Cre­at­ing sun­light

Shoot­ing out­doors means cre­at­ing nat­u­ral light. Here, it’s low-sky hard back­light we want

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

Cre­at­ing nat­u­ral-look­ing im­ages out­side, where flash is hid­den, can be done in a num­ber of ways de­pend­ing on the look you want to achieve. Lift­ing shadows or cre­at­ing dif­fused light, like that found on a cloudy day, will mean soft dif­fused light. In such a sit­u­a­tion a large soft­box is ideal.

In the ex­am­ple be­low, how­ever, we ex­plore the idea of us­ing flash to make hard and di­rect sun­light. I want to cre­ate an im­age that looks as though it was shot in the af­ter­noon, as the sun gets lower in the sky. I also want to shoot di­rectly into the ‘sun­light’, or in this case our flash.

It is important to pick a day that is close to the con­di­tions you want to cre­ate. A damp or dark day won’t tell the story, as the hard sun­light will feel out of place and less be­liev­able. There­fore, I shot on a sunny af­ter­noon so that back­ground light and the light in the im­age blends with our flash.

The lo­ca­tion I chose pro­vides us with the shade to place our model, some sky to show the bright sunny day, and also trees and fo­liage to break up the hard light in the back­ground and pre­vent over­ex­posed sky dom­i­nat­ing the im­age. Plac­ing the flash in front of the trees will give us some con­trast and cre­ate in­ter­est.

Most important is the di­rec­tion of light and how it en­ters the lens. Firstly, it should be placed high up so it feels like it’s com­ing from the sky. Too much power, and it will cre­ate harsh flare that will de­tract from the model. The flare can be con­trolled by the di­rec­tion and power of the flash, which will be dif­fer­ent for ev­ery setup. It is there­fore important to take full man­ual con­trol of the cam­era and flash, start with an am­bi­ent light read­ing, then add the flash, ex­per­i­ment­ing with di­rec­tion and power un­til you achieve the de­sired im­age.

Re­mem­ber also that de­pend­ing on the time of day, the tem­per­a­ture of light changes, so us­ing a CTO will help blend the flash into the ex­ist­ing light.


FIND YOUR LO­CA­TION Out­side, I am look­ing for a lo­ca­tion where there is mix­ture of back­ground and sky, prefer­ably that pro­vides me with a shaded area, but also shows the bright, sunny day.


PRE­PARE YOUR FLASH As flash will be po­si­tioned high up to cre­ate the an­gle of the sun, the head needs to be mounted on a light stand or mono­pod. Us­ing a bare head will keep the flash harsh and di­rec­tional.


ADD WARMTH WITH CTO To mimic the warmer light com­ing from the af­ter­noon sun, I add a one-stop CTO gel to the flash. Here, I use the Pro­foto kit that clips onto a mount and then onto the flash head.


PO­SI­TION YOUR FLASH The po­si­tion of the flash is be­hind the model fac­ing into the cam­era and lens. I place the flash with the tree in the back­ground be­hind it, as this serves to ul­ti­mately make it stand out more in the fi­nal im­age.


SET UP CAM­ERA To cre­ate a cor­rect ex­po­sure on the model with­out flash, my aper­ture is fixed to cre­ate depth, so I al­ter shut­ter speed and ISO. I am mind­ful, how­ever, that above 1/250 of a sec­ond, my flash will fire in HSS, which I means I need more flash power.


CON­TROL FLASH MAN­U­ALLY I set the flash units so I can con­trol them man­u­ally. A care­ful bal­ance is re­quired, and how much I want is de­ter­mined by per­sonal pref­er­ence. TTL won’t work here, as we are fir­ing the flash back into the cam­era.


PICK YOUR FO­CUS POINT As there is light com­ing di­rectly into the lens and the fore­ground is darker than the back­ground, I set my cam­era on spot fo­cus so that I can con­tin­u­ally al­ter this while the model moves in the frame and I re­frame.


SHOOT AND AS­SESS Shoot­ing out­doors in nat­u­ral light may mean it changes con­stantly, so you need to keep re­view­ing and chang­ing your set­tings to com­pen­sate. Here, we only shot when the sun was out to main­tain the bright feel in the back­ground.

Right aboveHARD SUN­LIGHT, SOFT IM­AGE The light be­hind Kirsty is hard and di­rec­tional, cre­at­ing falloff and rim on her shoul­ders and hair. By bal­anc­ing the ex­ist­ing light and adding our own flash out­side the shade where we shoot, I cre­ate a soft feel of im­age

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