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Portraits: Making the Shot is bursting at the seams with practical and down to earth portrait photography advice, tips and imagery. It has been created to do one thing, transform your dull and lifeless pictures of people into beautiful works of art.
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Beware the Blow Out

Example of blow out on hair and arm.

Have you ever looked at a portrait and the image was so light or white that you can barely see the features of the subject? This is a common problem that can afflict both professional and amateur photographers alike, and it is commonly called the blow out. This simply means that the features of the person in the picture are blown out to the point that they are hard to distinguish. In addition, this type of situation can make the rest of the subject’s skin look sweaty or oily, and that is not something you will want to happen.

What causes the blow out?

This is a very good question, and there are several elements that can lead to the problem. If you are photographing outdoors in particularly bright conditions, this can lend to the blow out. Additionally, setting the camera’s shutter speed too slow can also cause the subject to be blown out. Finally, using too harsh of a flash too close to the subject can have the same effect.

Remember that you can always lighten a dark image, but you can rarely correct a blown out image.

When it comes to taking the best image, it is always better to err on the side of slightly dark. That means, avoid slow shutter speeds, and if you are in particularly bright situations, choose to use shades or reflectors to diffuse the light. For the flash, either use a diffuser, which can be easily attached to the hot shoe flash, or choose to use studio lighting, which is softer and less glaring.

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