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.