How to Shoot Portraits in the Sun!
Here are some great tips & tricks for shooting portraits in the sun!
Here in Southern California the sun almost always shines!
To get excellent portrait shots in the harsh light of the sun, you can keep the following tricks and tips in mind!
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The Golden Hour!
Shooting during the Golden Hour can have amazing results. If you can time your shoot to shoot during this last hour before sunset, then go ahead and plan your shoot for this dreamy, golden light. This amazing time light washes the subject with a warm glow & produces some beautiful images. Look at the golden light in this image & the beautiful long soft shadows!
Scrims are a great tool to produce shade in the full sun where there is no natural shade. In this image the building had a narrow strip of shade, but it was not big enough for the model to get in complete shade. What did I do? Well, mom held up my 86″ Westcott white parabolic umbrella to create the shade I needed for the shot! It made for some pretty amazing soft white highlights! You can achieve this look with a white reflector, white umbrella, a scrim, white chiffon, white shower curtain, or almost any other white see through material. You simple place this diffusion between your subject and the sun to create your own shadow. I love the results! This allows me to get in and get some beautiful shots any time of day – so I am not limited to shooting the hour of sunrise or sunset. When shooting in partial shade, watch out for hot spots or dappled light. If you have ever shot under the trees trying to get shade you know exactly what I am talking about. Those tiny little dappled hot spots or slivers that hit the subject in the most annoying places. Now that you know how to remedy those hot spots, go ahead and scrim it to create a nice little soft light. If you can add a little reflected light into the subjects eyes, you now have the makings for a beautiful portrait. In this image the ground was a off white dirt/gravel mix so you can see the horizontal catch light bouncing back into her eyes.
Shooting in full shade is definitely an option if available for outdoor shots in the sun with great results. I always look for spots with covered shade that additionally can reflect some highlights into the subjects eyes. Watch out for color cast. The warmth of the brick worked well in this image. You can use a reflector, the sidewalk, or add a speed light or strobe when shooting in full shade to bring out that beautiful catch light in your subjects eyes. In this image, no reflector was used but the light of the full sun/sky was captured coming in between some pillars, from the perfect angle to create a natural catch light.
In this image the subject was in the full shade of a building. The ground was concrete and reflected back up into her face creating the perfect fill light and beautiful catch light in her eyes. No additional reflector was needed. This shot was captured around 3:00 p.m. in the harsh light of the California Desert in Palm Springs.
Clouds, whether they are floating by or it is overcast act like a natural scrim & create a beautiful giant soft box for shooting! I love to shoot in these conditions. In the following image shot at midday, the sky was gently overcast & it had begun to mist a soft rain. The results were beautiful! You can see the direction of the sun was coming from above, but instead of the typical shadowy racoon eyes, her eyes were beautifully lit and the reflected light from the lake bounced back into her face softening the already diffused shadows and adding some catch light.
Spot exposure meter
One trick I use to expose my subject perfectly while shooting in full shade is to use my onboard spot exposure meter selection in my camera. I always check my histogram to make sure I am capturing the information I want. This is much better than using the jpg version image that pops up on my viewfinder. This one trick, (ok 2 tricks), will elevate your photography to new heights. In the following image the subject is on a path in the woods. I used spot exposure to get the perfect exposure on her face. Light from outside the wooded area behind me was spilling directly in at a slight angle to fill her face with a nice soft fill light. If you look closely at the catch light in her eyes, not only can you see the horizon behind me creating her catch lights, but you can see the silhouette of me in this catch light.
For around a hundred dollars, you can purchase a Hoodman Hood Loupe. This handy gadget gets placed over your LCD screen allowing you to see your screen in full sun. This is a great tool to have if you shoot outdoors frequently. You can purchase them at most all stores that sell professional camera gear. I linked you to B&H above. The Hoodman blocks out the extra light & comes with a diopter so you can set it for your vision needs. This time saving piece of gear allows me to check my settings & results in full sun without running over to the shade after each shot.
Check your histogram
When shooting in less than optimal situations, such as full sun or night time – learn to use your histogram to check to see if you are capturing the proper information digitally in camera. You don’t want to blow out your highlights or your blacks so much that you are losing information. Read your camera manual to see if your camera has histogram capabilities & how to view it. Canon users can view their histogram when shooting in live view which is great for night time shooting.
Scout out your location at the time of day you are planning to shoot. You need to see if your plan is going to work with the sun. You may need to change your shoot from morning to afternoon or daybreak to sunset to capture the look you are wanting.
This topic would not be compete with touching on back light. You have the opportunity to rim your subject and set them apart from the environment with back light. Position your subject with the sun behind them. I like to move off center then to get some amazing shots. I love shooting at a narrow aperture so the background typically is overexposed unless I am using a strobe or speed light to help pull down that environmental exposure and fill in the subject. Don’t be afraid to move around to get the look you want. Move up, down, right & left. The following images were created in back light.
Most importantly, get out there & have some fun shooting. Don’t limit yourself to shooting only a couple hours a day. Get creative & use your environment to shoot some really awesome portraits in the sun! I hope these tips & tricks have given you some new ideas to try with your photography adventures.
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How To Fly With Photography Equipment?
You may be asking yourself “How do I fly with my gear & get it there in one piece?”
