DAZ QUICK TIPZ 2: Don't See A Cloud, Carry One With You



Our “Captured By The Light 2010” tour is off to a great start and is receiving RAVE reviews!  In our first 3 days we've visited with over 700 photographers and gave away over $18,000 worth of door prizes including some goodies from B&H too. Why not check it out right here. We would love to see you there. Be sure to use promo code CBLBH10 to save yourself $20 off the regular registration price.

In this post, I want to reprise a small segment of the CBTL program on lighting. It's a cool technique for taming the harsh sun light and doesn't cost you an “arm and a leg” in gear either. I hope you enjoy it.


Don't See A Cloud, Carry One With You

Shooting outdoors can be quite challenging for a wedding photographer who, many times, has to shoot in the bright sunlight of a cloudless Saturday afternoon. It's about the worst lighting situation you can find yourself in when shooting brides in white wedding gowns. We always wish for just a little cloud cover when facing these situations. But, with no cloud cover available, what do you do?

I have a few rules I follow when I'm faced with just this kind of lighting situation. My biggest rule is, "When shooting in direct sun, always backlight your subject(s)". That way you keep the strong glaring light off their faces. Since the faces are now shadowed, I simply add additional lighting with my off-camera flash. I will save that technique for another day.

In this post, let me share with you one of my favorite new lighting techniques I've been using when shooting in direct sun. The problem is that harsh light. The sun's direct rays not only lead the subject to squint badly, but they also create hard edged shadows on the subjects face resulting in a less than flattering portrait.

For years I have been solving the problem with a 48 inch translucent reflector. But the problem with the reflector was that it required two hands to hold, and being 48inches, just wasn't quite large enough to do the job most of the time.

A few weeks ago, I received an 84 inch translucent prototype umbrella from Westcott, one of my favorite companies when it comes to light modifiers. I have been a huge fan of their 45 inch Halo for over 20 years. Anyway, back to this 84inch translucent umbrella they sent me—I had to give it a try. 

We headed out to a park in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. I asked the bride to stand in the direct sun—the lighting was awful on her face. I did my best to have her orient her face to the light but it was just too bright on her for me to capture a pleasing image—see Figure 1.

That's when I pulled out my "cloud in a bag" super-sized umbrella. It was time to work lighting magic. I asked my assistant to open the umbrella and intercept the suns rays with the large umbrella. The very harsh lighting was transformed into a very soft, flattering, directional light, softening the shadows and illuminating the bride—see Figure 2.

I was recently at Photoshop World in Las Vegas. During my Wedding Shootout I found myself in a residential neighborhood behind the church in which we were working. Las Vegas sun is especially brutal for on-location outdoor shooting situations. Luckily, I had my monster umbrella with me. I repeated the same procedure I had performed a week earlier in Cincinnati.

Due to the large size of the umbrella this time I was able to shade the wedding couple. I simply asked them to just "play" in the shade. I needed to increase the exposure on them by two stops to compensate for the umbrella's reduction of light on the couple. This overexposed the background shifting the colors to beautiful soft pastel tones. I found the result to be quite a natural, beautiful photograph. See Figure 3 & 4.

A large umbrella like this can be very useful on your next wedding. As I said translucent panels take two hands to bold. An umbrella only takes just one hand. There are lots of choices in the large umbrella department. At 84 inches, they can easily cost up to $170—yep, a bit pricey.

Want a better priced choice? If you want to give this technique a try, B&H sells a 60 inch Impact brand umbrella for an unbelievable low price of only $29! What a deal. I just picked up two of them for myself. It’s a few feet smaller than the 7 foot monster I was using, but at 5 feet, it should still fill the bill quite nicely for that occasional situation when you need to tame the sun.

Hey gang, that was just a small part of what I'm covering this year in my Captured By The Light 2010 program. Check out the tour schedule right here and plan to stop by when we visit a city near you. 

Hope to see you there!