The Canon 600d is equipped with a medium-size APS-C sensor that allows a fine balance between portability and image quality, providing a wider dynamic range, color depth, and greater control of depth-of-field. It’s a great camera for your portrait photography.
The Canon 600d can take excellent classic portraiture shots against a blurred backdrop. Portrait photography is about capturing an image of your subject’s personality and deep-lying story as much as it is about just capturing their face.
An engaging portrait is never about the technicalities. Instead, it’s about the creative art of lightning, background, unordinary angles, the element of overexposure, and taking a shot at the right height.
When a portrait of a girl named O-o-dee appeared, taken in 1894, what fascinated people wasn’t the quality of the shot as much as what it expressed. She can be seen smiling. This minute detail added character to the portrait.
You need to be creative to capture that character. A camera lets you just “point and shoot,” but this often limits your creativity. So what we’re going to focus on are the ways you can bring out the character in your portraits, not just the face.
Working With Lighting
Facial shadows add life to your photography. If missing, a portrait will look dull and flat. To capture those shadow you want light that is directed from the front with a high energy beam. You should combine that with an umbrella light to soften the features, and that can be used with both natural sunlight and other sources.
With an umbrella, you’re inviting life to the subject’s face. You’re adding shadows, but not harsh edges. You’re creating depth. The umbrella works by diffusing the light into a much softer light. You can also use a softbox if you’re doing flash shots to get the same result.
There are three types of umbrellas, and which one you’re going to use will depend on the quality of light and how far your subject is located:
1) A shoot-through-umbrella, for instance, is suited for a versatile photographer. It provides a softer and broader light. In practice, it can be employed for a closer shot of both a group or an individual subject, since it spreads the light about 180 degrees. The downside though is that it offers a lower light power.
2) A reflective umbrella is used to shoot a portrait of a group or a product, because of its adaptive capacity to shoot from a larger distance. Generally, you’ll often use two or more reflective umbrellas. These will direct the light and multiply its power, so it will really bring your subject into strong focus. These are generally not used for taking portraits of an individual, because the harsh lighting isn’t too flattering.
3) A convertible umbrella is perfect for the new photographer. Like a shoot-through-umbrella, it’s highly adaptive. It comes with a black cover which when removed converts it into a shoot-through-umbrella. In its original form, it creates a softer light than when converted.
How To Deal With Background
The background is as important as the subject. You need to make sure it supports the subject and the shot you’re trying to take.
1) A poorly lit background can attract eyes away from the subject by making them out of focus. You want their eyes pointed towards the lens and the background dim to help create more ‘pop’ with the outline of their face.
2) The background can set the mood for your portrait. We recommend a 70 mm focal length or above for a ‘moodier’ shot.
3) Speaking of moody shots, soft backgrounds are better suited to capturing an expressive, moody portrait. Similarly, if you’re looking to capture a close up shot, you use a blurred background. In outdoor photography, a blurred or soft background will sharply reflect your subject’s facial expression. The canon 600d provides an excellent depth of field effect to that end. You can lower the f-stop to get a well-tuned blurred portrait. Try using f/stop on your canon 600d by holding the Av button and turning the main dial to the left to achieve a larger aperture.
4) For a more creative shot, you can use a more detailed, natural background. It could be of a landscape, for instance, which can add a level of richness to your photography. You really want to fine-tune the level of focus and depth of field here though to keep the focus on your subject, while not completely washing out the background.
5) You can use a white background, for stock and product photography. It’s also an excellent choice for headshot photography.
6) A black background can also be a well-selected choice if you’re looking for a professional portrait. Here you’d want to go with low lighting to create a more impressive effect.
Height In Portrait Photography
Whether you’re looking to take a head-and-shoulders portrait or a full-length shot, you need to consider the camera’s height. For a head-and-shoulders portrait, you should position the camera around nose height. You can place your camera midway between the top and bottom of the person’s body for longer views. Here, the idea is to minimize the distortions of your subject’s features.
1) Eye contact is a big deal in portrait photography. Your camera should be at the tip of the subject’s nose so that the eyes naturally fall towards the lens.
2) To create a more dramatic photograph, consider taking a shot from a low angle. This will minimize the background, but the sky (or whatever overhead background you have) will appear open. Similarly, you can consider taking a shot from above, which will maximize your background, if you’re looking for a detailed background shot. Both angles express something different about your subject though, so you want to keep in mind the story you’re telling with your shot before choosing one or the other.
3) Sometimes you want to manipulate the physical features of your subject a bit. For example, taking a picture from above will increase the head-and-shoulder size relative to the lower body, while the hips and legs will appear slimmer. Lowering your height will reduce the head’s size while increasing the size of the legs and thighs. There’s no right or wrong here, but you need to consider that every change in angle also changes the composition of the shot.
Overexposure shots are basically brightly lit portraits. It can be taken in natural light or through an artificial light source. It can subtly hide details such as aging and skin imperfections because of a reduction of shadowing. But, you do compromise texture and skin tone.
1) The Canon 600d comes with a powerful built-in flash to do the job for you. You can really jack up the contrast of your overexposure shots by combining it with large softboxes and umbrellas. If you’re considering outdoor photography, you can also use the canon 600d’s flash for that purpose.
2) This technique can hide skin blemishes, wrinkles, and other imperfections, but it comes at the cost of fine details that can infuse your portrait with life. It works best with black and white colors.
3) You can add overexposure to your photographs even when they’re taken in underexposure. You will notice a slight difference, but nothing too significant. However, you can’t change an overexposed portrait to underexposed one in digital photography, so going a bit under leaves both options open post-processing.
4) Shutter speed, aperture, and ISO make up the exposure triangle. If you want overexposure portraits, just adjust your ISO to around 100 to 200. A lower f/stop (aperture) means there’s a higher chance of overexposure. You can increase if you need more exposure. Shutter speed should be raised from 1/200th to 1/600th to support it though. An exposure triangle is interdependent. An increase will affect another. So be careful when making adjustments.
Art Of Angles
Tilt your canon 600d to get a unique shot, because it’s compact size is perfectly tuned for working with different angles free-handed. Angles can open you to new ideas. Commonly, shots are taken at the eye level to make your subject’s eyes a focus, which is the natural way we see each other. But, by adopting different angles, you can make your work stand out. Angles are the best way of expressing visual language and for creating psychological effects.
1) You can use low-angles to give a powerful look to your subject. You’ll position your canon 600d below the subject. It is commonly used to capture buildings and to produce threatening body language. E.g., Close order military formation in a climax scene.
2) A wide-range angle can be used to get a portrait with exaggerated body size. For example, a cross-armed subject expresses defiance when set against a larger backdrop.
3) If you want to create a submissive effect, you can employ a high shot. The camera is positioned above to capture the subject in this technique. To produce unease in your viewer’s eyes and, at the same time, a dramatic effect, you can use a slanted or Dutch tilt angle.
4) Worm eye’s angle is taken from below, in which the elements of the portrait look larger than usual providing a feeling of vulnerability to your viewer.