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04-17-2012, 08:21 AM   #1
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Outdoor Photoshoot

A friend of mine (also a photographer) and I are taking my girlfriend out this weekend for a fun photoshoot. She wants some pictures of herself taken and then a few of the two of us together. The pictures of her I will taking myself, and my friend will be taking the ones of us together.

Since I don't have any form of off camera lighting to help with shadows from the sun, I'm assuming a simple white piece of foam board will work, right? I remember from the last outdoor shoot I did that there tended to be deep shadows on 1 side of the face depending on the angle from the sun. I can just have my friend hold the board where I need when shooting.

I'm also wondering, would bringing my tripod be worth it? Shutter-speed wise I will definitely be shooting fast enough to not need a tripod, but I've heard that fast speed or not, a tripod still makes a world of difference when shooting, correct? I've only ever personally used a tripod when using slow shutter speeds, so I haven't seen this in action. The reason I ask is because I don't have a quick-connector on my tripod so for me to take the camera on/off I would have to screw and unscrew the body from the tripod every time. Just checking to see if it would really be worth the hassle.

Lastly, since she's wanting kind of senior-portrait pictures done, I'm going to be looking at some online to get an idea of poses and what not for being out in a field with trees and a lake. Do any of y'all have any suggestions for poses that are considered a *must have* shot for shoots like this?


*EDIT* Forgot to add one last thing: If I'm using my kit lens, due to the lack of a wide aperture for easy-D.O.F control, IIRC, to obtain a thin depth of field like when using my Super-Tak 55/1.8, the subject must be far from the background and close to the camera, correct? Like this: Background ---------------------------------Subject-----Camera

04-17-2012, 08:57 AM   #2
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Try to get a large mirror, it works wonders, but might be a little heavy. Also you could get some weird looks from others.
04-17-2012, 09:01 AM   #3
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The circular fabric reflectors can be twisted up for easier transport and storage. You can also "sort" of bend them a little to focus the reflections. Usually white or silver on one side and gold on the other.

Tripod not needed.
04-17-2012, 09:05 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbuck92 Quote
Since I don't have any form of off camera lighting to help with shadows from the sun, I'm assuming a simple white piece of foam board will work, right? I remember from the last outdoor shoot I did that there tended to be deep shadows on 1 side of the face depending on the angle from the sun. I can just have my friend hold the board where I need when shooting.
Some sort of reflector is better then nothing if you're trying to fill dark areas. Also consider avoiding or minimizing such situations by having the model with their back to the sun or just shooting in shade. You could buy one. They're fairly cheap. Also, some auto shades would work well.

QuoteQuote:
I'm also wondering, would bringing my tripod be worth it? Shutter-speed wise I will definitely be shooting fast enough to not need a tripod, but I've heard that fast speed or not, a tripod still makes a world of difference when shooting, correct? I've only ever personally used a tripod when using slow shutter speeds, so I haven't seen this in action. The reason I ask is because I don't have a quick-connector on my tripod so for me to take the camera on/off I would have to screw and unscrew the body from the tripod every time. Just checking to see if it would really be worth the hassle.
A tripod will always be better, but sometimes it's not practical. It's also best with a remote since touching the camera can introduce shake and using the timer on people is just bad. You can do without, just be mindful of motion and your shutter speed.

QuoteQuote:
*EDIT* Forgot to add one last thing: If I'm using my kit lens, due to the lack of a wide aperture for easy-D.O.F control, IIRC, to obtain a thin depth of field like when using my Super-Tak 55/1.8, the subject must be far from the background and close to the camera, correct? Like this: Background ---------------------------------Subject-----Camera
Sort of. Depth of field is a function of your lens, not the environment. Your DOF won't become thinner by changing the distance between subject and background. But yes, when using wider apertures the effect is as you stated: the background will be more blurred with the greater separation. Why use the kit if you have the 55mm Tak? The wider angle of the kit might be good if you want to include the environment in the picture, but the distortion from it will not be very flattering if taken close. The 55mm is a better focal length for portraits and you'll also have the advantage of a greater control over DOF. I'd also consider using the 55-300mm. Unlike the 18-55 I think you'll find the entire range of the 55-300 to be useful.

04-17-2012, 09:16 AM   #5
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You don't really need a tripod for what you're doing. If you're shooting in bright sun, the shutter speeds will make a tripod unnecessary. Especially if you're shooting F/1.8 pictures.

As for lighting, direct sunlight is very hard light. Generally this is not flattering because it causes harsh shadows and highlights skin flaws. If you're shooting on an overcast or cloudy day, the light will be much softer. If you are shooting on a clear day, you can shot your subject in the shade, and use a reflector to still create a soft, directional light. Generally, you want soft, yet directional light. A large white foam board will work well as a reflector.

