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Better People Photos

People and other subjects look better when you avoid front and overhead lighting. For better photos of family and friends of any age, use these tips to supplement the exposure settings needed for the lighting conditions.

Avoid Overhead Lighting

I recommend shooting before 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m. because the sun casts longer, more interesting shadows, and with people, it's easier to avoid shadows on the face (see Figure 7.23).

Figure 7.23

Figure 7.23 High noon is a good time for lunch, not photos. Note the heavy shadows across the face.

Backlight Is Flattering, But Watch the Exposure

Shooting your subjects when they face away from the sun helps the face to relax and captures a halo effect around the hair (see Figure 7.24). In some cases (but not in this photo), you might need to increase exposure by +0.7 to +1.0 EV.

Figure 7.24

Figure 7.24 Backlighting outlines the subject.

Distracting Background? Blur It Away

One of the reasons I prefer wide-aperture (f/2.8 and faster) lenses is because they make it easier to blur out the background. Compare Figures 7.25 and 7.26.

Figure 7.25

Figure 7.25 At f/5.6 (2.75x/50mm), the background is distracting.

Figure 7.26

Figure 7.26 At f/2.8 (2.75x/50mm), the background is blurred out.

On scene-driven cameras, use Portrait mode to help blur out the background.

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