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Photography Basics: Window-light Portraits

Among the most flattering way to light people, window lit portraits require indirect sunlight. The best indirect light can be achieved using a North facing window. Remove anything distracting in the background, or hang a dark backdrop far enough behind the subject to prevent capturing its texture. Shutter speeds will likely be too long to handhold.

Every window has a sweet spot. Experiment with subject position relative to the window until light falls flatteringly on the face. Sometimes the best position is with the head slightly beyond or outsdie the window jamb, putting the window side ear in the shadow. With larger panes, the light can come from too high an angle, casting shadows from the nose, cheek, and chin. To avoid this, move the subject deeper into the room or pull down the shade to baffle the top light.

Now, build the pose. To put your subject's chest in shadow and highlight the face, place his back toward the window and shoulds angled to the glass. Then turn the head towards the light. Use a small reflector opposite the window and near the subject to fill the shadowed side of the face.

Start by capturing the full face, the try a variety of 3/4 views. For profiles, swing the shoulders parallel to the window.

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