Shoot a stunning summer portrait

 lens flare

 Learn how to shoot a glowing, dreamy summer portrait, then enhance and retouch the image in Elements

Wnen tne weatner is rine, wny nor taKe advantage by getting out in the sun to capture a lovely summery portrait?

Bright and sunny days enable you to capture all the colour of your subject and their background-and italso be a lot easier to keep your subject smiling!

For the best results, you should plan your portrait shoot in advance. For our shoot, in addition to selecting the appropriate kit we took into account both the location and our model. In our kit bag we packed a 50mm prime lens, a 17-40mm wide-angle lens and a reflector. Prime lenses are brilliant for portrait photography, and the wider the aperture you can select the better; shooting using a wide aperture enables you to blur backgrounds so that you suoject reaiiy stanas out. we also tooK along a wide-angle lens so we could get a variety of shots.

Itbest to shoot later in the day, when the light is softer to avoid harsh shadows. Try shooting into the light, and using a reflector to bounce some light back onto your subjectface; this can create a nice halo effect around your model s head (itmost effective if they have long, light-coloured hair).

We wanted our model to have a natural look, so we asked her to apply natural make-up, and we asked her to bring along a few changes of summery dresses. This type of shoot is great fun, and gives you the opportunity to be really creative. Therejust one golden rule-good communication between you and your model is key to getting great results!

Head to the beach

The beach is an ideal spot for a summer portrait shoot, but if younot close to the coast then consider other locations such as fields with long grasses or flowers, or even your back garden. Aim to shoot later on in the day, when the light is warm and soft. Itworth scouting the location in advance so that you know the best spots to head for; look for uncluttered backgrounds, and for interesting landmarks that will complement your subject but not distract from them.

Clothes and accessories

2 Ask your model to bring along a few outfit changes so that you can get a variety of shots; bold-coloured clothing, such as a red dress, will look striking against a blue sky. If therea breeze, you can \ also bring along a scarf, and get your model to drape it over her so that it moves with the wind. Wind does make it harder to use a reflector, so face your model into the sun but watch out for harsh shadows on the face.

Let there be light

Turn your model away from the sun, so her face is shaded and the sunlight creates a halo effect around the hair, then bounce the light back onto her face using a reflector. Your model may find the reflected light a little bright, so get her to keep her eyes closed, then open them when youready to take a shot. If possible, bring an assistant along to hold the reflector;

Camera setup

4 For a shallow depth of field, set your D-SLR to Av mode. If your aperture is capable of opening up to f/2.8 set it to this; if it isn, open it up to the widest available setting (this will be around f/4 or f/5.6).

Keep to IS0100 if possible, and the camera will select an appropriate shutter speed for the lighting. If the shutter speed drops below around 1/60 sec youneed to increase the ISO up to 200 or 400, but try not to push it too far, as you donwant noise to ruin your portraits.

Lens choice

We shot with a Canon EOS 7D, and look two lenses along for maximum flexibility. Our wide-angle Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM gives an effective focal length (EFL) of 27-64mm with our crop-factor sensor, which is ideal for capturing wider views that include more of the surrounding scenery. Our Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens is perfect for close-up portraiture; as ita prime lens it gives the highest-quality results, while the 80mm EFL gives a flattering angle of view, and the extremely shallow depth of field produces beautifully blurred backgrounds. Itimportant to keep the focus sharp on your modeleyes. To do this, select the central AF point and half-press the shutter button to focus on the closest eye, recompose while keeping the button half-pressed, then fully press the button.

Model behaviour

Communication between you and your model is key; explain what youlooking for before you start shooting, so she knows what to expect. Once youset up your camera, try not to get bogged down with adjusting settings, and concentrate instead on communicating with your model as youshooting to put them at ease. Be confident: if youunsure then they will be too, whereas if yourelaxed youhelp them to relax, and your shots will look much better.

