Three Window Looks for your Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’ll show you three ways you can include windows in a portrait shoot. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching AdoramaTV brought to you by Adorama the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers and in this video I’m going to show you how you can include windows in your portraits to create three entirely different looks. And when it comes to gear I’m going to keep this super simple and straight forward. I’m going to use my camera and natural light. Let’s get going. So to help me out today I’ve been joined by Jade . Jade is going to be the model for this and as you can see she’s dressed in a style that kind of complements the Rowfant House we’re in here as one of its many interesting periods of history and we’re going to begin by doing a nice simple silhouette. It’s perhaps the most straightforward of the shots to do because all you need is a bright light source like the outside world and then your model to be in somewhere darker like the inside of this room. Now if you’ve got a brightly lit room then you might want to turn the lights out and also if your room is really white, then that can cause this to be a little bit more tricky but we got quite a dark room to work with here so this should work really well. Now if I just let the camera do its own thing at this point and just say okay, take a picture at the standard exposure whatever you think is right camera, it’s going to come out with a shot that’s, well I’ve got some detail outside. I’ve got some detail inside. It’s not really giving me one thing or the other. That’s what auto exposure does. In this case I need to take control of the exposure and I’m going to do that by switching to manual mode and then I’m going to use the shutter speed to adjust the exposure. I’m going to deliberately under expose Jade and I can see it actually on the back of my camera or I could use the cameras built-in spot meter whichever way you prefer and I’m going to under expose by maybe a stop and a third, up to two stops depending on taste and the brightness of your background and that’s going to give me a really dark exposure on Jade but still detail in the outside world. When it comes to focusing, I’m using a shallower depth of field and it’s important that you focus on your subject not on the background and lastly I think these pictures work great as black and white images, so I could do that in post-processing or I could do it right here in camera so that’s what I’m going to do, let’s take a few pictures. As you’re doing your silhouettes if you notice that it’s not quite as “silhouettey” as you would like one thing you can do is actually move your subject away from the window. The further they are away, the less light from the window will reach them and the more of a silhouette they will become. So for this setup we’re going to do something completely different. We’ve changed to a different room, we have found the coldest room here at Rowfant house, it’s freezing. Last time we exposed for the highlights. This time I’m going to expose for the shadows. Now what that will do to the windows is it’ll make the windows go really bright white. Now this is a perfect technique if the world outside your windows is less than glamorous. Now to achieve it I need to do some work on the camera, so let’s come around the back here. If I let the camera just do its own thing in aperture priority mode or something similar evaluative metering means I get a picture that is okay. I can see detail in Jade’s face but I can also see detail in the windows and remember that’s what I want to get rid of now I could use exposure compensation but I’m going to switch to manual mode instead and take full control of my settings. I’m not going to just my aperture, I’m going to adjust my shutter speed and ISO. So if I take my shutter speed to a slower setting my picture gets brighter now to work out whether it’s right or not I can either judge on the screen or I can use spot metering. Spot meter off of Jade’s face and that will allow me to get a great exposure. So that’s the basic technique let’s take a few pictures like this. This works really well if your model keeps their back to the windows and those windows aren’t in direct sunlight, and finally we come to balancing the light and that’s where I’m trying to get the same amount of light on Jade’s face and on the windows so I can see detail in both. Now to do this again I’m going to try and avoid harsh direct sunlight and I’m going to try and use one extra thing. It’s.. It’s basically this which is a big silver reflector. You could use a flash if that’s your preference but a silver reflector is a great tool. Now what this is going to do is act like a mirror. It’s going to bounce light back on to Jade. It needs to go very close to make this happen so the closer I get it, the more even the illumination will be so here’s what it looks like exposed for the windows but without a reflector and then when I add the reflector in, you can see how much of a difference that makes. When it comes to the shooting mode I could happily use aperture priority right now because it’s a nice even exposure. You can use manual if you prefer but one thing I’d highly recommend is you shoot in RAW. Okay let’s take a few pictures like this. If you’re lucky enough to have a bit more space you can make more dramatic use of this reflector by moving it around. For us we’re a little bit limited on space but fortunately I’ve got Jade doing amazing work, so I’ll keep shooting. So there you go, having windows in your portrait photography can make a big difference to your photos but even bigger is being able to control what you see or don’t see through them. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video don’t forget to leave me a comment below, click on the bell icon and of course click on the subscribe button, I’m Gavin Hoey thanks for watching.

57 Replies to “Three Window Looks for your Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. Gavin, Jade needs a cup of hot tea, not only to keep her warm but as a prop for her to hold. Plus it is always considerate to offer your model a refreshing beverage. 🙂

  2. Thank you for showing settings, this gave me base idea of what to start with, before adjusting according to natural light available. In your case, was there an overcast? or sunny?

  3. Gavin, This was, to me, one of your nicest and prettiest and moody videos yet. Your music was Spot-On. How about more just like this one….?

  4. Gavin, your instructional videos are consistently excellent and informative. This one is no exception. Thank you for the inspiring ideas and techniques.

  5. Very useful tutorial, Gavin. You have a knack for cutting through photographic mumbo-jumbo and making excellent results accessible to all.

  6. Brilliant Gavin! I can see so many uses of these technics to my everyday shooting! Hope you notice me some day and give me a chance to take an interview of you

  7. As always, a very well-explained technique. You cover all the relevant points concisely and clearly. I'm always happy to see that you've posted a new video. Keep 'em coming, please!

  8. Great video! exposing for the subject’s face and blowing out the window is a technique I use quite frequently.

  9. 1100 likes of this video and 9 people disliked. Who are these 9 people? They must be miserable and negative people! Great Job Gavin!!!!

  10. Great theme. Very “Rebecca”. I just about expected Dame Judith Anderson to drift in or George Sanders to open the window…😉

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