Anyone can take a well exposed, flattering portrait by following a few simple tips. By using a lens that will flatter, not distort your subject; lighting and exposing the scene well; and correctly focusing on the subject, you're guaranteed a great shot. To help you, we've put together suggested starting points for you to try. Read on...
Lens Choice: For a portrait, you want to use a standard to short-telephoto lens, between 50mm to 200mm. NIKKOR prime lenses such as the 60mm, 85mm, 105mm or 200mm lenses; zooms: 70-200mm, or the telephoto end of the 24-70mm, 24-120mm lenses are ideal choices. If the lens you choose is too wide, such as 17mm, it will distort your subject’s face in an unflattering way. You also don’t want too long a telephoto, like a 300mm lens, because it will compress your subject’s face and not look natural. Also, the longer the lens, the further back you will likely have to stand when taking the photograph, which isn’t conducive to directing your portrait subject during a shoot.
White Balance: Depending upon the ambient lighting of your scene or location, you’ll want to set the white balance to match the available light. If you’re shooting indoors, using regular household lighting, set the WB to Incandescent (it is the lightbulb symbol). If you are going to rely on the flash from the Speedlight exclusively, then set the WB to Flash (it’s the lightening bolt symbol). If you are shooting in mixed light, you will want to create a custom preset.
Metering: It is suggested that beginning photographers use Matrix Metering.
If instead, you use Center Weighted Metering, you’ll have to place your subject in the center of the frame, press the shutter button half-way so the camera can focus and meter on the subject, (remember to focus on your subject’s eyes), and then press the AE Lock (if your D-SLR has one, check your manual), and recompose your photograph, fully depressing the shutter button when you are happy with the composition. Instead of using the AE Lock, you can keep the shutter button depressed half-way while you recompose the photograph, fully depressing the button when you are ready to take the photograph.