More Simple Lighting Techniques For Photography Outdoors
Monte Zucker• Posted Dec 1, 2000
When I added JJ to the portrait, I turned Danielle around to put her into a feminine pose, kneeled him down beside her and made another exposure. I was on a roll! This time, however, I had them facing the camera (rather than the 2/3 view that I had just done of Danielle) and so only 1/2 of their faces were lit by the light coming off the reflector. This suggested to me right away that I should bring in the bare bulb two f/stops under the ambient light (Photo 1)-look how beautifully it all worked out.
Before I left the area I took JJ over to one of the openings where the wall extended out from the archway. I had photographed him there before and knew the spot was perfect. This time, however, I once again put my reflector outside into the direct sunlight and brought that kicker light onto the left edge of his face.
We ended our day at the beach. I don't know what I ever did before moving to Florida-I love taking family portraits on the beach. It's helped me so much in developing a style of photographing in all kinds of light.
One of my favorite techniques is working in bright sunlight. I first find a place where I can sidelight people, while keeping the camera at a low position so that I can photograph into the sky for a background. I've developed my own favorite spots at all the beaches in the neighborhood-usually where there are small sand dunes. I set my camera up in a depression below them.
Although I have a plan for building these family groups, I don't really have a plan. By that I mean, I'll usually start by posing the mother, then add the father, slightly higher. Next, I try to find places and ways to pose the children, so that they are leaning onto their parents; I position them wherever they seem to fit in best. No special order.
In a beach scene like this, certainly there is light being reflected from all around by the sand. Still, I always add a strong flash just out of camera range to open up the shadowed side of their faces and bring the light on their faces up to the strength of the light on the background. Exposure for these types of pictures in bright sun is usually around 1/125 at f/16. So, the flash needs to be close to f/16, too. A little less works just as well.
Yes, Danielle and JJ were at the beach with us, too. Patient and as fun as ever. Talk about people always ready, always happy. This is a one-in-a-million pair of models!
By this time the sun was starting to set. They could actually look almost into the direct sun, so I used the sun as the main light for them. Without my encouragement, JJ picked her up, piggyback style. "Turn a little more to your left!" I yelled to them. They knew I was going for the 2/3 view of their faces (Photo 5). All natural light.
The only thing that I considered quickly was the height of the camera, so that I could place my subjects against plain backgrounds-no distracting elements. Both families enjoyed my "professional" pile-up technique (Photos 6 and 7).
Finally, to end the day Danielle and JJ came together again for this last picture. I set the flash to be two f/stops over the ambient light, because I knew that it would darken the sky even more and make a dramatic photograph with which to end the day. I exposed correctly for the flash (Photo 9).
I'm not quite sure at this point when this new series of videotapes will be ready, but if you want to be sure to have one of the first copies (at a special introductory rate, of course) I'll have more information available shortly. You can still write me to have me save you one of the first copies (autographed, of course). You know how to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org.