10 tips for great portrait photography at your local park

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Portrait photography is a fantastic way to hone both your camera and social skills, and lets you experiment with both studio flash and natural light. It can seem like a dark art though, how do you light your subject, get the best poses out of it, and what kit should you use?

This month, we aim to answer all of these questions and more! We teamed up with a reader from PhotoPlus: Canon magazine (opens in a new tab)Carole Stevens, for a portrait masterclass with portrait professional Rebecca Faith at her local park in the beautiful, picturesque city of Bath, England.

Rebecca, 46, is a professional portrait and wedding photographer based in Somerset. Her photographic journey began after traveling the world with her camera after graduating, where she majored in photography. In her more than 20 years as a professional, she has built up a portfolio of clients, including international corporations, and she has photographed everything from large weddings to private parties and public figures. Check out his website here (opens in a new tab).

Before you start, you can also consult the best lenses for portrait photography (opens in a new tab) – prime lenses that help you achieve frame-filling portraits.

1. Auto mode to Av

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Carole used to rely on auto mode because she was not comfortable with the exposure settings. Rebecca gave him some tips and showed him how to use Aperture Priority mode for more control. “To help Carole control her aperture for beautiful portraits, I had her use Av mode. Setting a wide aperture of around f/4 allows her to get sharp subjects with blurred backgrounds , which helps them stand out in the scene,” says Rebecca.

2. RAW is best

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“I always shoot in the Raw setting (opens in a new tab) on all my Canon cameras,” says Rebecca, “because it gives you a lot more leeway when editing the images afterwards. With a raw image, you can quickly change things like exposure, white balance, and shadows without compromising image quality. However, since Carole wasn’t sure she could edit Raw footage yet, Rebecca set her camera to capture Raw and JPEG. That way she had JPEGs, as well as Raw files if she needed them to play with in photoshop (opens in a new tab).

3. Shoot in the shade

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One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is trying to photograph people in direct sunlight. “You want to avoid ‘top light’ with sunlight from above because it creates nasty shadows on people’s faces, in addition to making them squint,” says Rebecca. “A few steps under the cover of the trees is enough, then the light is softer and comes from a lower level.”

4. Canon Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

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Becky has gone mirrorless and updated her Canon EOS DSLRs to a EOS-R (opens in a new tab) and EOS-R6 (opens in a new tab). “I love the smaller bodies and the electronic viewfinder is brilliant, especially in the R6. So I can see what my photos will look like before I take a picture,” says Rebecca. “I love the EOS R6 for portraits because it has improved AF. , including AF eye detection. »

5. Collapsible reflectors

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Reflectors (opens in a new tab) are a small, quick and inexpensive way to illuminate your subjects, as they are great for bouncing light to fill in ugly shadows. This gives a soft light compared to lights, which can be too harsh and take longer to install,” says Rebecca. “This Lastolite is silver for cooler reflected light and sunfire for warmer light.”

6. Main objectives

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Rebecca used to rely on zooms, but lately she’s been using primes more often for portraits. “My primary lenses are all fast lenses with wide maximum apertures of f/1.4 to f/1.8, which capture beautiful bokeh and razor-sharp photos,” she says. RF 50mm F1.8 STM (opens in a new tab) and RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM (opens in a new tab) budget lenses, plus a Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art lens, a big but fast lens.

7. Advanced AF Settings

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The latest Canon EOS mirrorless cameras, such as Rebecca’s EOS R6, feature highly advanced AI autofocus to make it easier to lock focus on different subjects. Using a single focus point on his R6 and AF modes in the pink menu with Servo AF, Eye Detection enabled and Subject set to People, his camera finds the subject’s eyes, even if the shot through the landscape or other objects are on the same focal plane. Seriously clever stuff!

8. White Balance

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Get the white balance (opens in a new tab) bang on guarantees that your shots are correct. “I noticed that Carole was using automatic white balance (AWB), but that can cause the color temperature of her images to vary, depending on where she’s shooting and how much sunlight is in the room. picture,” says Rebecca. “I suggested using the Daylight or Shade presets when shooting under shaded trees for more accurate white balance.”

9. Camera case

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“I’m often on the go when I’m doing portraits and I like to have my two cameras close at hand to avoid missing a moment or delaying the shot,” says Rebecca. “I use two Spider camera holsters on a belt, which come with clips for the base of my cameras, so I can insert and remove them quickly and securely. I use them with my EOS R with a RF 50mm F1.8 STM lens and my EOS R6 with a longer lens. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art (opens in a new tab) lens.”

10. Selective color temperature adjustment

“I shoot in Raw, which makes adjusting the white balance in Photoshop a lot easier,” says Rebecca. “Note that when shooting under trees, the green foliage can cause a color cast, so I often add a bit of magenta to people selectively using Adobe’s Radial Gradient tool Camera Raw, using the Temperature and Tint sliders in the Color section.”

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