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How To Shoot A Dramatic Mixed-Light Portrait

My name is Eli Infante (@eli_infante_) and I live in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and have a full-time teaching job with a charter school as a photography and A/V production instructor. I also work as a portrait photographer and create personal portrait work tutorials though my own YouTube Channel. I draw passion and inspiration from all locations locally whether it be the gorgeous South Texas landscape or historical structures. Living in a border town there is an unprecedented hunger for education in photography and techniques that have inspired me and pushed me to broaden my work.

See how portrait photographer Eli Infante created this stunning outdoor portrait using the Sony α7 III & 24-70mm f/2.8 G-Master.


Photo by Eli Infante. Sony α7 III. Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G-Master. 1/3200-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100

Inspiration & Planning

This was a personal project shot in an open field across a park. My goal for this shoot was to style the wardrobe by collaborating with local businesses such as The Glass House and Shop Modest Babe. I already had the location in mind so me and my friend Marco Jilpas (@Marco_Jilpas) planned out the wardrobe that we believed would fit best for the location. Knowing we were going to be working with earth tones we decided to go with an outfit that would complement the location. The planning stage of a shoot is a very part of my creative process. I have a video behind the scenes of this shot called Photo Break #1 you can watch below.

The Gear

I used the Sony α7 III with the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G-Master for this photo. I use the α7 III because I love shooting full frame and I couldn’t pass up the great price when the camera launched. I chose the 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens because it gave me the flexibility to zoom in and out for different compositions . Shooting with a gorgeous sunset in South Texas produces many advantages for a photographer. I had to shoot fast and a zoom lens was a great choice. The f/2.8 aperture gave me the separation I wanted but still kept the sky detail. 

How I Got The Shot

I used the Flashpoint XPLOR 400 PRO with high speed sync to capture the sky detail at shutter speed 1/3200. My strobe was positioned to the left to keep the same light direction as the sun. The strobe added fill light on Fernanda the model to balance the exposure. For the pose I had her sit down to create depth as well as allowing the grass in the foreground to be shown along with the sunset in the background. My camera settings were ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/3200-sec. 



I chose Photoshop for skiing retouching and to bring out the colors. I applied a variety of color adjustments from Selective Color, Color Balance, and Curves. My style of choice is utilization of the grading tool, Selective Color. For example, if I want to target specific colors such as yellow, by selecting yellow in the selective color menu I am able to color grade the specific yellow tones in the sunset. For skin retouching, I prefer to use Frequency Separation and Dodge and Burn. I find those techniques work best for my portraits and have had a lot of positive feedback from my clients as well. You can see my editing process for this photograph in the full edit tutorial below. 


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