
- Use a lens longer than 50mm. I prefer my 70-200 or my 85mm prime.
- Move subject from background as much as you can. Then you can gel the background light. If, whoever, much of the normal light falls on the background, you cannot gel. Test this by turning OFF the background light: the background should be dark.
- Turn subject toward main light, then head slightly to you.
That really is all. Click., You have a competent portrait.
What you must not do is pretend that no learning is necessary. Go find a course, go buy my e-books; read this free resource www.speedlighter.ca; take private training; sign up at Sheridan College; : whatever you can do, do it now.
It really is simple. But not as simple as “I just bought a camera and next week I am shooting a wedding”—and believe me, I have heard that very statement more than once.
I love teaching. And I feel generous—read this post until the end and see why, and see how you can benefit!
First, though, here’s a few snaps from Sunday’s Get Out And Shoot. Starting with a Christmas ball…:
This walk was in downtown Oakville:
So why am I happy?
One of my Sheridan College students just sent me an unsolicited student testimonial:
“Thank you for your wonderful teaching style. I have learned a lot from you as a photographer and have taught me many things and you have always responded to every question I had with knowledge. You make the class like Christmas day.”
I am honoured by this; it is exactly why I teach.
Incidentally, I also teach privately or in small groups. And for all my students, there’s now a 30% discount for any orders (for training or anything else) paid by Dec 31, 2018. To benefit from this, all you need to do is to use discount code Student2018 on http://learning.photography. Happy festive season!
Here’s a few samples from another family shoot I just did, of a friend (an ex student) and his family:
Fall is a great time for these portraits—in spite of the cold.
A few notes on a shoot like this:
- Lit by two Bowens studio flashes, powered by a big battery. No modifiers: it was windy and the umbrellas would have pulled the lights to the ground quickly.
- I pointed the group away from the sun; else, they would have squinted.
- I used the 85mm f/1.2 lens, set to f/8-11.
- Avoid too much direct sunlioght on the subjects.
- But do use that sunlight – as the “shampooey goodness” light (a.k.a. the hairlight).
- You can do this without flash, of course. But I prefer the brighter subjects and the saturated colours. Matter of style!
To see what I mean: this is with flash:
…and this is without:
I encourage you all to have family portraits done. Because they last, and it’s the only time travel we do. You’ll be delighted later to have them, and the extra few hundred dollars are a small price compared to that.