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Shoot: Monika K.

January 30, 2012

Shoot: Monika K.

Almost 4 months after moving here to Ventura, CA, I finally got around to a portrait shoot. It was a no plan, no particular theme, spur of the moment impromptu session. But a shoot non-the-less. And after 4 months, I realized…I am a bit rusty. Ok…quite a bit rusty…

Getting back to shooting

The last 4 months since I’ve moved here to Ventura, California has been quite a ride. Everyday has been packed with extraordinary events and overcoming turmoils that it already seems like a life time. It has been quite a change of pace for me compared to the slow pace I had the previous year, and it took quite some time to get settled in. But now that things seems to have started fitting into their places, I thought it’s time to find photography a place in my new life.

Everyone has their reasons for deviating away from the things they love the most, be it work, family obligations, new environments, etc. But eventually I feel we always feel the yearning to get back. Even if it doesn’t feel like a great idea at first since you’ve been away so long, once you take that first step again you’re right back where you used to be. The feeling of belonging, and the reassurance and knowledge that this is where you feel the most “you”. For me it just so happens to be photography, and there were definitely some rust that had built up in these legs when I went to take those first steps.

The Mind Behind The Shot

It had been quite a while, so this time around I decided to go safe and stick with what I’ve been used to; Rim lighting with natural light. I was shooting mostly with the 50mm f/1.4. I wanted to go for a rim lighted subject with a strong out of focused background to bring further focus upon the subject.

The Optimum Conditions for Rim Lights:

Typically for rim lighting it’s actually much easier to do a shoot in a sunny mid day with the sun high in the air.

Keep the sun behind the subject, find a shaded area behind the subject for contrast, and shoot from the shade to avoid lens flare

The more vertical the sun the better. You can keep the sun out of your frame to avoid flare mayhem. If you can shoot from the shade if would be best because you can completely cut out the lens flare, creating a high contrast image. Personally I think it’s also much easier to find a shadow with the sun high up as well (mostly from trees). But in this case the sun was already setting, and it was skimming just above the horizon. If I still wanted the rim lighting, there was no way to avoid having the sun within the frame. So I changed up the plan and the feel of the images.

Getting Rim Light During A Sunset:

For the image above, I decided it was better to incorporate the sun and it’s flare into the image. I switched to a wider angle lens (17mm on a 1.6x crop body), and the shot was taken from as high of an angle as my 5’8″ figure would allow me.

Using the ground as the shaded area behind the subject:

For rim lights, a shaded background is essential to provide the contrast. But at this time of the hour it’s difficult to provide one since the sun is so low to the ground. Thankfully because the sun is so low, if you are working on an uneven surface a large portion of the ground is actually being shaded by none other than the ground itself (bumps and grass blades) leaving plenty of dark areas to bring contrast to the rim light. By shooting high up and wide, I kept the ground behind the subject. By doing so it allowed a subtle but sufficient rim light around her. The effect is seen greatest with the dog Sydney, because of his puffy fur.


With the amount of blank time that I had since the last time that I had done a portrait shoot, I definitely felt the rustiness. It definitely took me longer than I used to getting into the groove of comfort, concentration, technicalities, and inspiration. But all I can say is that I am grateful to be behind the lens. Every time I shoot I am reminded of how much more room for improvement I still have. But that is also a good reminder of how much further I could improve. All I can do is to keep shooting, keep reflecting, keep improving…and keep shooting 🙂

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