The perfect camera set-up for your home photo studio
There are no fixed rules for setting your camera up for studio portraiture, but there are settings that will ensure better quality shots. To begin with, a good tip is to choose the lowest ISO setting on your camera; this will keep digital noise to a minimum.
Next, set the White Balance to Flash to ensure punchy but accurate colours and tones (alternatively, find out how to use a color chart to set white balance for more accurate tones).
It’s best to shoot in Manual mode, as this enables you to specify both shutter speed and aperture, rather than relying on the camera to work it out for you.
Finally, shoot in RAW – even though you are using the on-screen histogram to read the exposure, it’s still possible to blow-out certain areas very slightly.
Shooting in RAW gives you the flexibility to use image-editing software, such as Photoshop, to rescue blown-out highlights – a common problem when shooting blonde models (for more on situations like this, check out our solutions to 99 common photography problems)!
Understanding flash sync
In simple terms, if you choose a shutter speed faster than that of the camera’s maximum flash sync speed, you’ll end up with a wide black band across your portrait. This band is the camera’s shutter curtain, captured as it closes on the exposure.
Obviously this is something you want to avoid, and you can do this by decreasing the shutter speed to within the camera’s flash sync speed setting. Most modern digital cameras have flash sync speeds of around 1/200 sec, and a few have speeds as high as 1/500 sec.
One of the most useful tools for any home studio is a wireless flash trigger, which you can use to fire your flash heads remotely. Simply fit the flash with a receiver, attach your trigger to the hotshoe on top of your camera, and now you can shoot without worrying about cables or pulling a flash-head over.
A large softbox is also recommended – this versatile piece of kit can be used to create a number of different and dramatic lighting effects. But don’t just plonk it in front of your model and fire away with it stuck in one position.
Take a few frames, then move it around, side to side and from high to low. You can even try placing the softbox to one side of your model to cast dramatic shadows across their face.
PAGE 1: Get the right exposure; Create dramatic lighting effects
PAGE 2: The perfect camera set-up; Using flash sync; Essential accessories
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