Technical Skills

There are hundreds of choices to make when taking a portrait, even once you’ve selected a model and a location. Although this may seem daunting, it provides a creative difference between images taken by two photographers, even if they are shooting the same person in the same place, with the same kit.

For example, cameras can’t process the full range of light and dark tones in a high contrast scene, so you’ll need to decide which tones you want to expose for. This will determine the look and feel of the image, and whether detail is captured or lost in different areas. Understanding the technical limitations of the camera prepares you for these decisions and enables you to begin predicting how the camera will record different scenes. Once you learn how the settings interplay, you can adjust them to achieve a specific outcome.

Don’t shy away from manual mode. Although it will slow you down at first, it’s the best way to understand how the aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings combine to affect the final exposure. With sufficient practice, all the detail in this module will quickly become second nature and you’ll be able to accurately guess which settings will achieve your desired result in a range of situations.

Foundations: The Exposure Triangle

Foundations: The Exposure Triangle

Exposure is the technical term for the creation of a photographic image. An exposure can be deemed underexposed, correctly exposed ...
Foundations: Aperture, The Pupil Of Your Camera's Eye

Foundations: Aperture, The Pupil Of Your Camera’s Eye

The aperture is like the pupil in a human eye – it’s the hole in the lens which permits light ...
Foundations: Shutter Speed, Your Camera's Eyelid

Foundations: Shutter Speed, Your Camera’s Eyelid

If the aperture is like the pupil in a human eye, then the camera’s shutter is like an eyelid – ...
Foundations: ISO, Adjusting Your Camera's Sensitivity To Light

Foundations: ISO, Adjusting Your Camera’s Sensitivity To Light

The ISO setting affects how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to the light that falls on it. It is the ...
Foundations: Metering Modes, Getting Your Exposure Right

Foundations: Metering Modes, Getting Your Exposure Right

Whenever your camera isn’t in full manual mode, it measures the amount of light reflected from the scene (a process ...
Foundations: Shooting Modes; Automatic, Semi-Automatic and Manual

Foundations: Shooting Modes; Automatic, Semi-Automatic and Manual

The range of modes and settings can seem daunting at first. The best - and quickest - way to become ...
Foundations: Focusing, Making The Right Thing Sharp

Foundations: Focusing, Making The Right Thing Sharp

In the majority of portraiture, the subject's eyes are the main focus of the shot, and it's therefore important to ...