Knowing your starting settings for shooting in manual mode will make this skill so much easier! Regardless of if you’re shooting outdoors in sunny or cloudy weather or you’re indoor you can start here. Today we’ll look at what your camera settings for portrait photography should be! I also want to invite you join my free class called 5 Steps to Launching Your Photography Side-Gig! If you enjoy photography and would love to do this as a form of income there are some key steps to making that happen. Hop in the class and start making a profit off of what you’re passionate about!
Three settings you need to know are the following: Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed. I always set them in that order first. I don’t touch my aperture once its set. And I only adjust the ISO and shutter speed based off of lighting. Now when setting my camera settings for portrait photography I make an educated guess based off of experience and take a tester shot. If my settings are too bright I know I’ll have to either lower my ISO or raise my Shutter Speed. When the picture is too dark I’ll raise my ISO or lower my Shutter Speed. I typically adjust ISO for major changes and Shutter Speed for fine details.
*Quick tips: grain in your photo often comes from a high ISO (usually the 1200 range is where you see grain). Blur often comes from a low Shutter Speed. A good rule of thumb for the Shutter Speed is to double your focal length and make that your minimum (50 mm lens = no less than 1/100).
Adjust your settings to let less light in. I start with my aperture at f/2.8 and my ISO is at 100. Once you do this, leave it because you have all this bright light and don’t need more. That leaves your shutter speed the only one left to adjust. Take a tester shot and if it’s too bright you just raise your shutter speed. I start with 1/200 and you can raise it from there depending on what you need!
Again, I start with my aperture at f/2.8, my ISO starting at 400 and my shutter speed 1/200. If the tester shot still leaves the photo too dark you’re not going to touch the shutter speed because if you lower the shutter speed it makes it brighter. However, we are already starting low. That leaves your ISO for adjustments. Try raising it as needed.
See how certain settings are isolated. On a sunny day you isolate your shutter speed. On a cloudy day you isolate your ISO.
Let’s talk about camera settings for portrait photography without a flash. Flash is a whole different world so today we’re looking strictly at natural light indoor. Start with aperture at f/2.8, ISO at 600 (typically it’s just darker inside) and shutter speed is 1/200. Similarly to a cloudy day that shutter speed needs to stay low and you focus on adjusting your ISO. Keep in mind that grain that tries to creep in with a super high ISO. Take some tester shots and find the sweet spot! If all else fails and you can’t find that perfect lighting without it getting grainy you may have to introduce a flash. I’ll link some resources below on using a flash. For now, use these helpful tips and start practicing!
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