Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. In this video we’re going to teach you the camera settings and the lens choice for creating an interesting studio portrait. People ask me all the time, “What camera settings should I use?” We’re going to talk about those camera settings, exactly where to set your camera, exactly what lens to use. Then we’re going to light this portrait, and I’m going to show you exactly how to pose your model. And that’s going to give us a beautiful image.
Special thanks to SAAL Digital who’s sponsoring this video, who’s going to give Chanda a beautiful print when we are done. So we look forward to seeing that. So let’s get started.
Let’s start with the lens, then we’ll get to the camera settings. The lens that I choose most of the time when I’m doing a studio portrait like this is an 85 millimeter. I’ve got the 35-150mm Tamron here. And I’m going to set that on 85 millimeters. (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the 85, 85 millimeters.) The reason I choose an 85 millimeter is because it’s a great compression on the face. The face doesn’t get too wide. It doesn’t get too flattened. It’s just a great compression. And it allows me to not have to get back too far. If you’re in a confined space doing a studio portrait & you don’t have all kinds of room, then that 85 allows you to get in close enough to be able to give you a nice portrait. And you don’t have to back way, way up. But most importantly, let’s look at the compression really fast.
So first off, here’s our 85 millimeter. Now I’m going to go to 35 millimeter or 50 millimeters. And I’m going to keep her head the same size in the frame, roughly. Look at that 50 millimeter. What happens to my background? I start looking down into the floor because I want to be slightly above her eyes.So each one of these positions, the 85 millimeter, I’m slightly above her eyes. To stay slightly above her eyes I’m now looking into the floor when I get into that 50 millimeter lens. Look at what happens when I go to the 35mm and her face is going to be just starting to distort now. And I’m looking way down so her features are becoming more distorted. It’s not near as pleasing.
I could go to a 200 millimeter lens. But the problem of going with a 200 millimeter lens is I’m going to have to be so far away from her. Then in a studio situation you have to have a pretty big space. And I also feel like it starts to flatten out the face too much. It’s not near as pleasing. So I choose an 85 millimeter. Another great lens that I’ve used for years is a 90mm or a 100 millimeter macro lens. Tamron makes a 90 millimeter EF macro lens I used for years when shooting Canon EF or a 100 millimeter macro. You can get those, most of the brands will give you a 100 millimeter macro, which is a great portrait lens. Usually they’re f/2.8, which gives you enough shallow depth of field. We’re going to talk about camera settings coming right up. So there’s my favorite lens, 85mm or that 90 to 100 millimeter macro.
The last thing that really is important to mention about lens is, the longer the lens, the smaller the background, we’ve got a huge background up here. Generally speaking, we’re shooting on something that’s a seven foot seamless, it’s a small drop. And to have a background this big is just a luxury. Well, the wider your lens, the larger the background has to be to be able to stay on the background in the front sweeping or on the sides. So a longer lens allows you to have a smaller background and allows you to get the person further away from the background so that you can take advantage of lighting those two separately. That’s really important as well. And we’ll talk about that as we get to our lighting. All right, so there’s the lens choice, 85 millimeter 90mm or 100mm. That’s my choice.
Alright, let’s talk about camera settings. Now that we have our lens, we know exactly what lens we’re going to shoot on. Now we need to know how to set up our camera. First off, I’m going to set my camera white balance at 5600 degrees or flash. Flash is slightly cooler, but 5600 degrees, I like the look of 5600 degrees. So that’s where I’m going to set my camera, 5600 degrees. Then I’m going to set my ISO at 100 ISO. I choose 100 ISO because we’re in studio on stage here. We don’t have any need to go with a faster ISO. There’s just no reason for it. We have powerful strobes that are going to allow us to give us the light that we want. And that is going to give us a clean look on the sensor. As you push that ISO up higher and higher the sensor starts to become more noisy. It has digital noise and you have to recover it in Photoshop. And there’s just no reason to go through that process. 100 ISO is perfect in this situation. That’s what we’re going to choose, 5600 degrees, 100 ISO, let’s go on. Now, what’s our aperture?
