View Full Version : Existing Light Portraits

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09-08-2008, 08:12 AM
Existing/natural light is always better for portraits. A collapsing reflector is great for this. It weighs practically nothing and it folds right up to fit in your bag.
Just to show you an example:

Thomas Bertilsson
09-08-2008, 08:39 AM
I've come to realize how difficult it is to only have light and nothing else... A reflector is your best friend, and something or someone to hold it in place.
Dirty windows are great. Watch the direction of light carefully to judge shadows.
Have something warm and comfortable for your model to wear between frames that doesn't leave marks. Take breaks.
For me gross overexposure has worked and then pull develop, to reduce contrast.
Have a very flexible tripod that can get very close to the ground and high up without getting rickety.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

- Thomas

09-08-2008, 09:21 AM
Thanks folks... I'll keep you posted as this project evolves... (and as to when and if it actually takes place... more of a story there)

Thank for the exposure tips, Thomas.


Cheryl Jacobs
09-17-2008, 04:34 PM
Hello, Steve and all,

I'm still here (sort of). I've had some health issues and can't seem to feel good two days in a row, but as luck would have it, I'm still alive. Thanks for thinking of me.

- CJ

Nicholas Lindan
09-17-2008, 05:23 PM
A collapsing reflector is great for this.

A good source of collapsing reflectors is the auto parts store (also, most likely, Walmart/K-Mart/etc.).


10-26-2008, 12:05 PM
The best way would be using a sturdy tripod. Also it is not a bad idea to use the white reflector.

Ian Grant
10-26-2008, 01:16 PM
There's a knack to available light portraiture, back in the mid 70's I made a living doing them. It's not difficult but it is intuitive, I started when a friend asked me to shoot portraits of him and his 3 sisters for their parents as a Silver wedding present. For about 2 years I shot hundreds of commercial shoots, then changed direction entirely.

I have to admit that I lost the knack, once I began using studio flash and shooting commercial work I lost enthusiasm for available light portraits. I guess I got lazy.

So I have a lot of respect for photographers like Cheryl jacobs and Nicole, and I raelly enjoy seeing & looking at their images. I don't want to go back - landscape photography is what I enjoy shooting most now and I still shoot rock bands live for a record label but unfortunately no longer with film.


10-27-2008, 07:48 AM
I just did a cursory read through this thread, but I am surprised no one mentioned the MOST important accessory of all - the incident light meter. Knowing how to use one with natural light will make or break your image. It's particularly important if you're using it in combination with a flash - like in a single light set up environmental portraits or even with your on camera flash or hotshoe mounted flash. It's also particularly useful to know just how much fill light you'll get with various available reflectors.

I 'meter' the general environment so that I know the light in the nooks and crannies, by the various windows, etc... and not having to meter before every single shot. Anyway, this is an old thread, so I'm not sure this information is useful to you any more. Show us some pics if you've taken them already.

Regards, Art.

10-29-2008, 06:14 AM
I find a very useful silver mottled reflector that can be rolled up and put in my camera bag is a space blanket that can be bought from camping and outdoor shops.