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December 30, 2019

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November Meeting: Portrait Photography

November 30, 2019


We were delighted to welcome Anna Durrant to our November meeting who shared her top tips and secrets for taking better portrait photographs. There are four main elements (apart from equipment) to consider: lighting, background, camera settings and composition. In her allotted hour, Anna focused (scuse pun!) on natural lighting to demonstrate the wide variety of results which can be obtained from this element alone. Her tips included:

  • Group photos - vary the height to avoid everyone standing in a stiff, straight line

  • Back lighting can frame the subject nicely ('halo hair')

  • Side lighting can make the face look thinner if the photo is shot from the darker side

  • Look for even lighting - avoid dappled lighting under trees, harsh shadows etc. A dull, overcast day is preferable for portrait photography rather than a sunny one

  • Look for reflected light which bounces the light into the picture e.g. from walls and surrounding buildings

  • If shooting in woodland, go for the 'front of the wood' as further in the light falls away sharply

  • Use doorways to unclutter busy backgrounds and windows as a light source

  • Subjects standing sideways look more natural and less stiff, though beware bare upper arms as these can look fatter

  • Standing with the weight on the back foot when standing sideways can lengthen the subject and can look more flattering

  • Get rid of double chins by photographing downwards, not upwards; the latter however is good if the subject is bald!

  • If the subject has difficulty smiling, distract them in someway or get them to laugh (even if it's a false laugh at the start it can often change into a natural one)

  • Get the subject to lean forward slightly - this looks more natural and less stiff than standing straight to attention

  • Conversion to Black and White can help with decluttering and tricky lighting, or add a different atmosphere when compared to the colour original

  • Fill the frame - Anna's website has lots of examples to inspire you

Elsewhere this month the Crafty Crew made beaded stars (or snowflakes depending on your preference) and two Crew members also enjoyed Wiltshire's Christmas Crafts day in Hullavington. Singing with Sian and the New Speakers Day were two more county events visited this month.

The Book Club reviewed Lorna Cook's The Forgotten Village, with mixed feelings, though one member was inspired to visit Tyneham, the Dorset village abandoned during WWII which forms the book's setting.

The Theatre Group thoroughly enjoyed the Museum's evening Cabinet of Gin and Curiosity, and keeping with the night theme, Our Town explored the High Street at night after rain and with the Christmas lights a-twinkle. Time was also found to sneak in a quick daytime coffee to celebrate Grounded's reopening, plus a trip to the cinema to see The Aeronauts.

Finally we had plenty of Belles success to celebrate, with Sally's elevation to county vice-president and Pauline's double page spread in WI Life. The latter was the first time Pewsham Belles has featured in our national magazine and recognised Pauline's inspiring achievement with her new world record in archery.

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