Has the idea of creating more portraits been “tickling your fancy?” That Canon EOS camera you use is a superb tool for doing just that. Portrait photography could possibly be the most popular field of photography in which to develop excellence. Amateurs (and experts) are seeking for ways to improve their Portrait skills.
You might be surprised to know that having the absolute best Canon portrait lens is not the most vital part of getting a perfect portrait. But a first-class lens will unquestionably go a long way toward getting you to that great image.
Being a portrait photographer can truly be a pretty glamorous career. If you are good and make the right connections, you could be in the company of some very well known people. It would be a much better way than the paparazzi, who are not very highly regarded in the photography business. What they do in not portraits, anyway.
While the most visible portraits are of famous people, by far, most photographers are not hobnobbing with the rich and famous. There is plenty of work in portraits that does not include actors, singers, and other glitzy individuals.
Other portrait niches include individuals, family photos (Olan Mills does not have a monopoly here), high school senior photos, babies, and even pet portraits. And sports portraits is a huge opportunity, too. You can truly find a unique niche in portrait photography.
The camera is important, but the portrait lens is just as important. Since the subject, or model, is where you want the viewer’s eye to go the instant they look at the photo, there are certain techniques to accomplish that. The first thing you want is a narrow depth of field. This means that the plane of focus is shallow, putting the other objects in the photograph out of focus. That sharp area of focus unconsciously draws the eye of the viewer.
Great portrait lenses accomplish this shallow depth of field by allowing the picture to be taken with a very quick shutter speed. This fast shutter is a function of the aperture (or lens opening). A good aperture for portraits is f/2.8 or wider. The smaller the number, the wider the aperture. In fact, the better lenses have apertures as wide as f/1.2. (And as the number gets smaller, the price tag gets bigger.) Using a wide aperture is one of the keys that will get you the sleek and sexy depth of field that you are looking for. Your subject will love their picture (and you). Plus, the feeling of accomplishment for you, the photographer, is exhilarating.
Portrait photographers should be very aware of the focal length. Photographers who do only portraiture use what is know as prime lenses only. A prime lens has a single focal length, no zoom capability. If choosing a prime lens, 50mm would be the shortest length to choose. You definitely don’t want to go any shorter, because you will have to get too close to your model. A better focal length is somewhere between 75mm and 150mm. This gives the photographer a better combination of depth of field, distance from the subject, and flexibility in choosing the perspective.
If the lens does not have a long enough focal length, it could cause facial features that are out of proportion. Everyone has seen those images of the cows where the cow’s nose looks way out of proportion when compared to the rest of the animal. This technique is cute, and done purposefully, employing a wide angle lens and getting right up next to the subject. It’s a humorous shot, but not one that a high school senior would appreciate in their final yearbook.
There are also lots of photographers who use zoom lenses for portraits. One of the most popular is the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens. Flexibility is the key to using a lens with so much diversity in choice of focal lengths.
The good news is that just about any lens can double as a portrait lens. Taking great portraits does not really take great equipment. The right photographer can do it with a cell phone.
The blur of the background, as mentioned, is the key to an exceptional portrait. Try putting more distance between the model and the background. In other words, put as much distance as you can between the model and the background. This will put the background out of focus and compensate for the lack of a wide aperture.
When you own a digital SLR, your family and friends automatically take it for granted that you can take good portrait images. In fact, you do have the ability to do this. But the job can be done so much easier with the right lens, a portrait lens.
While buying a great portrait lens is not first on everyone’s do-to list, you should know which lenses take the best portraits so that when the occasion arises, you will know which lens to pull out of your camera bag. It can also be part of the selection process when you are buying your next lens, because getting a lens that can double up as a Canon portrait lens is a great advantage financially.
The best lenses, especially Canon lenses, are featured at www.CanonEOSLenses.org.