A few weeks, well probably months by now. I was taking some portraits for my friend Nandita. We only got a few shots before the sun dropped before the horizon, and we were far from finished. So I went searching for light, even though I knew the images would be low-quality. We found a streetlight beside the chapel and decided to see what we could do.
There is tons of noise, that's the sandy texture that you see. There's also a lot of totally black areas, and the color scheme in the setting is different from the color scheme in the dress but that issue is eliminated in black and white.
To take this image, I had my camera set to a high ISO (800-1600), aperture as wide as possible (4), and the shutter speed was fixed at the slowest possible without having hand shake (1/60th of a second). If I needed to brighten the image, I would increase the ISO which would lower quality, because it is the best choice since my other settings are as low as they can go. If I needed to darken the image, I would decrease the ISO, increasing the quality. Another option is to shoot in RAW and shoot slightly darker, so that you can bring in more light in post processing.
So let's talk about posing, since there was just one direct light source, it makes a huge difference in how the light falls on the face. Typically, you want to have the light pointing directly at the model's nose. However, if we did that in this image, the light is so high that she would have to twist her head so much that it would look unnatural.
Her weight is on her back leg, with her other forward and out to catch some light. Her hands are lightly holding her jacket and stoking her hair.
Usually, I tell the model where to stand, and adjust one thing at a time. When it comes down to her expression and hands, I usually keep things changing. I'll yell "Okay now SMILE! Stroke your hair, keep stroking, awesome! Hold on a sec, let me check those." Then, I look at the images and see what needs to be changed, then keep it or shoot again. It's important to keep talking while you are taking pictures, it makes things less awkward and re-assures the model. It also distracts them from what they are doing enough that they don't tense up. If you can, bring some fun music along to create a good atmosphere.