Fill Flash In Full Sun
Fill Flash In Full Sun
Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 at 7:41 pm
|I’m a huge fan of studio lighting. So much so, that I even light like I’m in a studio when I’m outside! Call me a control freak, but I love being able to shape the light to my whim and not be dependent on the sun to light my entire scene. A pleasant side-effect of this is that I can achieve bright blue skies, as well as a sense of hyper-reality by using strobes outdoors. With the popularity of the fridayphotoschool seminar download / DVD on fill flash, I thought I would share with you how I use a lot of the techniques seen in that program in my work.See Photo 01 Sometimes shooting outside with strobes can be a little intimidating. On the one hand, you’re not in the comfort of your studio, and unless you’re shooting in your own backyard, you might not have complete privacy. Depending on what equipment you’re using and what area you live in (and how gung-ho the local law enforcement is), you might need to get a permit (I live in L.A., one of the most media-savvy cities around, so for me permits are a must).
Breaking it down
I knew that I’d want to shoot at the beach, and I knew that I’d want the sky to be as blue as possible. So my first step was to figure out approximately what exposure I’d need to use in order to shoot west in the mid-to-late afternoon to get the sky nice and blue. Later on, I could match the lighting I brought into the environment to my “ideal” exposure for the beach and sky. In scouting the location, I took several photos:
See Photo 02
What to expose for
Making it work
I decided to do a little bit of testing with the circular polarizer to see how blue I could get the sky. I noticed that shooting directly toward the sun produced a less pronounced effect, and that the bluest skies came from the east. Being in California, though, we wanted to showcase the beach, so I knew I’d be shooting in a westerly direction. The circular polarizer still made a difference when shooting toward the west, so I knew the circular polarizer was a good idea.
See Photo 03
Bring out the “Big Boys”
Working it through
I had seen other photographers use just a ringflash on camera to achieve some pretty cool outdoor effects on a beach, but when I tried it here it wasn’t giving me the look I wanted. So, I moved to a 5′ Octabox. With some minor adjustments of distance and angle, I found that this was exactly the lighting style I wanted; it had a very nice directional quality which suggested natural light, but at the same time it had a softness to it that seemed more polished than natural sunlight could produce on its own.
See Photo 04
Tweaking the final image
See Photo 05
For this I had my other assistant Griff hold a 4×6″ silver reflector off to camera left. To make the highlights a little more noticeable, I also opened the aperture, settling on an f/5.6. I adjusted my strobe’s exposure down to this level as well.
See Photo 06
Once all this was locked into place, I had the room to experiment with different camera positions and angles. I even flipped the setup around for a few shots, repositioning the light, model and reflector to my right.
See Photo 07
All of this can be a lot of work, but the photos you can get from it are definitely worth it! For information on my two day workshop, click here.
See Photo 08
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