Environmental Portraiture

These are usually shot with a slight wide angle lens.

If you’re using a digital SLR which doesn’t have a full frame sensor, then any lens shorter than 30 mm is considered a wide angle.

Again, since I don’t believe in rules for photography. Environmental portraits can even be shot with a 50 mm lens.

The B&W images are from my students. The ones in color are the ones I took for this demo.

Click on the pictures to see a larger version.

In this 1st picture of Jessica, notice the reflection of the track lighting on the 2nd framed picture on the back wall.

Instead of trying to fix it in post in photoshop, it’s always better to catch these mistakes in camera.

If you pay attention to what’s in your viewfinder when you take any picture, you will save yourself a ton of work in postproduction.

While concentrating on trying to get the reflection of those pesky track lights out of the picture, I didn’t notice these 2 new distractions: the red door reflecting in the other picture and the water bottle left by one of Jessica’s classmates

If you own a Canon digital SLR with a built-in pop up flash, but don’t remember how to over-ride the built-in flash unit’s output, watch the video clip below.


Next for a little bit more challenge, I replaced Jessica with Bobby.

Since Bobby’s skin tone is darker, I compensated by dropping my shutter speed from 1/60 sec to 1/45 sec but kept the aperture still at f2.8.

The 1st picture is still just available light, no fill flash. Notice the shadow on Bobby’s face and his right arm and shirt.

Just for the sake of comparison, I introduced some fill flash but this time instead of on-camera, I used an external flash to give me a fill flash of “-1” f-stop.

My Canon Speedlght 430Z was set to 1/64th power on manual mode to give me f2 for the fill light.

It was triggered by one of those cheap ebay radio remotes I bought off ebay.

It’s easy to forget about the other distractions in the other parts of the picture particularly if one reflection is a “bear.”

In this final picture, the reflection of the red door is gone, so is the reflection of the track lights on the picture on the left.

Despite the annoying nature of reflections, I am a firm believer if you can fix it during picture taking, it’s infinitely better than having to launch photoshop and messing with it in post production

Many thanks to Darren Conkerite, owner of Back to the Grind–coolest coffeehouse in Riverside–for allowing me the use of his premises for this lesson.

Also thanks to Jessica, Bobby for modeling and Terry Griffin and Keith Jeskey for sharing your behind-the-scenes picture.