Raw settings

¦1 Open masterclass_start.dng in ACR. To brighten ¦I the shot set Exposure to +1.00, and set Recovery to 25 to pull back some of the clipped highlights; there are a few blown highlights in the hair we canrecover, but these add to the summer feel. Set Contrast to +50, and to warm up the colours set Temperature to 5300. Click Open I mage to open the image in Photoshop.

 lens flare

Crop the image

, There s some dead space in the left of the scene, ¦¦ so wecrop to improve the composition. Select the Crop tool, and in the options bar set Width to 30cm, Height to 20cm and Resolution to 300 pixels/inch. Draw a crop out from the bottom-right corner of the image until the left side of the crop is just beyond the modelarm. To boost the contrast of the image add a Levels adjustment layer, and set the Shadows slider to 19, the Midtones to 1.14 and the Highlights to 230.

Add a lens flare

Next we ll add a lens flare effect; it s best to do this ¦¦ on a separate layer, so create a new layer and label it Flare . Goto Edit > Fill Layer, and in the Fill dialog choose 50% Grey from the Use menu. Leave Mode set to Normal and Opacity at 100%. Click OK.

Lens flare filter

IJl To create the lens flare go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare. Check the 105mm Prime option, push the Brightness up to around 150% and move the centre of the flare to the top-right of the preview window, then click OK. To tone down the effect, change the blending mode of the layer to Lighten, and reduce its opacity to around 40%.

Mask the flare

n To remove the lightening effect from the model, MM add a mask to the layer and select the Gradient tool. Set the foreground colour to black, then click the gradient swatch in the Options bar and choose the Foreground to Transparent preset. Click just below the modelchin, and draw a diagonal line up to a little way above and to the right of her head to mask the effect. Add a Colour Balance adjustment layer, and set the Yellow/Blue slider to-10 to warm up the shot a bit more.

Reduce the redness

. Next we ll reduce the redness under the modelWM eyes. Duplicate the ’layer, label it ’and zoom in on the eyes. Select the Clone Stamp tool, reduce its opacity to 50% and set the brush size to 10 pixels and the hardness to 50%. Hold down Alt and click under the eye to sample natural-looking skin tones, then clone these sampled pixels over the red areas, taking care to avoid the lashes.

Remove spots and blemishes

B Select the Dodge tool. Set Exposure to 10% and Range to Midtones, and paint over the eyes to brighten them. Click with the Spot Healing Brush tool to remove small spots, then use the Patch tool to remove larger blemishes. Set Patch to Source in the Options bar, make a rough selection around a blemish and drag it to a clean area of skin; the blemish will be replaced with the clean pixels, and the tones of the patch  will be blended with the surrounding skin tones.

Clone out the strap

To remove the bikini strap, select the Clone Stamp tool, untick Aligned in the Options bar and carefully clone out the strap with adjacent pixels. Youneed to align the cloned pixels precisely along the edge of the neck, and where the dress is casting a shadow. To help blend in the cloned pixels reduce the brush hardness, and optionally reduce the brush opacity.

Enhance the eyes

HI Next we ll enlarge the eyes slightly to counter the ^¦i subjectslight squint. Zoom in on the eyes and go to Filter > Liquify. Select the Bloat tool, and in the panel on the right set Brush Size to 260, Density to 60 and Pressure to 10. Click a few times on each eye, with the brush centred on the pupil, to enlarge them.

Boost the smile

JTTI Next select the Forward Warp tool, and set the ¦¦ Brush size to 80, Density to 50 and Pressure to 50. Click on the corners of the lips, and pull them up a touch to exaggerate the smile. When youdone this you may need to retouch the skin around the lips so the lines and shadows remain realistic. OK the filter.

Tone down the glare

To tone down the patches of reflective highlights HH on the skin, select the Brush tool, and right-click on a skin tone that s a little darker than the highlights to sample that colour and make it the foreground colour. Reduce the brush opacity to 10% and set the hardness to 0%, and brush over the highlights.

Enhance the lips

Use can use the same technique to enhance the lips. Sample a pink/red from the lips, reduce the brush size to around 30 pixels and brush over the highlights. When youhappy with the image, save it as a PSD file if you want to keep the layers intact.

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