A bit of a fun portrait using studio strobes and gelled lighting.
This photo was taken at a James Bond inspired photo shoot. I had the idea of using a blind to represent a window and to have a light shining through he blind, this then evolved into a film noir styled shot. I love the low key style and the mystery of what is happening.
Where is your studio? Maybe some fancy building with lots of lights and modifiers to hand or maybe some top floor penthouse apartment? My studio for this shot was in a skittle alley of a Bristol pub! You see, my view is that your studio can be anywhere you want it to be and sometimes you just need a small space where you can set up a couple of speedlights and a reflector, oh, and a seamless paper backdrop. This lady is actually a very good makeup artist and I wanted to get a shot that told a story about her and the beauty is that I didn’t need to hire an expensive studio to achieve my shot. Expensive studios are very nice with their expensive lights and everything to hand and if you are taking quality shots for quality clients day in, day out then yes, you will probably need that space. But, for hobbyists and part time photographers a purpose build studio is not the only option!
This photo is from a themed shoot with model Helen Morgan Rogers and Mad Hatter Makeup Artist. It was taken in a wooded area at around midday so I had to get a bit creative with the lighting. Two speedlights and a shoot through umbrella were used to create this shot. Makeup was done on location and we had a few bemused looks as we walked a short distance to a clearing, complete with pumpkins, wands and other witch articals to where the shoot took place. The wood is very popular with plenty of trails and cycle routs and at one point there were some very excited children telling their mum that there was a real witch in the woods!The shoot was great fun and a huge thank you to Helen and Mad Hatter Makeup.
Another photo from the 1940’s shoot, I was trying to capture that time when the troops had a visit from a glamorous star such as Marilyn Monroe. As this was an open event it wasn’t easy to try and capture the scenes but it was a lot of fun trying. The two soldiers had bought their world war ll collection of memorabilia which included armoured cars that has been restored to their former glory.
This was taken at a rocky beach bear Bristol, I like the colours of the models hair and the scarf that is flowing around her arm. Taken with a Canon 6d and a Canon 85 mm f/1.8 lens. Zoom lenses can be convenient but I do like to use prime lenses, they get you to think about what you are doing, have a nice shallow depth of field and make you use your feet instead if just standing there and using the zoom to frame.By using your feet, you can discover new angles which you may of otherwise missed.
One of the biggest challenges of taking portraits at mid-day is the harsh light that casts dark shadows under the eyes and chin etc. Add to this the high contrast and you can have a challenge on your hands. There are a few ways to overcome this, one could be to use fill flash to reduce the contrast and “Fill” in the shadows. This can be great if you have got the time to set the ambient and flash exposures manually but this can’t always be practical if you are photographing an event and are constantly on the move. TTL flash can be used but I find that it can be a bit unpredictable at times; the flash can be fooled by very light or dark backgrounds. Another method can be the use of a reflector to bounce light into the shadows, this works well and an assistant can be useful here. For this photo I decided to opt for open shade. I placed the subjects in an area of shade but had plenty of sky available to cast light onto the subjects. The benefit I find to this is that I do not need an assistant, you can readily see the effects of the light on the face and it helps to prevent that horrible squinting that you can get from direct sunlight. So what happens if I can’t find open shade? Well I’ll just have to use one of the other methods or get an assistant to hold the diffuser part of my 5 in 1 reflector between the subject and the sun!!!
So what is your preferred method of shooting at mid-day in harsh sunlight? Should we just stick to one method or is it important to have a few different techniques up our sleeves?