Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Shady shooting!


Just a quick post about shooting outside on bright days. If you’re already into photography then this is old news to you :)  but I thought these images illustrated the point quite nicely so hopefully someone somewhere might find it useful :)

As you can see the above shot was taken on a really bright sunny day.  I wanted to use the hedges to frame Stacey and I wanted the path to be the background but this meant I had to deal with a very harsh sidelight.  I quite often hear people saying that ‘natural’ light is the best light, but that’s not strictly true.  I think what they usually mean is that window light is a nice light.  It’s nice because it’s a large lightsource compared to the subject and so the light hits the subject from wider angles and therefore wraps around the subjects contours giving a very pleasing transition from light to shadow.

If you put someone beside a tiny wee window then it definitely wouldn’t be as nice :)  It’d look a bit like the picture above, because the light would be relatively small and so would be very hard, making a sharp transition from light to shadow.  The same thing is happening above because the sun, while bloody huge, is relatively small because it’s far away.  If it was a cloudy day then the cloud cover acts like a large soft diffuser and gives a much more even light, but on this day the sky was clear blue.

So the solution was to move Stacey back a bit to one of the shadier areas where she wouldn’t be in the direct sunlight…


So while this sorted the high contrast problem we now had Stacey standing in the dark.  So this is where the softbox came in.  Sometimes I can use three or four lights but in this instance one was easily enough.  The softbox made the light a bit bigger and therefore a bit softer for the reasons I mentioned above. For the pic below Leah was standing on her tip toes holding the softbox high and pointing down towards Stacey.


This is the reason you quite often see a photographer using a flash on a sunny day.  It allows you to light on two different levels, one is your background (or anything that’s lit by the ambient light) and the second is your flash.  Of course I was limited by the power of the flash I was using and by my choice of aperture.  I’d ideally liked to have blurred the background a tad more by using a larger aperture but because I wanted to use the flash I was limited to my flash sync shutter speed of 1/250th so I shot this at f4, ISO 200.

Anyway, must also say a bit thanks to Houston House Hotel for letting us use their lovely grounds :)


1 comment:

  1. nice explanations and cool shots Ian, very cool :)