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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

3 Useful Camera Techniques to Up Your Portraiture Skills

2023-11-06
14
3.67 k

Want to level up your portraiture? Here are three techniques to try out. See what you can achieve with them! (Reported by Shimpei Takagi, Digital Camera Magazine/ Models: OTO, Yui Takagi)

In this article:

 

1. Make your model move and capture them in action

EOS R6 Mark II/ RF50mm f/1.2L USM/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4, 1/800 sec)/ ISO 400


Leverage on your camera’s high-speed continuous shooting function

If you have been mostly photographing portrait subjects in static poses, it’s time to shake things up and get them moving. Introducing movement t is also an important portraiture technique! Use your camera’s high-speed continuous shooting function to freeze as many moments as possible. The key is to look out for details that express something as they move.


The story behind these shots

Noticing that the model’s hairstyle seemed to come alive whenever she moved, I decided to make it the subject of this action sequence.

I shot the model’s profile view as the movement of her braids was more obvious from this angle. I asked her to bounce as she ran to make them move more. Continuous shooting is ideal for scenes like this, where there is a lot of unpredictability! I got her to run for about 50 metres and moved along with her, firing continuous shots. Then, I chose the shot with the most interesting hair movement.

 

Recommended settings for continuous shooting


1. Subject to detect: People

The latest generation of cameras that feature the deep learning-based EOS iTR AF X subject detection system can detect people even if their faces aren’t visible, such as when their head is lowered or they are facing away from you. It’s great for capturing moving people: it helped me catch those shots above easily even though both the model and I were running!


2. Whole area tracking Servo AF: On (if you changed this setting)

This is turned on by default, so you don’t have to worry unless you turned it off! It increases AF accuracy when you are tracking a moving person, so you can leave focusing to the camera and concentrate on the composition.


Learn more about different AF settings in:
5 Tips for Better Subject Detection and Tracking


3. Drive mode:  High speed continuous H+

There are situations where a slower continuous shooting mode would be more practical. However, a fast continuous shooting speed is ideal for scenes like this one, where you never know how the model’s hair would move and want to increase your options.

The H+ mode lets you access your camera’s fastest possible continuous shooting speed. This is up to 40 fps on the EOS R6 Mark II—so fast that it almost feels like you are shooting a video.

Tip: Time your burst sequences with the model’s movement and your own breathing.


Find out more about continuous shooting modes in:
Shutter Modes & Continuous Shooting Modes: When to Use Which?

Get more creative ideas about how to use continuous shooting in:
3 Creative Ways to Use Your Camera’s Continuous Shooting Mode
How to Create a Wide-Angle Panorama Portrait

 

2. Use a flash to soften harsh contrasts under strong sunlight

EOS R6 Mark II/ RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 24mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/7.1, 1/250 sec, EV -1.0)/ ISO 400
External flash: Speedlite EL-5


Using a direct flash as fill lighting can create an impactful shot

Shooting under strong sunlight can cause harsh contrasts on your subject’s skin. You can reduce them by using a flash as fill lighting.

The image above was shot in a park under the mid-afternoon sun. I used E-TTL mode with the flash compensation set to -1, effectively reducing the harsh shadows on the model’s face.

No flash

With flash


Tip: Set your flash settings with your camera

I used the Speedlite EL-5 and adjusted the flash compensation to achieve my intended effect. Being able to check and tweak flash settings directly from the camera was very convenient.


For more simple outdoor flash photography ideas and techniques, see:
[Flash Technique] Creating a Pop Art-inspired Night Portrait
How to Shoot Portraits Against the Sunset
2 Instant Techniques to Liven Up Your Outdoor Portraits
[2-Light Technique] Achieving Edgy Outdoor Images in Broad Daylight

 

3. Shoot confidently indoors with ISO Auto: Put a slow shutter speed limit

EOS R6 Mark II/ RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 31mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 1/50 sec, EV -0.3)/ ISO 200


Additional insurance in low light situations

This image was shot using only evening sunlight entering from the window. As I wanted a sharper image with more elements in focus, I narrowed the aperture to f/11, making a slower shutter speed necessary and the concern of camera shake very real.

I used the EOS R6 Mark II with the RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, which achieve up to 8 stops’ image stabilisation effect when combined. That’s good insurance on its own, but I wanted additional peace of mind. Shooting in Aperture-priority AE mode, I turned on ISO Auto mode and set a minimum shutter speed limit.


What the ISO Auto Minimum Shutter Speed setting does

The ISO Auto minimum shutter speed setting is effective in Program AE (P) and Aperture-priority AE (Av) modes. It ensures that the camera doesn’t set a shutter speed slower than this limit, and uses the ISO speed to compensate for exposure. It’s useful for preventing camera shake even if your camera has no In-Body IS—just set a higher minimum shutter speed. You can also use it to prevent subject blur.


Learn more about it in:
ISO Auto Tip: Prevent Subject Blur with this Must-know Setting!

About the Author

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation

Shimpei Takagi

Born in 1985 in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, Takagi specialises in commercial and editorial portraiture and beauty photography. His unique use of colour has earned his images features on many platforms. He is also a photography instructor for vocational colleges and enterprises.

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