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Pro Tip for Great Outdoor Portraits

Ever wondered what’s the biggest secret behind those professional looking outdoor portraits. Yes the single most important trick to make your outdoor portraits look professional is to shoot with wide open apertures.

outdoor portrait photography tips
Photo by: chris zerbes

Shooting wide open has many advantages, the shallow depth of field produced when shooting wide open will make your subject stand out from the background. The background will be rendered as a smooth blur there by producing some visual separation between the subject and the background, and thus the viewer’s attention will now be entirely focused on the main subject.

How to achieve this effect

outdoor portrait photography
Photo by: chris zerbes

The easiest way of achieving such results consistently is to set your camera to Aperture Priority / AV mode and select an f/stop that is either the lowest or one stop narrower than the lenses’ maximum aperture.

For example.

If you are shooting with a lens which has f/2.8 as its maximum aperture then either shoot at f/2.8 or at f/4 which is one stop narrower than the lenses maximum aperture.

outdoor portrait photography tip
Photo by: chris zerbes

This is the most commonly used technique used by professional photographers to create those dreamy looking outdoor portraits. However you should be extremely careful about your focusing when using this technique, make sure you focus right on the subjects eyes, it is very important when shooting with very shallow depth of field, as even if the focus is slightly off it could entirely ruin the shot.

Related Reading

  1. Environmental Portrait Photography Tips
  2. Classic Portraiture - Determining Camera Placement and Height
  3. Reducing Glare When Photographing People Who Wear Glasses
  4. What Lens Should I Choose? Tips for choosing the right lens for portraits
  5. How to Photograph Silhouettes - Tips for Photographing Silhouettes
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