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Using Natural Light to Shoot Portraits {Open Shade}


The easiest way to use open shade with a garage to take flattering portrait with your cameraShooting Portraits With Open Shade

A Photography Tutorial on Natural Light

Using natural light to shoot portraits in open shade is a fantastic way to get beautifully lit subjects. There are many different ways to use natural light to achieve different results. In this video tutorial, I explain how I use “Open Shade” to shoot photos. You can watch below now or keep reading for more explanation!

You’ll notice that the subject is placed in completely solid shade, but that there is a natural light source directly in front. You will shoot from the area that is lit, while the subject will stay completely shaded. Garages are a great example of where to find open shade, but there are other spots too!

Locations with Open Shade

  • Garages
  • Sides of Building
  • Awnings
  • Ramadas
  • Mountains
  • Cave Entrances
  • Forest entrances (be careful of spotting shade here)

Here are two examples of how I shot in this type of natural light. You will notice that in the first photo, she is completely facing forward and the light source covers her face. There are not many shadows. This makes her appear lit up and gives great catch lights in her eyes. In the second shot, all I did was move her to the side. Here, half of her body was facing the light, while the other half was not. This gives a more dramatic look to the portrait, with some contrast in the face. There are also great catch lights here!

It’s super easy. Give it a try a let me know how it comes out! You can even post an example of your work in my Learn and Inspire Group for Photographers so I can see how you did!

Two ways to use open shade to achieve different results in portraits

Thanks for reading! You can check out more FREE tutorials on my YouTube channel. Let me know what kind of light you like shoot in the best!

Leave me a comment below and tell me!

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  • MichelleApril 21, 2021 - 12:46 pm

    How did you get that much blur with all that behind her. Thanks for the visual demonstration I enjoyed watching. ReplyCancel

  • pamalaFebruary 22, 2018 - 11:46 am

    What’s your favorite lens that you use for taking portraitsReplyCancel

  • SharonNovember 14, 2017 - 2:50 pm

    stunning results with so little effort!  I’ll be taking notes!!!ReplyCancel

  • Donna GeorgeJanuary 24, 2017 - 6:09 pm

    Hi there…..what settings did you use. Do you shoot Manual.ReplyCancel

  • DeborahOctober 28, 2016 - 3:39 pm

    What kind of Camera and Lens are you using? Beautiful images. Did you edit them any?ReplyCancel

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