LX5 Settings for Portrait Photography

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I like this image. It has nothing to do with the blog that follows for reasons I will explain.
I like this image. It has nothing to do with the blog that follows for reasons I will explain.

I was reviewing some of the Google searches which people have used to arrive at the Lightweight Photographer blog when I noticed someone searching for LX5 setting to use when shooting portraits. Usually I like to blog about questions which I don’t think are already answered on the site and this is one example. The reason I haven’t addressed this until now is that I don’t take pictures of people so I don’t even have one to illustrate the blog with. I will however take a moment to explain the settings I would use on an LX5 to shoot portraits:

  • I will assume the picture is all about shooting the person and in particular their face.
  • Shoot at mid to long focal lengths so that you can zoom in on the face. Ideally this is 50mm or preferably more if you can. Wider angles tend to distort the subjects face and they really won’t thank you.
  • Set the camera in aperture priority mode as controlling the aperture is more important than the shutter speed – providing your subject can sit or stand still whilst you shoot.
  • The aperture should be wide open at the widest aperture. This will help blur any background in order to focus attention on the sitter.
  • Try to compose the image so that there is minimal background showing around the subject in the frame. Ideally the background should be the same all over to avoid any distraction – unless of course you want to show the subject in a particular setting and the setting is important to the picture.
  • Move in quite close to the subject to help the blur and also to fill the frame with the subject.
  • Place your subject in good light but not direct light. Direct light is harsh and will probably make your subject squint. A good approach if you are indoors would be to stand them next to a window and shoot them so the window it to the side of you. If you are outdoors try standing in the shade of a tree.
  • Set the camera to spot meter from the subject. If you expose for the subject in this way it will underexpose the background and highlight the subject further.
  • Set the camera into spot focus mode and take care to focus on the eyes of the subject. If anything needs to be in focus it’s the eyes.
  • If the subject has a lot of shadows on their face consider using some fill in flash. If you do this check the manual as it’s easy to get the flash too strong.

There is of course more than one way to crack this problem and simply setting the camera to Portrait mode with auto flash will produce a good image. If you still don’t get a good image ask yourself the question, is the problem that the subject is just uncomfortable having their picture taken. It might not be your camera skills that are limiting the results.

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