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Cheat Sheet

Digital Portrait Photography For Dummies

Digital portrait photography is not rocket science. Capturing a person’s likeness and essence in the same photograph may sound like a daunting task, but it really isn’t if you practice often and use the right settings. Take care of your equipment and make backups of all your images and you’ll go far. And afterwards, it’s easy to make improvements to your images with Photoshop Elements. In fact, when you practice portrait photography and start getting some great shots, portrait photography is an incredible amount of fun.

Portrait Photography Settings in a Nutshell

Portrait photography isn’t rocket science, but there is a definite methodology to taking great portraits. When in doubt, here are some settings that you can use for taking great portraits; just add a photogenic subject:

  • Camera Mode: Choose Portrait mode, or Aperture Priority mode.

  • Aperture: Choose the largest aperture (lowest f/stop value) available to create a limited depth of field. If you’re working in dim lighting conditions, you may have to increase the ISO to shoot at a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera blur.

  • Focal Length: Choose a focal length that is the 35 mm equivalent of 85mm or greater.

  • ISO Setting: Choose the lowest ISO setting possible for the available light.

  • Flash: Use on camera flash as fill flash only. If you use camera flash as your main lighting source, use an auxiliary flash with a light modifier to create a softer light.

Photoshop Elements Reference

Photoshop Elements can seem rather daunting the first few times you use it. If you’re a newbie to Elements, or you just like nearby reference material, print out this Cheat Sheet and park it by your computer.

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Digital Photography After-Shoot Checklist

There are certain things you should do after every photo shoot, especially if you’ve changed any camera settings. Here’s a checklist you can keep in your camera bag:

  • Download all images to your computer.

  • Backup your images to an external hard drive.

  • Reformat your cards in the camera after you’ve backed up your photo shoot.

  • Change the ISO setting back to its lowest value.

  • Change the white balance back to its auto setting.

  • Recharge your battery if it’s very low.

  • Set exposure compensation back to zero.

  • Change the metering method to Evaluative or Matrix (depending on your camera model).

  • Clean your lenses with a soft brush and microfiber cloth.

  • Clean your camera body with a soft cloth and NO solvents. If the camera has been used in an environment with salty air, dampen a soft cloth and wring it almost dry, then gently rub it over the camera body and lens barrel.

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