Composing Powerful Portraits with Natural Light Photography

Expose the beauty of natural light photography with Lensbaby's double glass optic from Portland photographer Destiny Lane.

Many photographers prefer working with natural light photography techniques. Most would shy away from a harsher, midday sun, but Lensbaby optics can often be fairly forgiving in harsher lighting situations by smoothing out and melting away hot spots. Portland Photographer Destiny Lane talks about how she uses the Composer Pro with Double Glass Optic to create compelling portraits with natural, midday light.

What I Used

  1. Lensbaby Composer Pro
  2. Double Glass Optic
  3. High noon sun
  4. Metadata: ISO 100 - Shutter Speed 1/400 - Aperture 5.6

How It Came Together

  1. I really like contrasting colors, so the red dress was perfect for the summer greenery of Sauvie Island. I knew there would be an overwhelming amount of space to work with, and most of it looked the same, so I used the Double Glass Optic to draw attention to my subject and to soften the rest of the image.
  2. I had my aperture set at 5.6 because it's perfect for close or mid-range portraits in cloudy or sunny conditions. Its depth of field is just right for the subject to be totally in focus, and still shallow enough that you'll get blurring in the background and in the foreground.
  3. I was pretty close to the subject, squatting on the ground in front of her allowing for the tall grasses to enter the frame from the side and the bottom, placing the girl within the left third of the image just where the sky opens up to draw focus to her face.
  4. I tilted the Composer Pro left, and then upward to grab focus on her head and upper body. I wanted her to be in focus, and absolutely nothing else. With the aperture set at 5.6, I was able to do just that, blurring the grasses that were in the line of focus, but too close to the camera to be sharp, and allowing the blue sky far behind her to blur into the trees.
  5. It is always hard to photograph people with natural expression. Little girls always want to smile for the camera, so I thought I'd try a different approach. I got in position on the ground to frame my shot, then asked her to walk along the grass, only to gaze at the camera when I called her name. It worked out perfectly.
  6. I played with the tone and saturation in Photoshop to achieve the final color of this image.

See more Lensbaby portraits here and discuss natural light photography techniques in our all-new Lensbaby University.

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