Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Outdoor portrait lighting?  (Read 2955 times)
richarddd
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 101


WWW
« on: May 11, 2012, 01:38:10 PM »
ReplyReply

What are the best ways to take a picture of someone outdoors in bad lighting (harsh sun, high contrast, etc.) when you don't have an assistant to hold a reflector/diffuser and can't carry heavy equipment, such as when travelling or hiking?  The goal is often to show the person in a specific location, rather than just to take a portrait.

Choices seem to be

1) Wait for a cloudy day or for dawn or dusk.

2) Find shade.  Not always possible, especially if you want to photograph someone in front of a building or landmark.

3) Put a reflector or diffuser on a stand.  One issue is carrying an adequate stand.  Another is that the reflector or diffuser can easily blow over in the wind.  

4) Position subject with sun behind and use fill flash as appropriate.   May be hard to do, for example, if photographing someone in front of a building or landmark and you can't wait for the sun to move to a better position.

Am I missing something, such as another technique or a better way to hold a reflector or diffuser without a third person?
« Last Edit: May 11, 2012, 01:44:01 PM by richarddd » Logged

David Sutton
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 898


WWW
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2012, 04:54:20 PM »
ReplyReply

For hiking I don't think there is a solution, apart from putting a diffuser over the on-camera flash to mitigate its harshness. Otherwise I use a flashgun and Pocket Wizard and carry a few bungy cords to attach it to the nearest tree/pole/small child. You can get fairly light weight flashes that work well enough.
Logged

k bennett
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1463


WWW
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2012, 07:42:28 PM »
ReplyReply

Not many solutions, really. You're dealing with physics. Shade is your friend, early morning light, back lighting -- all those things will work.

I often carry a compact light stand and fire a speedlight through a white shoot-thru umbrella. You can get the umbrella quite close for a tight headshot. It's hard to overpower direct sunlight with the little flash, but it can make a decent main light if the subject is backlit or in the shade. It helps if the background is in the shade, of course, as that lets you use the sun as a rim light and open up a little. I use a Pocket Wizard to fire the flash, but you can get a 30-foot off camera cord that works just as well and costs a lot less. (And doesn't require batteries.)

The real solution is a powerful battery flash unit and a large softbox, but that's not something I'd want to carry in the backcountry or on a long trip. Not much fun handling it by myself even out of the back of my truck, but it makes nice photos....
Logged

Equipment: a camera and some lenses.
James Billett
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 16


WWW
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2012, 05:35:21 AM »
ReplyReply

I have to deal with the problems you have outlined quite frequently. If I cannot find or make shade, like the others I use a speedlight, or two. Remember, if you have the Canon gear you can set the flash to hypersync mode (syncs faster than 160th second) which means you can reduce your ambient lighting whilst maintaining your flash whether it be on or off camera. It can take a few attempts to get correct but can work very nicely.
Logged
tom b
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 869


WWW
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2012, 05:52:29 AM »
ReplyReply

Try The Strobist.

Lots of info on how to use off camera stobes/speedlights. The site has its fans and detractors, which ever way you feel it's a site that has a lot of interesting information on it.

Cheers,

Logged

richarddd
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 101


WWW
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2012, 06:48:51 AM »
ReplyReply

I suppose I should invest a few dollars in a hot shoe adapter so I can mount a flash on a small tripod or gorillapod, as well as carrying a bungee cord or two.

I used to follow Hobby, but haven't looked in a while.  http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/04/on-assignment-taming-harsh-sunlight.html
Logged

MarkL
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 341


« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2012, 06:42:20 PM »
ReplyReply

For harsh sun with your constraints over location, time of day, gear and assistance your choices are limited to backlighting, hopefully your background will be dark and shaded or the sky will blow out. A small stand (look at manfrotto nano), speedlight and umbrella (putting your camera bag on it) may also help but you will still be limited to backlighting in this scenario too or you will just end up with filled double shadows.

You best bet is really to be more flexible on time or location otherwise unless everything is perfect you will always be into damage limitation. Good wedding photographers have to make good pictures in difficult conditions but they at least have the luxury of being able to select an area of the location to shoot.
Logged
K.C.
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 653


« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2012, 12:18:38 AM »
ReplyReply

Remember, if you have the Canon gear you can set the flash to hypersync mode (syncs faster than 160th second) which means you can reduce your ambient lighting whilst maintaining your flash whether it be on or off camera.

You mean High Speed Sync, HSS. Hypersync is Pocket Wizards name for their software that retimes the flash and allows for higher sync speeds. The two are quite different, and while you can do Hypersync with a Canon flash, you'll need a couple of Pocket Wizards to accomplish it.
Logged
langier
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 647



WWW
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2012, 10:24:03 AM »
ReplyReply

High-Speed sync (faster than 1/250 all the way to 1/800) has been a stalwart of the Nikon wireless system for a long time. It's built-in with the D200/D300/s/D700/D800, the D70/80/90/7000 and probably with the 3000-5000 series bodies, it's built in to the on-board flash. With these and the D2/D3/D4, it's simply using the SU-800 and most of the current and previous generation flashes.

Easiest way if shade, clouds, etc. aren't available is to simply use a TTL cable to your flash to get it away from the camera so that YOU boss your flash around, practice at your leisure, then go out with a wider-angle lens, move in closely and shoot away. Sometimes just that little and for some annoying built-in flash is all you need to lessen the harsh shadows.

It seems daunting, but with a little hands-on practice and a little bit a flash, the harshness can be tamed.
Logged

Larry Angier
ASMP, NAPP, ACT, and many more!

Webmaster, RANGE magazine
Editor emeritus, NorCal Quarterly

web--http://www.angier-fox.photoshelter.com
facebook--larry.angier
twitter--#larryangier
google+LarryAngier
Lightsmith
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 111


« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2012, 05:57:52 PM »
ReplyReply

Easiest approach is to take a small collapsible reflector. It will reflect back 50% of the light which is enough for fill for a subject. With the reflector the WB is not affected as the reflected light will have the same color temp as the ambient light in the background.

Flash is out as the unit needs to compete within a stop of the light from the sun if shooting outdoors on a sunny day and this is compounded by the need to use a small aperture and faster shutter speeds which if they are over 1/250s will eliminate effective flash sync. There are pulsed flash units from Nikon, Canon, and others that do a trick where they put out multiple bursts of flash to compensate for a faster shutter speed but when they do this their maximum output is reduced by 50%.

If you use a ND filter to bring the shutter speed low enough for full flash sync then you have also cut back on the light reaching the sensor. So the answer is a powerful flash and I use one or two Quantum Qflash units for outdoor work with their external battery packs. This is not practical for your needs.

A 15" collapsible reflector can fold up into a 6" diameter disc that is easy to pack and bounces enough light and is easy to manage with one hand if there is any amount of wind blowing. I get the type that have a black side and a silver side and when the cover comes off I have a translucent scrim that blocks 50% of the light. That way I can use it as a reflect or to block reflected light from one side of the face or to mount it to a branch (Justin clamp) and use it as an umbrella to block the sun and create instant shade.

Another approach which can work in certain circumstances is to use a high fps rate and shoot a burst of 4-6 images and bracket the shots so you have files that are over exposed by 2-3 stops and ones that are in the correct zone for the background and then combine the images in post processing.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad