Maximising What You Have

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOlympus 40-150mm at 40mm
1/15 sec
ISO 100

So I’ve been meaning to shoot more portrait photos for a very long time now, but haven’t had the means or equipment to do so.  I always thought that good portraits need plenty of equipment, space and a dedicated area.  Oh how wrong I was!

The biggest challenge that I’ve had is lighting.  It just always seemed like good portrait photographers had reflectors, at least one flash, backdrops, studios, etc., so it felt out-of-reach.  In what I suppose was a flash of inspiration recently, I found out that none of that is actually necessary if you’re smart about your surroundings.  I remember reading tips about maximising natural lighting in any given situation, but none of that really made sense until I tried it myself.  I used zero special equipment in the above photo (featuring Tiff, my fiancee).  It was simply a bed, behind which was a large window with the sunlight streaming through.  I initially found the sunlight to be just a bit too harsh, so closing the sheer curtains behind her gave the light just that extra softness I was looking for.

To be fair though, we were in a hotel room on the 21st floor, with a floor-to-ceiling window but still, the same principle would work anywhere, so long as you try and make the most of your environment!  It took a bit of fiddling with the manual settings, but after a while I was able to get it just right, so that Tiff really stood out against a brilliant white background.

PS: I actually think my photo ended up looking a lot like a stock photo.  I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing or not?

5 thoughts on “Maximising What You Have

      • OK – I’ll admit that it takes all sorts to make an omelet. But I’m afraid the Cat doesn’t fully agree with you…
        First pic before I told her about your views, second pic after…pics with my E-PM1/Auto Yashinon f:1,8/50mm and M42 tilt adapter (fun little thingie…I bet you got some M42 glass somewhere, so this tilt adapter is recommended!)….

        href=”″ title=”PEN10107 by Erich H, on Flickr”>


  1. Actually, Lensbaby makes a tilt lens for micro four-thirds that I’ve been eyeing off for a while. I really love the effects you can get with a tilt-lens, but I can’t quite justify buying one right now. I feel like these lenses have a very specific type of photo that they’re best used for, and I just don’t have the time to constantly go out to take those photos at the moment. They’re not nearly as versatile as normal lenses.


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