Candid portrait photography: how to use a macro lens to draw out character

In this quick tutorial we’ll show you how to get up close and personal with your macro lens to take candid portrait photography that really draws out the character of your subject.

Candid portrait photography: how to use a macro lens to draw out character from your subjects

All images and text by Hollie Latham

Photo composition can often be the most challenging aspect of taking a photograph, and in portrait photography we need to think hard about where to position our subject, how much ‘breathing space’ we should leave around them, what should be in focus and so on.

However, there’s more potential for pushing the boundaries of how we frame portraits than with other subjects.

The most striking portrait photography is often that which breaks the rules, so in this candid portrait photography project we’re going to be looking at how you can capture a more abstract style of portrait that goes against some of the conventions of photo composition, by coming in really close for maximum impact.

You’ll need a friend or family member who can model for you. Look for distinguishing features that you can accentuate, such as the eyes, mouth and bone structure, and try to coax expressions from them that convey something of their character; our model had striking eyes and long hair, so we worked with those features in particular.

You can either concentrate on capturing one portrait, or shoot a series of images that can be presented together, as we’ve done.

SEE MORE: How to compose a classic portrait

How to shoot up-close, candid portrait photography

How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 1

Let there be light!
For close-ups you need soft natural light for the best results, so if you’re shooting outside avoid bright sunshine. If the weather is miserable you can shoot indoors like we did, positioning your model by a window.

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, use a reflector to bounce light back onto your model’s face and fill in unflattering shadows.

SEE MORE: Photography lighting – how to take control of everything from natural light to your camera’s pop-up flash

How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 2

Macro lens
The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro is ideal, as you can get up close without being restricted to the minimum focusing distance, as you would with a non-macro lens.

The 100mm focal length enables you to get nice close-ups without distorting facial features, and the lens has a four-stop stabiliser, which is great for shooting handheld in low light.

SEE MORE: What is a macro lens – magnification, minimum focus distance explained

How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 3

Camera settings
Set your camera to Manual mode for full control. To shoot handheld you’ll need to set a wide aperture to let in plenty of light; depending on the speed of your lens this will be somewhere between f/2.8 and f/5.6.

This will ensure that you have a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake, and will also create a nice shallow depth of field, so your model’s facial features stay sharp while peripheral detail and the backdrop are thrown out of focus.

SEE MORE: The best camera settings for perfect portrait photography

How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 4

Shutter speed
Once you’ve set your aperture, half-press the shutter button to meter the scene, and turn the dial to adjust the shutter speed until the exposure indicator is in the middle to obtain a balanced exposure.

Keep the ISO low for maximum image quality; however, to ensure you have a fast enough shutter speed to capture pin-sharp shots you may need to increase the ISO to 400 or even 800, depending on the ambient lighting.


How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 5

When it comes to composition, try to think outside the box and capture something a bit different. Most portraits are taken face-on with the camera around the subject’s eye level, so try changing the camera angle and viewpoint.

Get up high and shoot down on your subject, and get low and angle the camera up for an abstract feel. Try shots from the side too, with your subject looking both at you and away from you.


How to shoot candid portrait photography: step 6

Focus on features
Make the most of features such as the eyes, mouth and hair, but don’t feel that you have to include every feature in a single frame.

Try shooting half of your model’s face, or their profile, and come in tight to emphasise details such as the eyes for added impact.

For precise focusing, manually select the autofocus point that’s closest to the detail you want to capture – you’ll need to change the active focus point as you compose different shots.

SEE MORE: Master your camera’s autofocus – which AF points to use (and when to use them)

Final candid portrait photography tips

Show examples
To capture natural-looking portraits your model needs to feel relaxed. Direct your model as much as you can, explain what you’re trying to achieve, and show them some of the shots you’re getting to make them feel more involved.

It helps to have a selection of images that you’ve seen online or in magazines and books on hand during your shoot, to give you ideas and inspiration.

 SEE MORE: 10 posing mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)

Candid portrait photography tips: use a reflector

Use a reflector
A reflector is simply a large sheet of reflective material that’s used to direct light onto a subject.

When you’re shooting portraits in natural light you can use a lightweight, collapsible reflector.

They’re a cheap, portable and easy-to-use option for controlling the light without having to use flash.

Reflectors are available in a range of sizes and colours, and many have multiple surfaces so that you can create different effects.

White is great for lifting shadows and balancing the light, gold adds a warm glow to skin tones, and silver creates a much cooler feel and can also create nice highlights in the eyes.

