It’s so tricky when we want to take a photo while doing outdoor activities. Following on from a photo shoot yesterday afternoon I got thinking about some of the techniques I use when shooting portraits outdoors and thought it might be useful to write them here on the blog. So, here’s a list of 5 tips/techniques for shooting Portraits in the Great Outdoors that I generally will consider on every photo shoot:

1. Match the Light: If you find yourself photographing on a day as I did recently when there’s very little cloud cover and the sun is doing it’s best to nuke your subjects, to match the natural lighting that will be contrasty with very defined hard light/shadows you may consider using bare bulb and no light softening modifiers if everything is to look natural. On the flip side of that, if you’re photographing and using off camera lighting on an overcast day with lots of soft natural/ambient light then you’ll want to match that lighting on your subject/s so you my consider using a modifier such as a Large Softbox or Umbrella:

2. Use Free Softboxes: All around us there are natural softboxes. For example position your subject in the recess of a doorway so that the doorway opening itself becomes the light source ie a large light source with the light falling onto your subject from one direction

3. Make use of Reflectors: When I’m taking photos using natural light I’ll always have with me a reflector or two. My reflector of choice at the moment is the California Sunbounce Mini because of the quality of light it produces, the build quality and being so lightweight, however any reflector is better than none at all. The main thing to remember when using reflectors is that you’re using them to redirect some of the sun’s light back onto your subject so how and where you position it is very important when it comes to producing a realistic look.

Too low down and you’ll be reflecting light under your subjects chin which will look artificial, so look at positioning it so that the light is reflected slightly down on to your subject. In addition to this, for outdoor shots I’ll nearly always use the gold reflector which gives a lovely warm reflected light onto the subject.

4. Shoot later in the day: Do you really need to be shooting in the middle of the day when the sun’s at it’s strongest? Sure you can manage this no problem with top of the range lighting such as Profoto or Elinchrom but not everyone can afford that kind of equipment. The solution…shoot later in the day when your small battery operated strobes will have no problem overpowering the sun. This time of year if I’m shooting using small strobes like my Nikon SB800′s I’ll make a point of shooting no earlier than about 5pm; that way I can control the ambient light using apertures of no more than say f/11 which the SB800′s can comfortably cope with.

Another advantage of shooting later in the day is that what was once possibly a stark cloudless sky, later in the afternoon/early evening when the temperature drops a few degrees you’ll likely start to see more cloud formation.

5. Move Around: Ok so maybe this one is relevant for any shoot, be it indoors our outdoors but move around your subject or take the same shot using different lenses eg a 24-70mm to take in more of the environment, and then maybe a 70-200mm to take a tighter shot:

So what tips would you add to this list? What tips could you share with others that help you with your outdoor photography?

Of course this is not an exhaustive list of tips for shooting portraits outdoors so it would be great to ‘hear’ any that you would add to the list, so please feel free to make use of the comments section below.


My Lovely Nikon Coolpix AW110 Rugged Camera

Nikon Coolpix AW110 Rugged CameraNikon have introduced the Nikon Coolpix AW110 as a rival to other cameras in the increasingly popular rugged and waterproof compact digital camera niche for outdoor adventurers. This camera can withstand drops on to a hard surface from 5ft also the shockproof capable of operating in temperatures down to 14F, It is waterproof to 33ft, you can share photo instantly with built-in wifi feature. Nothing remarkable here as these are accepted standards for this type of camera, however the AW110 can withstand immersion to greater depths than many of its rivals.

The wide-angle lens offers 5x zoom and when you find an interesting insect the macro mode can focus at a distance of less than half an inch away for stunning close up shots. To keep your picture nice and sharp the camera has lens shift vibration reduction rather than the more common digital sensor shift vibration reduction. Combined with the high ISO3200 setting and the built-in Best Shot Selection function ensures your pictures will be as sharp as possible.

Programmed with nineteen scene moods the camera has a mode for every occasion and will ensure that your pictures will be as great as possible. Choose from Dawn/Dusk, Pet Portrait, Fireworks, Night Portrait and Party/Indoor to name just a few. For your outdoor adventurers, the people the camera is really aimed at, there are Beach, Panorama, Sports and Underwater modes where the camera settings will at their optimum to capture those once only moments.

Just look the destruction test 🙂

For those movies of you rafting down a river or watching your friends speeding past on their mountain bikes the Nikon AW100 produces HD 1080i video which you can plug straight into a HDTV to watch and enjoy. The playback can be speeded up to search for those special moments and then be slowed down to enjoy them in detail. Most of the other rugged cameras produce only 720p HD video although two other higher specification rugged cameras have HD 1080i video as well.

The Nikon Coolpix AW100 comes with built-in ecompass and also GPS with an internal map display on which you can record your position when the photos were taken. After you have uploaded the photos to your computer you can retrace your route using Nikon’s ViewNX2 software or share them on Nikon’s website or Google Earth. The AW110 will track your movements and location even when the camera is not in use so that your whole adventure and route can be viewed.

With the built-in Action Control you can operate the camera with one hand, even when wearing a thick glove or under water. Different hand movements can be pre-defined for different camera actions and the control can be activated via a dedicated button on the side of the camera. Presently available in three colors in the US, orange, black and blue.

For those people who lead an active outdoors lifestyle, whether you are sailing, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking or a whole host of similar pursuits the Nikon Coolpix AW110 has been designed to meet your needs, both in its ability to resist harsh environments and to take good quality photos.

The Nikon Coolpix AW110 is the latest addition to the range of rugged and waterproof compact digital cameras to be reviewed at my waterproof camera review website.