Portrait 9/52 - Ashla

This week’s portrait subject was Andrew’s friend Ashla. I met her and her mother at a local park on what turned out to be a lovely spring day. I really liked the way the sun was backlighting the grass and flowering trees so we set up to put that in the background. I also liked the way her pink dress worked with the bright greens and muted pinks of the flowers.


Ashla was a little nervous and shy at the beginning, so we didn’t get a lot of smiles and the smiles we did get were very forced looking. However, I thought we got some good non-smiling expressions. One of my favorites from the shoot is this pensive black and white:



After trying a few different ways to pull out more smiles I suggested that we play a little peek-a-boo from behind the tree. This brightened her up considerably and we got some good shots.


I also asked Ashla to jump from behind the tree which she thought was pretty fun.


I think we got some good shots and Ashla was a great subject. Here are a few last photos that I thought turned out well.

Technical Details

As far as setup, this was a much simpler shoot than my previous ones. This was a fully natural light shoot — the only modification was a standard sized reflector to provide a little more light to Ashla’s face. For camera settings, I started by setting my ISO to 400 to ensure good shutter speeds even though we were shooting in the shade. I shot in Aperture Priority set to f2.8 and dialed in some pretty good exposure compensation to deal with the bright background (+1.33 - +1.67). Shutter speeds ranged from 1/200s - 1/800s.  



This was a bit different setting from my previous shoots but the difficulties were similar — the social aspect. Pulling out good, honest expressions remains the trickiest part of shooting portraits for me. I feel pretty competent in my ability to set up the camera correctly for many situations and I’m working on improving my rapport with the subject. Ashla started the shoot a little shy and reserved but with some coaxing we were able to get some honest expressions towards the end. I’d like to progress from the forced smile look to the natural expressions faster, so that is something I can continue to work on. Regardless, I’m pretty happy with the results and am grateful that Ashla was willing to be my subject.

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