DIY Photography Lighting Requirements for a Portrait

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Understanding the lighting requirements for a portrait helps you achieve the best possible results. Learn how the pros balance and measure light in this free video featuring a professional photographer.

Part of the Video Series: Portrait Photography
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Video Transcript

Hi everybody, I'm Paul with Paul Steven Photography, and I'm here to show you how to do do-it-yourself portrait photography. I know you're all going to enjoy this, but, the cheapest way to do do-it-yourself photography is outside, and here we are. The first thing I recommend you to get, though, is a good light meter. You don't have to get an expensive Seconic or other expensive ones. But, light meters, we push this button, hold it in, and it tells us F16, so I put the camera at F16. Whatever it tells us to do, we don't rely on what the camera tells you what to do; rely on the light meter. Sometimes the manufacturers light meter is not always the best. So, we're going to put the light meter away, we want to keep it simple for you and here's our subject over here. And what we're working is two lights; really same thing as in a studio. But here, to keep it really simple, we have the sun coming from over there and we have no light coming from over there. We're going to introduce a reflector and the reflector will be the other light source. So, Dan, if you keep through the reflector down by the building real low, and the, we take a couple of shots. You'll see that we have more shadow on the left side of Dan's face and more light on the other side. So, we always want the direction of light, that's why we have Dan underneath an awning and not out in the middle of, at noontime. Perfect time of the day, later in the day or early in the morning. Now Dan, move the reflector up and we can see how the light just lit up that side of his face and now we have two lights; the reflector and the sun. And that's how you do basic do-it-yourself portrait photography.

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