PAGE 1: How to shoot up-close, candid portrait photography
PAGE 2: How to edit your candid portrait photography


Wide-angle portraits: how to use your wide-angle lens to caricature your friends
How to abuse your raw files to create stunning high-key portraits
10 common portrait photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)
14 portrait photography tips you’ll never want to forget
17 posing tips and in-camera slimming tricks for shooting curvy models

[syndicated from Digital Camera World]

Guide to Creative White Balance for Landscape Photography

If you’ve been using a digital camera for any length of time, you’ve probably heard about White Balance. You may still be wondering exactly what it is, and how to use it; or you may be using it right now and be wondering how it can possibly be something “creative”.

Creative white balance landscape photography

Different white balance settings create different looks

I’m going to show you some of my techniques for using White Balance to creatively enhance your landscape photography and with a few simple steps you can unlock the remarkable power of creative White Balance. Don’t worry, this is not a technical discussion, there are lots of references about that aspect of White Balance online. This article explains a simple shooting technique you can start using right now.

The Color of Light

How to Remove Color Casts in Photoshop

If you’re shooting with soft lighting and a colorful backdrop, it’s all too common to find a bit of color affecting the subject—green backgrounds make them look sickly, orange makes them glow, stuff like that. In this tutorial, Michael Woloszynowicz shows off a handy little tip that avoids Photoshop‘s messy trial-and-error color balance correction:

As he points out, the original image is simply too orange. The subject looks like she just came from a tanning salon:

5 Reasons for Doing Natural Light Portraits

Natural light portrait

With all the attention given to the art and craft of shooting portraits using flash, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is the only way to take a portrait. The truth is that while fashionable Speedlites get all the attention, there are photographers working almost entirely in natural light and creating beautiful portraits without a softbox or light stand in sight.

13 tips to ensure your photo project is unique

In our ongoing Shoot Like A Pro series we teamed up with our sister title, the Nikon magazine N-Photo, to explore the many different ways you can sell photos online, in print, and elsewhere in ways you might not have considered before.

This week we continue by introducing you to a photographer, Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz, who’s innovative project to throw milk over nude models and photograph them with high-speed flash became a viral sensation on the internet. Below, Jaroslav shares 13 of his best tips for creating a unique photography project, culled from his own experience.

13 tips to ensure your photo project is unique

How to make sure your photo project is unique

01 Be unique
Liquid photography has been around for years, but I decided to give it my own twist by combining freeze flash techniques with the classic pinup style of Gil Elvgren.

02 Find a hero
When I was starting out I would obsess over the work of great photographers like Paulo Vainer, Christophe Gilbert or Bill Cahill, and I’d contact them asking if I could assist on shoots.

03 Work nights
I still work as an architect too so my time is precious. I’ll often sit down at 10pm and edit shots till 4am. If you’re passionate enough about photography, you’ll make the time.

04 Don’t over-share?
I don’t actually like social media that much, mainly because some photographers abuse it and bombard the world with tons of terrible images. I only share my best shots, and not too often.

SEE MORE: Social media for photographers – the 10 worst mistakes everyone makes

05 Put your time into shooting, instead?
I prefer to focus on taking amazing and unusual pictures, and they take a huge amount of time. For example, I spent 15 months shooting my set of 12 milky pinup images.

13 tips to ensure your photo project is unique

06 Get into video?
If you can shoot great pictures with your Nikon D-SLR then you can shoot great video too. It’s a great extra skill to offer clients, and you can create behind-the-scenes peeks at your shoots which drive traffic to your site.

07 Get Photoshop savvy
Post-production on a single image can take me anything from a few hours to a few days. Photoshop is the 21st century’s darkroom; using it is an essential skill.

SEE MORE: 101 Photoshop tips you really need to know

08 Be strict with admin?
There’s no point trying to sell your shots if you aren’t going to keep up with admin. Recently it took me a whole month just to agree the brief and fee with a client – there’s a lot of phone calling and emailing to do every day.

09 Storyboard your shoots
As you can see on my blog ( I always plan and design how a set of images is going to look. A shoot is a lot easier if everyone can see a sketch of what you want to achieve.

10 Make your own props
People are always surprised to hear that I make and source almost all the props in my pictures, but it saves a lot of money and means I get exactly the look I want.

11 Tour your workshops
I don’t just recreate my shots in workshops, I actually shoot new images and have photography students come along to watch and help. I head round the world shooting and teaching my techniques in England, America ?and Australia.

12 Hire, don’t buy
Until the end of 2012 I had just one camera, a Nikon D300, and two lenses. If I needed more kit for a big photography job I’d hire it from websites such as

13 Plug the work of others
I always big up the great models, makeup artists and designers I’ve worked with on my shoots through my blog posts, making sure I link to their own websites. It’s polite, it shows off the diverse people I work with and they’ll often link back to me.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERHow to make a unique photography project

Name: Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz
Location: ?London, UK

? What is your specialist subject?

