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|Category:||Portraits and People|
Outdoor Winter portraits - With Winter getting ever closer, ePHOTOzine spoke to Chris Hanley about shooting outdoors and the equipment we'd need to make those portraits perfect.
|Using a combination of video light, tungsten white balance and daylight produces fantastic pictures.|
During the Winter months strobe lighting can help bring out details and highlights that might not be captured without it but Chris doesn't always give it prevalence over natural or tungsten lighting. He believes by not over using one particular light source you can produce a variety of images which will thrill your clients and give them choices.
When using flash, technically you should be able to shoot at a lower ISO with faster shutter speeds and reduce the risk of camera shake. You also get a better quality to the image file and a reduction of noise artefacts but sometimes using flash can look a little fake and to overcome this, Chris suggests you shoot for the ambient exposure.
"What I mean by this is take a frame of your subject and when it looks good on the back of the camera add a splash of flash from your speedlight which is set to manual, and the power setting reduced. You'll need to experiment a little, but start off with a 1/4 power setting. You're looking to add catchlights to eyes and illuminate your subject with just enough light to boost the contrast in your image."
Sometimes you'll find the flash, colour balance and ambient light will conflict but Chris says in the right settings, the warmth of ambient light with a splash of cooler flash can give fashion type portraits a great look. Chris' decision to use a video light for his portraits helps with this. It's a 100w light which has barn doors on it and a dimmer switch which offers him variable power. It's also a tungsten lighting source that warms pictures up in a way table and wall lamps do.
"Changing your white balance to tungsten in camera will cool the light temperature down. Using a combination of video light, tungsten white balance and daylight gives fantastic pictures. There is a beautiful warmth to skin tones, at the same time, any daylight in the frame is an enhanced cool blue. The real beauty of the battery powered video light is its portability, and what you see is what you get. As a continuous light source it comes into its own at weddings when you have to shoot interior set ups."
|This image was taken using natural light.|
Some other photographers prefer slightly warmer portraits and if you shoot in JPEG and using flash you can set your white balance to cloudy to do this.
When you're working in lowlight conditions or even indoors Chris says Damien Lovegrove's magical settings will always work. 1/60th sec at f/4, ISO800 gives a great exposure and balance between ambient light and flash. He says to not forget the Stofen on the Speedlight or a good reflector either. These can be really useful for redirecting and warming up low Winter sun, or when you need to create shade on cold and frosty days when the sun can be quite harsh. He also relies on two good lenses: 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8.
"I love shooting on the long lens at a wide aperture when I have sparkling highlights in the background. This could be winter sun reflections dancing of a cold inky black lake or a mosiac of urban festive lights."
Don't forget that moving from outside to inside on cold, damp days could mist your lens and camera eyepiece up and some acclimatising time will be needed – the perfect excuse for a coffee break! Cold will affect battery performance too and Chris always carries fully charged spares which on really cold days, he carries in his pockets.
With a Chris Hanley winter portrait shoot you have a choice of rural or urban. They have two or three routes they use on each shoot which has some cafe/bars or teashops and pubs along the way. They find it's a good way to take time out, refuel, touch up the lippy and hair, change a top and spend a penny. If you do decide to head off into a town or city where stops will be in abundance, why not try heading there at twilight where you can shoot on a long lens and a wide aperture to get plenty of out of focus sparkling lights in the background – Bokeh to those who like the technical words. Or why not combine your shoot with your clients Christmas shopping trip or January sales?
"I also love the starkness of trees, almost black and white skeletons. Add a kid or two, or a couple with bright clothing and you get fun pictures."
For Chris, the whole nature of a winter shoot conjures up images of warmth, comfy clothing, and togetherness. Keeping these sort of ideas and adjectives in mind, you will be able to portray a theme to your clients who should be able to quite naturally slip into an informal pose to convey this without really having to try or feel self conscious. Creating role play situations really does help your subjects to relax in front of the lens and add a few chunky jumpers, snug boots and vibrant brollies into the mix and you should be able to create a great collection of Winter images.
Visit Chris Hanley's website.