Well, if you have ever boarded a plane with your gear, spent the day bumping around in flight & running through the airport, only to arrive at your ultimate destination & hear the sickening tinkle of broken glass when you pick up your bag, then you know what I am about to share is important…..
One word – Pelican!
I recently met up with Court Anderson & his delightful dad in their Pelican Color Case Showroom in Carlsbad, CA to look at the cases & pick the one perfect for me. Now, I have to admit I had done the usual online looking at sites, You-tube videos etc. & I thought I knew what I wanted….but just to be sure my Nikon D200 f/2.0 would ride comfortable, I called them & asked to stop by for a test drive.
Court & his dad gave me a warm welcome and had the very case I thought I wanted out ready for me to try out, (black with red handles & latches). I asked a gazillion questions. Court showed me all my options for liners like the Trek pac. Ultimately I choose the 1510 black case with red handles. The grey insert & a gadget bag insert for the lid. Can I just say I am tickled pink!
Just look at this warehouse of color!
Pelican cases are indestructible & if it does break they will replace it. Lifetime here folks.
The case is waterproof, and has a gasket especially made to equalize the pressure.
I definitely will be visiting Pelican Color Case again!!!
Now I did the roller skate wheel hack so I will let you know how that turned out!
In the case right now, 2 Nikon full body cameras, the D810 & the D700, the Nikon 200mm f/2.0 -(the beast), Nikon 24 f/1.8, 50 f1/2, 85 f/1.8, the Nikon 135 f 2.0DC & the 105 f 2.0DC, the Sigma 35mm, the Nikon speed light SB910, Pocket Wizard triggers Flex & the Mini, batteries, chargers, cards, lens caps, etc. Wow, it holds alot!!! This little case will get me to my destination safely!
Thanks Court! Awesome Customer Service!
To see more of what my preferred gear is – stay turned… Next week I will walk you through “What’s in my bag”!
Fun & Adventure Awaits!
It’s time to get out & explore the wild side of Southern California! The area is full of incredible places to have a Model-like Portrait Experience that Sharon Wallace photography is known for. The Salton Sea area is an incredibly rich visual area to shoot. It is constantly changing due to the biennual artists show where creatives come from all over the world to create & display their art at Bombay Beach.
Black & White or Color?
Creatively speaking the color at Bombay Beach is amazing! Converting a few images to black & white – is always a treat because of the contrast the many colors & signatures & messages the creatives leave. They really pop out of the artwork & I think juxtapose the fashion style. I love how Asha’s dress really pops in this image!
It really wouldn’t be a true Beach Fashion Styled Shoot without a few images with a beach hat! I love how the hat makes her eyes pop as they peek out from under the brim. This area is along the old pilings from a pier at Bombay Beach at the Salton Sea in Southern California.
If you want the unexpected in your images, get out & explore!
Favorite Summer Style!
This is one of my absolute favorite images from the Summer Portrait Session at the Salton Sea in Southern California. The pilings make the perfect backdrop to set off her beautiful image. I love how the back light frames her beautifully & makes her image stand out.
She is a real trooper for hanging in the shoot! I wish you had smell-a-vision! The white sand is not really sand but fish bones….Yes, this is an apocalyptic experience that permeates all of your senses. It’s hard to explain if you have never visited the Salton Sea, but, let’s just say the hotter it gets outside the more pungent the smell.
Color & Texture!
You can find any color or texture imaginable here at Bombay Beach. Just do a little searching & you can find a wall or a scene perfect for any outfit! I love how Asha’s jumper & earrings match the wall in this abandoned building. Thank you to the artist who painted it! The second image is a favorite shooting ground – ‘Bombay Beach Drive-In” Two years ago I was at the beach shooting when the artist was working on this lot. He was wielding the sign which I love!!!!
A few more images……
Are you ready for your own personal
If you want to have a special & unique Model-Like Portrait Session in a fashionably out of the way place in Southern California, head over to the contact page & drop me a note now! Or click here to get you there quick!
Your Senior Portrait
In The Summer!
1 – Time!
Wow! Time is a big deal! To have an Epic Senior Portrait Experience with Sharon Wallace Photography, Summer is the perfect opportunity to make it happen. Summers allow you the time to plan for & then style – shop for the perfect outfit to show off your unique style and personality. Have a stress free portrait experience without worrying about those fall year book deadlines. You will have your image ready in plenty of time.
2 – Weather!
Summer time is best time for your Senior Portrait Experience because the weather is more cooperative. No freezing temperatures or snow. The sun will be shining most of the time & if you get a nice summer storm, it will typically blow on through in the summer and leave it nice and cool for a portrait session.
3 – Location!
Your Summer Portrait Session can be held on location in a destination of your dreams in the summer! There is plenty of opportunities to travel or get to the mountains without snow chains, the deserts, or the beaches. Be ready to sport your style in a summer location. Summertime means longer days so plenty of opportunity for the Golden Hour shots!
4 – Be A Trend Setter!
Trend setters are so much fun! Lead your Class in setting the latest fashion trends. Be the first to show off your unique images and leave your friends speechless that you have your Senior year starting off right!
To have this great summer time Senior Session Portrait Experience – Contact Sharon Now!
I am so excited to be starting up a new project that will be so much fun!
BE HAUtE Magazine will be a format to let my clients shine!
Check out the first issue here!