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In Your Face

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Story and photos by Richard van Ryneveld

I enjoy photographing people the most! There are a couple of simple tips that will help you get good portraits with even the simplest of cameras. It sounds so obvious, but the most important thing to remember is that the picture is about the subject, and what you want to say about them with your photograph.

• Focus on the eyes; they are everything in a good portrait.
• Move in closer. Often we want to show too much, and zooming in often gets you a better shot.
• Look at the pictures of people in magazines like National Geographic. Try to work out what light they used to take the picture you admire. (Many of their pictures are taken in natural light.)
• Try and avoid harsh light. Rather get your subject into the shade or into a doorway, for example, for softer, more flattering light.

For these examples, I chose pictures taken with natural light. As in all crafts, it takes practice to achieve better pictures. Have fun, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Light coming from a window is one of the most flattering portraiture lights. In this case, I let the light frame only the boy’s face. You have to expose carefully for a portrait like this; don’t overexpose the highlight on his face. Learn to read the histogram on your camera − there’s plenty of info on the internet about this, including YouTube videos. Just remember that, if you have blown out the highlights in digital, nothing on earth is going to bring them back. I spent time getting talking to the lad, and let him proudly show me around ‘his’ goats, which made it possible to take this photo as he was no longer self-conscious.
Nikon D3 with Nikon 17 – 35mm f2.8 lens 1/40th sec @ f6.3 ISO 800 Aperture Priority, Matrix Metering.

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