Now let’s talk about the aperture. On a full frame camera, I generally will shoot at f/4.0 on an 85 millimeter lens. The reason I choose f/4.0 is because, on a full frame sensor, you have very little depth of field. At f/2.8 you can’t keep the eye and the nose in focus. And I don’t want the nose to fall way out of focus. So I’ll go to f/4.0. Now, if I was on an APS-C sensor, I can go to f/2.8, because it’s about equivalent as far as depth of field as f/4.0 on a full frame sensor. But the reason I want that is I want enough depth of field to be able to keep her face from her eye to pretty much her nose in focus. But I don’t want the background to go really heavy in focus. So I’m not going to go to f/8.0 or f/11. You know, which would make her entire face and head in focus. But it also makes the background so in focus. You want that background to fall out of focus. And have that nice, kind of creamy softness in the background, that really makes the portrait look wonderful. So for me, f/4.0. If I’m turning her and I want a front eye and a back eye in focus, I may go to f/5.6. But generally I’m going to use f/4.0, which is going to give me the best depth of field. Let’s quickly look at the focus difference between f/2.8. Then we’ll go to f/4.0, then f/5.6, then f/8.0. Let’s take a look at those one after the other. Look at that background, see what starts to happen. And you’ll see why it is I choose f/4.0. Stay right there. Go to f/4.0. So there’s a look at the different f-stops from f/2.8 to f/8.0. I use f/4.0. So for aperture, it’s f/4.0, f/4.0, f/4.0.
Stay tuned because posing is coming right up and what print service do you order when you order your print. But for now, let’s talk about the shutter.
The shutter just has to get out of the way. We’re in a dark room. We don’t have enough ambient in here to cause a problem. We actually have more ambient in here than you normally would have because we’ve got lights up to be able to shoot our video. Even with those lights up with a video at 1/160th of a second, we get no ambient light in the room at 100 ISO. So we’re going to set our shutter at 1/160th. And that becomes our shutter speed. Now on most cameras, you could go up to 1/250th of a second if there’s more ambient in the room in order to get rid of that ambient. But in our case, 1/160th was absolutely fine. I would guess in most cameras, I would do 1/200th of a second and that will give you the highest shutter speed, less amount of ambient light and give you complete control with your strobe. So our shutter is going to be 1/160th or 1/200th. There you go. 1/160, 1/160 we love 1/160, 1/160, 1/160th.
So it isn’t very often when we do shoots that we get to take them to a final print. But thanks to SAAL Digital, we get to make a print here for Chanda. And she’s chosen this Hahnemüle Museum Etching paper. Why did you choose that? Because it’s museum quality. And I love the texture. The texture is beautiful. It really is. It gives you great texture and also gives you a great color rendition. She’s choosing to have it in a metal frame. It’s called an anthracite. It’s a kind of a charcoal gray. And then it gives a great rendition that’s going to look nice in that darker print in the green colors. So there’s our final print. We’ll be delivering that to Chandra in the future. You’ll be able to see we make that delivery when that print comes.
Okay, let’s talk about posing. The first thing I do when I’m posing the model is I set the stool up so that the front where she’s going to maybe put her feet is aimed towards the light. Or I put a studio box down there so the model can put their feet on the studio box and it immediately orients them to the light. I do not (go ahead and sit down there Chanda), I don’t want her shoulders to be square to the camera. So if I turn that stool around, and I have the place where she’s going to put her feet on it, she’s going to square herself up straight to the camera, I don’t want that. I want her back shoulder to come away from us. And then she’ll turn her head in, and it’s going to give us much nicer lines on her body. So we turn her away from the camera. That’s the first thing we want to do. So let’s do a quick shot of that right there looking right in here. Here we go. That shoulder is back in the back. Very nice.
