Shooting Portraits with a Canon EOS Rebel T1i/500D - dummies

Shooting Portraits with a Canon EOS Rebel T1i/500D

By Julie Adair King

Classic, timeless portraits have a sharply focused subject and a soft, blurry background. Follow these steps to take such a portrait with your Canon Digital Rebel.

1Set the Mode dial to Av (aperture-priority autoexposure).

Aperture-priority autoexposure is a good choice when depth of field is a primary concern because you can control the f-stop while relying on the camera to select the shutter speed that will properly expose the image.

2Using the Main dial, select the lowest f-stop value possible.

Dialing in a low f-stop value is the first step in softening your portrait background. Also keep in mind that the farther your subject is from the background, the more blurring you can achieve.

3To further soften the background, zoom in, get closer, or both.

Zooming in to a longer focal length reduces depth of field, as does moving physically closer to your subject. Avoid using a lens with a short focal length (a wide-angle lens) for portraits. They can cause features to appear distorted — sort of like how people look when you view them through a security peephole in a door.

4Select appropriate flash setting (off for indoor; on for outdoor) if possible.

For indoor portraits, shoot using available light rather than flash for softer illumination and no red-eye. In the Av exposure mode, simply keeping the built-in flash unit closed disables the flash. With Portrait mode, unfortunately, you can’t disable the flash if the camera thinks more light is needed.

For outdoor portraits, a flash adds a beneficial pop of light to subjects’ faces. In the Av exposure mode, you can just press the Flash button (pictured here) on the side of the camera to enable the flash.

5Press and hold the shutter button halfway to engage exposure metering and, in autofocus mode, to lock in focus.

Make sure that an active autofocus point falls over your subject. (In the viewfinder, active autofocus points turn red.) For best results, try to set focus on your subject’s eyes. If you have trouble, simply set your lens to manual focus mode and then twist the focusing ring to set focus.

6Press the shutter button the rest of the way.

And just like that, you’ve captured a great portrait.