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Midday sunlight is terrible for outdoor portraits. It's too contrasty for digital sensors to handle. In other words, the shadows go black and the highlights appear too bright, compared to what the human eye and brain see. That’s why it was a struggle to get good pictures when I photographed the spectacular annual Jember Fashion Carnival in Jember, East Java, Indonesia last month.
Studio lights are essential for many types of product and fashion shots, and I’ve used them for decades. Sometimes I like to keep things simple, though, and it’s fun to challenge myself to create lighting that evokes a mood and an emotion with just a single portable flash. I recently photographed a beautiful young model, Ellecie White of Hillsboro, Tennessee, and I thought this would be the perfect time to minimize my equipment. I felt it would be less intimidating to a five-year-old, and I was sure I could create the type of lighting I wanted.
Auto white balance sounds like it solves every issue regarding colors in your pictures, but it doesn't. For example, when you shoot at sunset or sunrise, AWB wants to 'correct' the golden tones that we love so much when the sun is close to the horizon. It desaturates the yellow and red portion of the spectrum, and the colors look weak and disappointing. By contrast, if you shoot with daylight white balance, you will capture the colors you see. The yellows, reds, and oranges will be saturated and dramatic.
Birds have captivated wildlife photographers from the beginning of photography, but no group of birds are more intriguing than hummingbirds. It's not difficult at all to photograph them when you see them in the garden hovering above a flower, but unless you do it right your efforts will only result in mediocre pictures.