While it is true that to be a lighting expert in portraits you will need many gadgets, some hours of careful reading, and a few hours of practice, to exponentially improve your images will suffice with a few basic tricks that will make your portraits no longer lots to deserve at least a corner in the wall of your living room. We see?

Learn to measure correctly
Just as a Formula 1 runner has extensive knowledge of mechanics, or kinetics, and knowing the engine of your car perfectly helps you in your career, a photographer helps you know everything that influences the final quality of your car. the picture. With that I do not mean to know each nut that makes up your camera, but the behavior of the elements that help us in the photographic process; from the sensor, to the objective, to the flash or to the photometer.

What is the photometer or exposure meter?
The photometer is responsible for measuring the light of the scene and tell you if you need more or less light depending on the point at which you expose. There are two types of photometers, the one that you have incorporated inside your camera that is characterized by being a photometer of reflected light, and the external handheld photometer that normally has the possibility of being used both in reflected light mode and in light mode incident.

Incident light photometer: Explained in a very simple way, the incident light is the REAL light that exists in the scene, independently of what it is reflected in. The external or hand-held photometers are usually used in this measurement mode, although they usually also have the possibility of working in reflected light mode.
Reflected light photometer: It is the one that is integrated into the body of your camera and is characterized by measuring the light that “emanates” from the object or person you are portraying. So far, well, it’s also programmed to measure the reflected light as if the object were a medium gray tone. This means that the reflected light photometer will do well when the scene approaches a reflectance tone of this gray, but not for example when it is too dark or too light (snow, white houses, etc.). These situations are what deceive the photometer and give us incorrect exposure values.

If yours is the portrait, I’m sorry to tell you that you’ll have to get a photometer from ;-), since it is the one that gives us the most correct exposure values, since it is not influenced by the colors of the scene that could take us to deceptive readings and therefore to incorrect exposures. Remember that there are tones that reflect much more light than others, and that for example, the dress or the background of your protagonist, can lead to confusing the photometer and make you think that there is much more or less light than there is in reality.

Types of measurement
Although we have already mentioned that the photometers of incident light are those that provide us with more correct measurement values, the truth is that the integrated photometers are those that we possess the common of mortals, and although they are not perfect, knowing them we can work perfectly with them. Normally, integrated photometers have several measurement modes that should be known since they provide very different readings of the scene from each other:

Punctual: Perform the measurement in the specific area of ​​the sensor that we previously indicated. It is a very precise form of measurement but also with a lot of error margin since it does not contemplate the rest of the scene; simply the indicated point.
Center-weighted: Performs the measurement in the center of the frame mainly, but takes into account the exposure values ​​of the area near it to give us the exposure values.
Matrix: It is the most used, and usually works well in most cases, unless the scene has very complicated lights. Broadly speaking, the matrix measurement takes into account different points in the scene to create an “average” between the different lights.