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Shoot: Hannah S.

August 16, 2011

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Shoot: Hannah S. – Tweaking your location

This is a recap from a fun shoot I did about a week ago. My friend’s cousin was in town, but since she had work during the day Hanna and I decided to do a fun shoot/explore a creek not too far away from home.

When shooting outdoors, the biggest factors that influence how your images turnout are “Weather”, “Equipment”, and “Location”. Weather is a no brainer. I personally wouldn’t mind doing a shoot in the rain (since I have a concept in mind for one…) but not too many subjects prefer being drenched. Not to mention runny makeup ; ) In broad daylight, having certain equipment (e.g. off camera flash) can be helpful, but not necessary essential. As for location, sometimes it’s not a concern if you plan on blurring out the background with a wide aperture. But most of the time that will limit you to relatively tight crop where you are close enough to the subjects to attain that thin Depth-of-Field. If a full body shot including your wider surrounding is what you are going for, prior scouting of location can be very helpful and time saving.

When I find that location, it usually has the lighting I need for the shot I have in mind. But sometimes I like to do some light tweaking to add a bit to the image…pun intended ; )

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Supplementing The Light

The location above was just fantastic! We were surrounded on all sides by trees, but right above the waterfall the trees cleared for a spot light effect. Even better, the sun was angled behind Hannah to create a glowing rim around her. Unfortunately, the light was perceivable by eye, but was somewhat diminished in camera. So I decided to help the sun by providing some additional light.

The setup was simple enough. A speedlight Vivitar285hv on a stand directly behind the subject, being triggered by the Cactus V5 Wireless Trigger. Having a radio trigger is very helpful when working outdoors. You don’t have to worry about line of sight to your flash like you do when triggering optically. Plus, you have no worry of the sun interfering with your infrared trigger. Be careful that the flash head is not peaking out from behind the subject. If it does, your subject will be lost in a ball of flare. When it works, you’ll have a nice glow effect around your subject, which I felt was very fitting in this situation.

Fun little fact? The stand could only go so low, and Hanna can only stretch her torso so high. So I’m actually hanging from a fallen log over 5ft deep water. Legs wrapped around and shooting upside down, trying to get low as possible to compensate and shoot upwards. The image was flipped in post. I think the tip of my hair got wet. Anything for a shot… : )

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Things To Keep In Mind

When shooting natural light, I often have to overexpose the image 1 or 2 stops above what the in-camera metering suggests. The camera is adjusting to the brighter background, and if the subject’s face is in the shadow, naturally it will be too underexposed without compensation.

When I do compensate though, I often notice that the subject’s face takes on the color of your surroundings. The gravel grounds, green water, green leaves, brown trees. Whatever surface the sunlight is reflecting off of to fill in the subjects face, it will take on that color. So if you do shoot in this style, keep in mind that you will most likely be doing some heavy color balancing in post. I thought about using a reflector to bounce the sun back into the subject for even coloration. But unless I have an assistant with me to hold it, it’s a bit unreasonable. It’s quite painful for the subject to stare at a reflection of the sun too, even if it’s a DIY white styrofoam board reflector.

In this shot, fortunately the reflecting surface is pure white gravel. The reflection was a bit strong, so it created a bit of an under glow effect. I don’t mind it that much, but this instance will always remind me in the future to look down to check what I am standing on, and how it’s color will affect the final image.

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