Porträts richtig belichten – so geht es!

Expose portraits correctly - this is how it works!

Every photographer has probably tried his hand at the classic portrait at one time or another. It quickly becomes apparent that it is not just the correct composition that ultimately determines the expression of the final image. In portrait photography in particular, it is particularly important to expose the images correctly. This not only means the intensity of the light, but also other factors that decide whether the intended statement was made with the final portrait or not.
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At the classic portrait every photographer has probably tried it at one time or another. It quickly becomes apparent that it is not just the correct composition that ultimately determines the expression of the final image. Especially at that portrait photography it is particularly important to expose the images correctly. So that's not just that intensity of the light meant, but also other factors that decide whether the intended statement with the final portrait was hit or not.

In most cases, creating portraits comes with one of these three light setups for use:

  • Outdoor photography (on location) with natural light and therefore without artificial light
  • Photographing in the studio under controlled conditions and the exclusive use of artificial light
  • Taking pictures with one Combination of artificial light and the already existing natural ambient light

This division into three categories is only a rough classification, after all more combinations conceivable. Light setups in which, for example, an artificial light source is used on location as an auxiliary light to brighten the shadows are quite conceivable and are currently very popular with portraits.

The properties of light what makes good lights?

Light is not always the same, most photographers can tell you a thing or two. To the properties of light To be able to discuss portraits in more detail, these are divided into four categories below:

  • the intensity of the light
  • the Quality of the light
  • the Color of the light
  • the shape the illumination

If photographers mentally divide them into these four categories before setting up the lights, it will be easier for them to adapt the light to the situation and the model afterwards.

With the intensity of the light is its strength meant. This is probably the easiest property to customize. A external exposure meter proves to be a great advantage, especially in flash photography. If you deliberately work with too little or too much light, photographers speak of the High or low key photography .

With regard to the quality of light photographers have to develop a certain instinct. Photographers exercise influence on the quality by means of the distance of the light source to the model and with suitable light shapers out of. soft light , which has a particularly gentle and romantic effect, can be achieved by creative people by using the light sourcelight shaper enlarged as much as possible and positioned close to the model. je smaller the light source , the harder the light shines and the sharper the contours and the contrasts of the shadows on the face.

Another important feature is that color of light . This is of enormous importance in portraits, as it decides whether the image and the skin tones look natural or not. In order to achieve consistent results, it is recommended that the white balance set the camera manually. A gray card placed in the image facilitates the later one digital post-processing clear and enables one uniform look with natural skin tones.

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Both forms of illumination is the most complex issue of proper lighting in portraits. In short, these are the correct positioning the light sources used. Many people today refer to certain classic structures as portrait lights because they have been characterized by the effects to be achieved for decades.

A closer look at the portrait lights

Many of the best portraits of all time have been with a single light source created and there is nothing to be said against photographers striving for this simple, but nonetheless effective lighting method decide. However, it is also a fact that more interesting effects can often be achieved with several lights. Especially when the eyes, the contours, the plasticity or the hair of a person should be emphasized, it makes sense to use multiple light sources to work. Up to ten artificial light sources are not uncommon in a professional context.

A distinction is made between Main or guide light and the fill or fill light . If only one light source is used, then, for example, reflectors for brightening. These lights are complemented by the Hair light, background light and effect light . In principle, there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to light construction.

Known light setups in portrait photography

It was already touched on above that it determined light structures exist, which have always been used with great success. If there is little time or photographers on a reliable setup If you want to fall back on these structures, these are a good choice in most cases:

In principle, it must always be ensured that the exposure from above he follows. The viewer is at the sun as a light source used to, light from below is therefore more effective unnatural and sometimes even a bit scary.

Belichtung von Porträts

The right exposure summarized and an important tip

The position, the brightness , the Quality and the color temperature are the crucial elements in the exposure of portraits . Anyone who masters this should also observe another important tip: First light reflections in the eyes bring them to life and make them Focus and most important element of the portrait.

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