I’m going to want, even though she is centered in frame, remember, anything centered in the frame, I think makes a frame less interesting. Now, you may say to yourself, well there’s all kinds of famous images and great images that are centered. Yes, but generally speaking, they are going to give you just a little bit of turn. So her body is going to turn into the frame just a little bit. So the rule of thirds is going to allow her, maybe one eye is going to be up and her shoulder is down. We’ll start to get some balance. Her hands are up, her head is up, we can create balance between her head and her hands. So we want to start to create compositional experiences in that frame. It’s okay to push her to a little bit off the edge of the frame in that pose. So she can lean. As she leans, it gives more of that S shape to the body and becomes more dynamic. It looks more interesting. So we want to create that kind of dynamic pose. So even though she’s in the middle, we are really going to want to try to show interesting lines as we turn her in to the side and as we shoot. So let’s shoot some of these and let’s just talk about how she’s posing. So let’s shoot several images here and just look at this frame.
So first off, as she is standing here, if I just get her to turn her head slightly, I am now controlling that frame. Much better, push your left shoulder back just a little bit. There you go, right there. Look at how her eyes and we start to get a great S shape on her body, bringing her down just a little bit. That’s nice. Even though she’s straight in the middle of the frame, she is controlling this frame. Her body is moving through the frame and not just in one place. That really makes it more interesting. We can bring a hand up if we want to see what that looks like. And that hand now becomes a balance to her face. Chin down just a little bit for me, right there. I see the top of the hat right there, bring the hands out and drop them down. So let’s really push her towards the edge of the frame. So lean way into your left, more. Sorry to your camera left, just like that. Those hands together. Just soften them up just a little bit. There you go. Just maybe don’t bring it so… yeah, there you go. Because of the framing that we’re going to get when we make a print for her, we’re probably going to crop her hands, most of her hands out of the shots anyway. I think it’s fun always to do this. And that is I’m going to shoot a quick… I love horizontals because now I can push her over the one side of the frame. And I’ve got all that background on the side. I just think it looks so fabulous. So there’s a quick look at posing but stay tuned for our lighting breakdown.
So I love using a tripod just because it helps me to get everything kind of set in place. I’m using this Heipi tripod which we absolutely love here at The Slanted Lens. It was a great tripod platform. These traveled tripods, we carry them with us everywhere we go. At some point I’m going to want to come off this tripod because I don’t need to be on it. I’m shooting at 1/160th of a second and f/4.0 so I can move around. 85mm, I can start coming in really close.
So here’s my lighting setup for this. Very simple. I love this large octa-dome, the round large octa-dome from Westcott. It has a beautiful soft light. It’s got a soft baffle inside. It just gives me a beautiful wrapping light. But I put a grid on it and in order for that grid to just kind of keep a pool of light it does take away some of the softness of it. But it does give me a beautiful pool of light on her face. I love these Westcott soft boxes because they’re so fast to setup. Just push in there and pop them in and they’re ready to go. So that kind of quick setup is really nice.
The whole idea for this shot is to keep a nice green palette. We’ve got it in her suit, her jacket in her pants, and then we got the beautiful green hat. So we’re going to put some green on the background to be able to make those two tie together and give us that beautiful color palette. Always be working in a color palette. That strengthens the image and ties everything together. So we’re going to put that green on the background. It’s a 388, from Rosco. And let’s see that with our second light here. And there we go. So there’s our second light, nice.
And then last, we’re going to put a rim light right directly behind her. Straight behind her. It’s an FJ200. It’s smaller, it’s easy for me to hide back there. But it doesn’t have to be super powerful because it’s right on her. And it’s going to give me a great rim light from behind. Let’s turn that on. There we go.
Last light we’ll do… well if you call it light. But it is a light in a lot of ways. As we’ll just shove, this is $1.80 at the dollar store. We’re going to push this right in here. And it’s just going to open up all the shadows on her face. And I got it a little too close. Let’s keep you looking that way. Yeah, just like that. Let’s see here. That makes a huge difference. That fill card. Yeah, looking right in there for me. Right there Chanda. Just look back to me now. A little more. Right there. Right there. There we go.
So that’s our lighting setup. It’s very simple, soft box, light the green on the background, rim light from behind and then a fill card. Let’s take a look at the images.
Let’s straighten you back up just a little. All right there we go.
So look for more of these in this series. We’re going to talk about lens choice and camera settings for different types of photography. So if you have anything that you’d like to hear, leave us comment, send us a DM, we’d love to hear from you. So keep those cameras rollin’and keep on clickin’! You might want to leave a comment too. Leave a comment!