You're correct about the distances between background, subject, and camera for good out of focus backgrounds. Be mindful of what's behind your subject. You want it out of focus so as not to detract attention. But you also want it not so blurry that you lose the context of where the subject is. As for poses, I highly recommend you google around for sample pictures and take inspiration from those. They will give you lots of ideas. And honestly, if you're pretty new to this, don't be afraid to copy someone else's concept to get your feet wet. Only with a lot of practice will your technical skill no longer be your limiting factor. For shots of you two together, the photos should capture your interaction. I love shooting people together because you're not just trying to capture the essence of the person. You're trying to capture the relationship between the people. If it suits your personalities, keep it light and fun. Memory is cheap, so don't be afraid to experiment and shoot a ton of frames.

Good luck, and have fun!
04-17-2012, 10:43 AM   #6
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Great thanks! I was probably going to be using my Tak. Didn't think about the 55-300 though, thanks! I'll see if I can find any foam board or maybe a true reflector this week. I think the weather is supposed to be fairly sunny, but we're going at about 5:30-6 in the evening so itll be a bit softer then. I read about diffusers for outdoor portraits, anyone have any experience using these? Im not sure if shade will be readily available at the locations we'll be at so I may look into one of those as well.
04-17-2012, 11:40 AM   #7
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Lot of good tips. You can get a good sized foam board from the Home Depot or Lowes. Check the aisle where they keep insulation materials. The boards range in size, cost $3 to $11 bucks, and have a white/silver side.

If there is no shade, have your subject's back facing the sun and fill in shadows with the white board. This creates a nice glow surrounding the subject, particularly around the hair. Try not to reflect light directly into the face, as that'll cause squinting, and you'll want to focus on eyes. Use Zooms at the mid range (I.e. 100mm or 150mm) if you're shooting with 55-300mm for less distortion and a slimming effect.
04-17-2012, 11:52 AM   #8
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Thanks! If I were to buy an actual reflector, what size should I look at getting for just a single person? And can anyone comment on a diffuser?

04-17-2012, 01:25 PM   #9
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I have a diffuser that came with a studio kit I bought off eBay. Guess what? I've never used it. The thing about reflectors and diffusers, they are pretty much useless unless you have an assistant or stand to hold them in place. Especially a diffuser, since you really need to have someone standing near and holding it over the subject. At least with a reflector, you may get away with propping it against something. Not so with a diffuser.

And although you have a friend around this time, consider that you may be working solo in the future without assistance. It's cheaper and easier to omit the diffuser and wait for a better time of day where light is less harsh.
04-17-2012, 01:58 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by einstrigger Quote
I have a diffuser that came with a studio kit I bought off eBay. Guess what? I've never used it. The thing about reflectors and diffusers, they are pretty much useless unless you have an assistant or stand to hold them in place. Especially a diffuser, since you really need to have someone standing near and holding it over the subject. At least with a reflector, you may get away with propping it against something. Not so with a diffuser.

And although you have a friend around this time, consider that you may be working solo in the future without assistance. It's cheaper and easier to omit the diffuser and wait for a better time of day where light is less harsh.
I believe by 'diffusers' it was meant 'cap that you put on a flash to "soften" the output'. You don't need anybody to hold them and they're darn useful.

Last edited by Giklab; 04-17-2012 at 02:10 PM.
04-17-2012, 02:11 PM   #11
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No I meant a diffuser you would hold. I don't have an off camera flash yet so any lighting work I do has to be done with the light I have
04-17-2012, 02:14 PM   #12
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The other problem with diffusers is that they have to be pretty big to completely cover your subject for even a head and shoulders portrait. And if you have ONLY the diffuser over them, it will give a pretty flat, boring light. Like standing in the shade. Without another reflector to kick some more directional light in there, I find the results with just a diffuser to be usually uninteresting. That and the fact that your background will be several EV higher. It's tricky to balance out for sure.
04-17-2012, 02:16 PM   #13
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Alright I'll just stick with a reflector then!
04-17-2012, 04:48 PM   #14
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I paid about $50 at my local camera store for a small, portable 5-in-1 reflector. It is light, folds down smaller than a dinner plate and it has white, black, silver and gold reflective sides, and the middle is translucent so you can put it between your subject and the light to soften it. SUPER handy. The come in a bunch of different sizes.
04-17-2012, 05:21 PM   #15
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Speaking of reflectors, here's the one I have. Allows you to do great things outdoors.

Westcott 5-in-1 Reflector Disc
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