Home Photography Ideas: Fake portraits in natural light with flash

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While it’s so easy to place your flash on your camera hot shoe and take pictures, the results often seem unflattering and it’s easy to tell they weren’t taken in natural light. However, we’ll show you how to mimic natural light with an artificial flash.

The easiest way to do this is to take an existing natural light source, such as a window or door, and control the light through that space. By placing a flash outside of said window or door, you can mimic the effect of natural light flooding your shooting area. Diffuse it with a simple bed sheet and it can produce one of the best lights – no need for an expensive octabox.

• Have more photo shoot ideas

(Image credit: Avenir)

You can do this shot with things you already own, so why not have a family member pose for you while they work hard with a task for natural portraits.

False portrait in natural light with flash

(Image credit: Avenir)

Tuck in your sheets

Secure your sheet to a window or door. If there is something to clip your sheet onto, use DIY clips to hold it in place, otherwise use your duct tape. Even with clips, you might find that you have to stick it with the duct tape to keep it from flying off.

(Image credit: Avenir)

Bring the light

Place your flash on a stand on the other side of the sheet from your subject and set it to full power. Place it about a yard apart, pointing towards the middle of the leaf. Set the flash to manual mode if you have TTL capabilities, and if it has a zoom function, set it to the widest setting.

(Image credit: Avenir)

Preparation work

To maximize the brightness of the light and the “enveloping” effect it produces, place your model near the sheet. The further away they are from the light source, the darker the scene will be. This will force you to increase your ISO, which can introduce noise.

(Image credit: Avenir)

Sculpt parameters

Set your camera to manual mode for full control. Choose auto or flash white balance and take pictures in RAW – that way you can change the white balance later if you need to. Set the aperture as wide as possible (f / 2.8 in our case), and a shutter speed of 1/200 sec with ISO100.

(Image credit: Avenir)

Emboss the lines

If your images are overexposed, but you don’t want to change your settings, you can use a neutral density filter to block some of the light entering the lens. A variable ND filter will allow you to adjust the darkness until you get well-balanced exposures every time.

(Image credit: Avenir)

Remove the detail

Shoot with a zoom lens like a 70-200mm. Bring it to 70mm to bring the whole model in, then push it further up to 200mm for detail on the hands if your model is posing with intricate parts.

Read more

• Best Flash in 2020: Best Strobe Units for Canon, Nikon and More Cameras
• Best camera for beginners in 2020: start your journey with the right camera!
• Best variable ND filters: fader filters for video and photography
• Newborn photography tips


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