Tony Corbell shows how to control the sun when doing outdoors portraits.
Tags:Controlling the Sun in Outdoors Photography,controlling sunlight,how to control the sun in outdoors photography,outdoor portrait,software cinema,tony corbell
Grab video code:
One of the cool things about this picture is coming to the beach. We’re on the Mission bay side of Mission Beach in San Diego on the South end of the beach and we’re on the bay side because it’s a little more calm. There’s fewer people which means we don’t have to worry about crowd control and that’s one of the issues that you’ll be faced with anytime you’re shooting on a nice beach. Permits also, of course you got to have your permits in order, but the main thing is crowd control and you’ve got to make sure that you’re able to shoot and get your work done. On this side of the bay, which is we’re just 200 yards away from the ocean side. We’ve got calm water, smooth sand and it’s calm and it’s quite, and it’s families and kids and it’s great over here.
Now, what we’ve chosen to do here basically is have three different brightnesses of our light on our subject and this is the same thing that we’ve read about in art books where you know that in order to produce depth in a photograph, you have to have the true tonality, the true brightness of our subject. And then, a shadow side of that and a highlight side of that in order to produce depth and roundness, texture, form, shape and dimension.
So, we can do that by bringing this translucent fabric between the sun and our model. It calms down the highlight of my highlight side of the face. Makes our shadow a little bit brighter and it softens the edge of our shadow by making the light source larger and it gives us the ability to now work with the Plexiglas and mirror as it hair light or an accent light coming from behind the model, coming forward.
Now, that’s a simple, easy and inexpensive way to use mirrors and an expensive way to get an extra light when you’re out on location. I go to acrylic stores, plastic stores, you can go to home depot on your neighborhood, whatever you can find. Any place that’s sells Plexiglas always has a scrap pile, a scrap bin if you will. And it’s really, really inexpensive, so go there, dig around through scraps until you find some mirrored Plexiglas.
I use it all the time. I’ve got 5 or 6 pieces in this bag over here that cost me $22 and it last for years because it’s unbreakable. So, it works great then to redirect that direct sunlight back into the hair as an accent on the hair, the shoulder, the cheek line, all the way down to outline her shape and form. So, it’s a really simple shot though we’ve taking the sunlight and control that it is as if we were in the studio.
With the couple of my friends lending a hand, it doesn’t take a long to have my gear set up ready to go for the next shoot. For this shoot, all that’s needed is my Nikon D2X, a tripod, a diffusion panel and the Plexiglas mirror. Let’s just move right down here. I think I’m want to put you, just see this line toward that red pole, just go down, go up the way about 50.
I’m looking the position Tiffany against the very simple uncluttered background that I’ll make sure is out of focus by shooting wide open with the telephoto lens. With this lens I can isolate her against the blue water from this position and so I’ll remove any destruction around her and I’ll just do some kind of isolating her and then I’ll do some more that will show a little bit more of the environment. The sun is 16 rule applies here so if we shoot at ISO 400, we know that the 400 of a second on manual would be F16 and let me just take one and take a look at the histogram here. Right there.
Direct sunlight is not the most flattering way to light a beach portrait and as young and as beautiful as Tiffany is, with this kind of light, we’re going to see any imperfections there might be. The thing we’re probably not going to see is Tiffany returning to us for more photography unless we can improve our lighting just a little bit.
Okay, let me go, ready. Let me just bring this in. I’m going to angle the dome since our light sources so far to the side. I’ll take a reading with the dome aim toward the light source quite a bit. So, right there I’m getting a 60th of 16 ½. Well I don’t want to shoot a 16 1/2, I want to shoot at 4 ½, so, I’m going to roll it down to 4 ½ which it gives me a thousand. So, I can ask you to 1000 at 4 ½ at ISO 400.
So, we’ll do that real quick. We’ll fire of a few like that and then now I’ll have Jerry bringing in that separation light for me.
Treat the diffusion panel just like the soft box. Placing your subject to the back edge of the panel, direct some more of the light forward instead of mostly from the side. Then I just also slide the panel forward toward me until you start to see it hit her shoulder and angle back.
It’s really critical to get comfortable using your histogram to check the exposure before shooting and on the shoot like this, I really want to make sure that I’ve got a gap on the right side. Having a small gap on the right edge of the histogram tells me that my highlights will have plenty of detail and this will make the huge difference which will see later in our prints.
So without too much trouble, we’ve created a beautiful soft highlight just like were used to getting into studio from a soft box. The only difference between these two images is the diffusion panel is slide in the image on the left and of course the corrected exposure for the lost of light from the panel.
Tiffany looks great under the soft light created by the diffusion panel and by bouncing the sunlight off of a $3 Plexiglas mirror will have a really nice hair light and separation light that’ll add sparkle and color to the shot. In the image on the left, Tiffany’s hair has really come to life. We also have a little rim light across the right edge of her dress. Both images are nice and this works particularly well with Tiffany’s darker hair, but if your subject has blonde hair, it might be better to restrict the accent light to the dress keeping as much color as possible in the hair. Nice lighting doesn’t mean much if we don’t have great expressions. So try to keep your subject feeling relaxing comfortable throughout the shoot. The more fun they’re having, the better the portraits will turn out.