Opportunity Photography

Learn to spot great shots on the fly – no planning needed!

In this natural light portraiture class, Karl starts by explaining how to get a creative full-length portrait that includes interesting architecture, making the most of available light. He highlights the importance of knowing and anticipating natural light and thinking about your background.

In a second and third shoot, he shows how important it is to train your creative eye to spot composition and lighting opportunities for a creative image. With these tips you’ll learn to anticipate where the light might be and what will look best so that you’re prepared for any situation.

Using beautiful surroundings and natural light, Karl captures a series of stunning portraits without any planning, just careful consideration and attention to detail.

In this class:

  • Portrait photography using natural light
  • How to use natural light for outdoor portraits
  • How to identify possible locations for photo shoots
  • How to take creative full length portrait images
  • Using lines, texture and color for creative portraits

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hey Karl.. I love your course! I’ve learned so much in just a few weeks and I can see my pictures improving every time I take my camera out, so thank you!

    Quick question… I noticed you’ve changed your ISO between 100 and 200 during the outdoor shoots. What circumstances cause you to do this and how do you know when to switch your ISO?

    1. Hi Aletha, very glad to hear you are enjoying and benefitting from our platform. Changing from 100 to 200 ISO gains me one stop of light (covered in depth in the Introduction to Photography course) which will either allow me to double my shutter speed and retain the same exposure or close my aperture down by one stop to gain depth of field. I’m guessing in this scenario I needed to do one or the other, that’s the only reason you would do it because increasing ISO too much can be a problem (again covered in the Introduction course) but increasing at the low end (say up to 800 with modern cameras) is usually OK if necessary.

  2. Oh yes! Thank you Karl for taking the time to answer my question. This helps. I really do appreciate it.

  3. Karl, I am a little confused. It says you shot this at ISO 100 and shutter speed 1/1250th of a second., at 2.8 . Why such a fast shutter speed? How did you get that much light in the photo? I hope this isn’t a dumb question. Ugh. 🙁

    1. Hi Tamarah, not a dumb question at all. At this time of day which was almost the middle of the day it was very bright and the sun was out and the sky was clear. Remember f2.8 is a large aperture and a lot of light will pass through, anything from f1.4, f2, f2.8 is going to let a lot of light in. At the other end of the scale we have the smallest aperture f22 then f16, f11 gradually getting bigger towards f8, f5.6, f4, f3.5 and then f2.8 so f2.8 lets a lot of light through.

      1. Thank you Karl, for taking the time to answer. I shoot my horse outdoors a lot in bright sunlight. I use to shoot on AV (Aperture Priority) but since I’ve met you I am shooting in manual. Is it better to adjust the aperture first, then the shutter speed? I am not making sense. You had the ISO at 400. Is it better to raise the ISO with a faster shutter speed, versus lowering it and then using a slower shutter speed? What is the better goal? I guess when I shoot in bright light I wasn’t using my aperture at 2.8, but instead using a smaller aperture and raising the ISO. UGH, I am not sure how to word this. 🙁 I think what I am saying is I would have thought to shoot in bright light, I would use a smaller aperture. So I may be your most challenging student! HA!

        1. Hi Tamarah, I normally try to work out what is the priority for example do I want shallow depth of field on the subject or greater depth of field. Or if the subject is going to be moving quickly do I need a faster shutter speed to freeze it or do I want a slower shutter speed to add some motion blur. Once you have prioritised what is most important to your shot then go with that and then adjust all the other settings to suit if possible. Sometimes you might have a situation outdoors in bright light where you wanted say shallow depth of field (f2.8) but also a slow shutter speed to add motion blur (say 1/30th) then you had to much light and the picture was overexposed so you could lower the ISO to it’s minimum (maybe 50ISO) and there might still be too much light so you’d have to make a decision such as add an ND filter to cut that light out or decide you’d have to have slightly more depth of field than you first planned.

  4. I notice you back light a lot of your portrait shots to give a rim light around the hair. Obviously the key is either adding some reflector light when necessary or if the scene lights the models face from diffused sources. I think without this knowledge people tend to illuminate from direct sunlight which we know is harsh.
    Do you use just the one focus point for portraits? I know my camera has a plethora of choices and zones! Its confusing!

    1. Hi Chris, yes I only use one focus point and simply select the one I want to use once I know how I’m going to compose the shot and then I’ll select one that goes over the subject in the correct place.

  5. is it right that sharpness corner to corner is possible by Canon 50mm f1.2 but softness in the corners by 85 f1.4?! which one worth to invest top of 5Diii for better result however?

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