The addition of reflective surfaces can turn flat outdoor portraits into one images that burst with life and impact. With this in mind, we headed out in (rare) bright conditions to try out office block windows, modern mirrored sculptures and water features with our model for the day, Stina.
We captured some fantastic reflections in our outdoor portraits of Stina, giving flattering results and vibrant colours. And the beauty of this is that all of this is possible on the streets of your nearest town or city center. So get out there!
Finding mirrored objects
You can find reflective surfaces for your outdoor portraits in a surprising number of places. From shop windows to puddles to local landmarks, there is so much to choose from.
An obvious choice for us on our day out shooting a reflective portrait in Bristol was this giant mirror ball at the At-Bristol complex. By getting Stina to strike a quirky pose and positioning her so that the strong, bright sunshine was coming in from the side, her vibrant red coat draws the eye to the centre of the frame.
The reflection is small enough to add interest but doesn’t distract from the main pose.
Large glass areas
We came across this huge expanse of glass that was perfect for full-length portraits. Stina’s contact with the glass has filled the frame and, by using the 70-200mm at f/2.8, we managed to throw the background out of focus but still allow the reflective surface to shine through.
Overexposing slightly – by 1/3 of a stop – has brightened up the shot (learn more with our guide that answers What is exposure compensation?).
Shooting in the shade
By positioning Stina next to a restaurant window in a shaded walkway, a very flattering diffused light appears. With the light coming from behind us, she was looking into the brightness.
We had to increase the ISO to 1250, as the walkway was lacking light (for more, see our in-depth guide to ISO and when to increase sensitivity).
To get a perfect exposure of Stina’s face, we used spot metering to get a reading from this area (learn when to use spot metering).
Shooting in the shade has maintained the clean, fresh color of her jumper.
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