How to: Basics of Portrait Lighting

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Is there anything worse in photography than the dreaded red eye? You know, the effect that’s caused by the built-in flash that sits on top of most DSLR cameras, the one that makes little Timmy look like the son of Satan?

\"\"Most people would say there isn’t, and that’s just one of the obstacles preventing most photographers from getting the best out of their portraits. So to help combat these dilemmas, DigitalCameraReview has put together a guide that should help shooters understand the fundamentals of portrait lighting.

The first things users will have to do is get the flash away from the camera, using a technique dubbed off-camera flash. After that, a second off-camera flash (or some similar effect) can be used in conjunction with the first through a special extension cord, because the goal is to get all the light to be spread out evenly across the shot. No fancy backgrounds will be needed (DCR says that even something like a white bed sheet will do), and the person or thing being portrayed has to sit far enough away from said background to avoid casting a shadow onto the surface.

The light that’s created from all of this then needs to be “softened,” or made to wrap around the subject being pictured. The pros out there may opt for a dedicated “soft box,” but DCR notes that those on a budget can just use a $3 shower curtain and hang it gently in front of the off-camera flash. It actually works when done correctly.

But this is just the basic setup. To get more advanced details on how to capture that perfect, yet inexpensive, portrait, take a look at DigitalCameraReview’s complete How To guide for learning to basics of portrait lighting.



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