Liquid photography, plus commercial and advertising shoots.

? Best paid shoot?

One assignment for a client was worth $50,000. That’s small potatoes compared to some of my commissions as an architect, so I wasn’t as nervous as I might have been!

? Biggest photo disaster?

No huge ones so far! I often come up with new ideas and they fail the first time I try them out, but that’s not a bad thing.

? First time you knew you’d made it?

When journalists and TV stations picked up on my milk images.


10 camera techniques to master in 2014
Inspirational pictures: 8 ways to get your photo mojo back
Scott Kelby – the secret to growing a loyal legion of followers
10 things you aren’t doing with your images, but probably should

[syndicated from Digital Camera World]

5 simple ways to grow your photography business over social media

Still think Facebook is just for your teenage daughter? If so, you could be missing out on the best free marketing tool in history.

From its beginnings as a glorified pick-up site for US college kids, Facebook has morphed into a massive FREE online marketing phenomenon which is perfect for visual-based businesses like photography.

In their latest guest blog post the photo management and Canon Project1709 experts at Photoventure explain why Twitter, Pinterest and other services can help grow your photography business.

DON’T MISS: Discover how Canon’s free Project1709 platform can simplify your photo management

5 ways to grow your photographic business on social media

1. Do the business on Facebook

Photography has become a tough business, and even formerly profitable niches such as weddings and portraits are suffering from falling rates and a glut of competitors/wannabes with cameras and gear just as good as yours.

By setting up a Facebook business page or Twitter feed you can start to advertise your unique selling points more effectively and start to engage more with current and potential customers.

SEE MORE: The 10 worst mistakes every photographer makes on social media (and how to avoid them)

It’s better to set up a Facebook business page in the settings as it’s easier to get a bespoke address, such as

Keep your personal and business Facebook sites separate, too — unless you want customers to see you getting wrecked on holiday, that is…


10 camera settings you don’t use (but probably should)
55 reasons your photos aren’t working (and what you can do about it)
8 bad photography habits (and how to fix them)
6 ways professional photographers use their cameras
Scott Kelby – the secret to growing a loyal legion of followers

[syndicated from Digital Camera World]

Abstract images: how to make striking contemporary art with your camera

In this quick tutorial we’ll show you how to use your camera to make striking abstract images that bring out your inner Rothko…

Abstract images: how to make striking contemporary art with your camera

All images and text by Ben Brain

Apart from anything else, making abstract images is the perfect photography project that can easily be done in the comfort of your home.

More importantly, it can be a wonderful way to create striking and unusual images that may even challenge what you think a photograph should be.

It’s hard to imagine when you look at the abstract images above, but they are more or less straight out of the camera, with very little post-processing.

Abstract images: how to make striking contemporary art with your camera

Using nothing more than some basic in-camera skills such as a multiple exposure and deliberate blur, we’ve been able to strip our image of anything recognisable and instead concentrate on contrast, form, colour, tone and texture contained within.

Working in a purely abstract way takes a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve liberated yourself from a conventional way of thinking and seeing, you’ll soon find it addictive.

SEE MORE: In-camera multiple exposure – a quick and easy guide

Abstract images: how to make striking contemporary art with your camera

There are plenty of great abstracts to be found when you’re out and about too, so there’s no need to limit yourself to coloured card and Perspex…

How to make simple abstract images

How to make simple abstract images: step 1

01 Compose your shot
Source coloured card, paper, plastics or coloured sheets of Perspex. If you’re using Perspex, place the sheets on a light-box. Try complementary or drastically contrasting colours for added impact. Arrange them randomly at first, and just get started.

SEE MORE: Color Theory – the best color combinations for photography (and how to take it further)

How to make simple abstract images: step 2

02 Take exposures
Set your camera to shoot multiple-exposure, and take several shots on top of one another. If your camera doesn’t have this feature, it’s easy to merge them together in Photoshop. Experiment with focus: there’s no reason why the images need to be sharp.


How to make simple abstract images: step 3

03 Add vibrancy
Shoot raw files for maximum quality and use Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom to boost the intensity of the colours, contrast and tones. Despite the vibrant colours in these images, there’s little post-production beyond a few tweaks.


Color photography explained: simple tips for making your brightest-ever images
Clashing colors: when they work and when they don’t
Frame within a frame: composition tricks for adding depth and context
Fantasy landscape tutorial: how to seamlessly blend images into a dramatic montage

[syndicated from Digital Camera World]