Pictures Against the Background of Panoramic Windows. Is It a Good Idea?

To create a simple, attractive portrait, the light needs to be soft and not harsh. Soft light allows you to create high-quality and beautiful pictures without harsh shadows and glare. This lighting can be achieved with large indoor panoramic windows and proper use of reflectors. It isn’t for nothing that in many photo studios, in addition to special lighting, floor-to-ceiling windows are provided. To avoid direct sunlight, the windows should be on the north side if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, south-facing windows will be better.

As you can see, when shooting indoor portraits, panoramic windows are a great source of natural light. One has only to place the model near the window, and you can get beautiful natural light. But when the window is in the frame, the camera’s exposure meter can get confused and give incorrect exposure settings. In this case, we have prepared for you seven options for how to shoot beautiful portraits by the floor-to-ceiling window.



Capturing a Silhouette

The most dramatic silhouette shots are taken when the model is standing in a dark room in front of a bright picture window. If you shoot such a scene, completely trusting the camera’s automation, you can get a photo with a fairly even exposure of light and dark areas. In other words, a silhouette photo won’t work.

Instead, you can set the camera to manual mode and set the shutter speed to achieve the desired effect. By slowing down the shutter speed, you can take a picture in which the model appears silhouetted against the background of a panoramic window. If the silhouette turns out to be too light, you need to ask the model to move a little further away from the window.

You can also meter the exposure on the bright areas outside the floor-to-ceiling window, so the silhouette of the model will be darker. But it is worth focusing on the model, not the background. It’s also a good idea to convert the photo to black and white. Black and white pictures with silhouettes look especially impressive!


Shadow Exposure Metering

Using this technique, you do exactly the opposite of what you do when shooting silhouettes. Instead of metering the exposure in light areas, you meter it in the shadows. So, the portrait of the model will be as detailed as possible. This is ideal for when the view outside the panoramic window is far from perfect. For shooting, you should choose a spot metering mode, and measure according to the model’s face, reducing the shutter speed.


Balanced Light

This technique combines the best of the first two. By balancing the lighting, you can capture details both inside the room and outside the panoramic window. But for such a result, you have to use a reflector or flash. With the help of a reflector, you can highlight the model and make the shadows softer. By placing the reflector closer to the model, you can take good portraits in aperture priority mode. If it fails to get the desired result, you can switch to manual mode.



In this case, the person is side by side to the window, at an angle to be slightly turned towards the light. In this case, the lighting will smoothly fall on the face. One side will be beautifully highlighted, while the other will have a soft shadow.


Soft Light All over the Frame

To get rid of shadows in a portrait when shooting in natural light, you need to place a reflector in front of a panoramic window, which would create a highlight for the area of the face where the light doesn’t fall. If you don’t have a real professional reflector, a white sheet of paper or carton will come in handy, you can also use a board wrapped in foil.


Bright Light

Place your object in front of a floor-to-ceiling window and then capture the portrait in front of the window. Adjust the settings on your camera to achieve the effect of a slight glare of a bright background deliberately. You may need to increase the ISO sensitivity.



For a calm, thoughtful portrait, ask your model to lean closer to the glass and shoot at right angles to get a reflection of their face in the window. The window can change the look of your pictures for the better.

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