Who wouldn't want to learn how to produce some wonderful and pleasing portraits utilizing only natural light? That was just the topic on tap on this sunny Sunday in July. Aperture Academy's Ellie Stone and Alicia Telfer led 10 students around the Pruneyard shopping center to demonstrate how to achieve stunning results, using only the available natural light.
Ellie and Alicia began the workshop activities with introductions. Getting to know everyone's skill levels and expectations are vital, since our workshops are tailored to each individual student.
Ellie went over some brief refreshers on aperture and depth of field, which are imperative for portrait photography. Alicia displayed some sample portraits, taken in the same area where the class was taking place. After the review, it was time to take the group outside for the excitement and fun of the tactile portion of the workshop!
Mother Nature provided one of the most challenging of lighting conditions, bright sun. Unlike landscape photography, where we can shoot during the best light situations, in portrait photography, especially in cases like at weddings, we are oftentimes forced to photograph subjects mid-day, even under full sun. Therefore, learning how to deal with an unfortunate lighting scenario can allow a photographer to feel confident, knowing they can make simple adjustments to achieve a great shot under nearly any condition.
Class began right outside the gallery doors. The instructors assisted with camera settings and explained why ISO and shutter speed are so important. If one has a beautiful model, posed in an attractive way, under the best lighting conditions, it's all for naught if the camera settings are incorrect. While aperture is the most important factor, due to its relationship to depth of field, if the shutter speed is not fast enough, the handheld image will not be sharp. More often than not, a slow shutter speed without a tripod means a very blurry photo.
The group made their way around the Pruneyard shopping center, stopping often to take advantage of the changing light and differing architecture. At every corner there was a new challenge for students, and new opportunities for learning. They dealt with backlight, high contrast, and even a dark hallway. They also learned how even a basic green shrub can provide an interesting and flattering background, while understanding how to read the light, and seeing how moving a model's face ever so slightly can create a dramatically different effect.
As the class continued, the gang made their way around the picturesque shopping center, which seemed to have an endless supply of backdrops and different lighting options. The three-hour class flew by and before we knew it, it was time to set up for a final shot, a class photo of the entire group, so everyone would have a memento of their day and Aperture Academy experience.
After the final photo of the day, Ellie and Alicia stayed to answer some final questions and then thanked everyone for their participation on that fun and informative day!
Until next time,
Ellie, Alicia and the rest of the Aperture Academy team!
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.