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Shoot: Nora & Josh Engagement Shoot

July 9, 2011

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Shoot: Nora & Josh Engagement Shoot

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of working with Nora and Josh on their engagement photos. They were a fun loving couple and I had a great time photographing the couple!

I’ve been straying away from using artificial lighting lately, especially for family and couple sessions. In my photography I often try to emphasis the “rim light” look (shimmer of light around the subject). I’m a fan of the way it separates the subject from the background, and just like the overall mood that it creates. For the most part, I’ve relied heavily on artificial lights to achieve this look in the past. But since I let the subjects interact on their own without posing and are ever moving, stationary artificial lights were definitely out of the picture (no pun intended…)

Fortunately, using a very simple (but difficult at times to implement) concept you can still create the “rim light” look using only natural light. I’ll write about that a little later. Essentially, by using natural light I’m given more flexibility and can stop, drop, and roll whenever and wherever I need to keep up with the subjects and not miss the moments that come and go.

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Location: Tackett Residence

I’d like to take this moment to thank the Tackett family for allowing us to use their field and barn for the shoot. Acquiring the location was somewhat last minute since I had gotten back into town late from the 4th of July celebration. I drove into town the day before the shoot, and even though I had the barn locations in mind I hadn’t asked for permissions yet from the residents.

I stopped by their resident late in the evening, and when I explained that I was looking for a barn location for an engagement shoot they were more than willing to let us use their barn and their field. We were told to just look out for sheep droppings and bugs : )

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Lighting: Available Light

Many people when shooting outdoors prefer an overcast day, or if the sun is out, in the shadows of the surrounding buildings. It allows you to take evenly lit portraits without having to worry about the harsh shadows created by their nose dashing across your face. You also wouldn’t have to worry about half of your face being overexposed, while the other half is in complete darkness. But when I want to create that “rim light” that I’m accustomed to, I would have to resort to using artificial lights again which defeats the purpose of shooting in natural light as mentioned in my first segment.

In order for me to get the “rim light” look, I would actually need to shoot in the sun. There are few things to keep in mind…

  1. Have the sun directly behind the subject
  2. Position your subjects so there is a shadowed background directly behind them
  3. Find a shadowed area to shoot from

#1: By having the sun directly behind the subjects, you are essentially creating even shadows on your subjects faces. Now if you were to do this in “Auto” mode, which no one should be shooting in anyways ; ) You’ll find yourself with blackened silhuetted subjects. You would want to shoot in manual or in aperture priority mode with about +1~2ev setting so their faces are exposed properly.

#2: If you do just #1, you’ll most likely find your subject basked white, as your entire background is overexposed. You’ll need #2 to create that sliver of light surrounding the subject. You want to find a background behind the subjects that are in shadows. In the second photo posted above you’ll see that behind the subjects are some shadowed tree lines. Shooting against it creates the separation in exposure, allowing the “rim light” to show.

#3: Since the sun was so low to the horizon it was hard to accomplish this one. When shooting into the sun, the biggest challenge is flare. Although a certain amount can be artistic, it can also completely washout your image at times. You want to find a low hanging branch or anything that casts a shadow and shoot underneath it while keeping the subjects in the sun. A long focal length lens can be very helpful.

It can be very difficult to achieve in the moment, but when it all comes together the results I think are spectacular!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 15, 2011 5:02 am

    Great tips! I will have to give it a try. Thanks

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