Last week I wrote about leading the first of a two-day lighting workshop. We began that session by studying portraiture lighting in the studio, and learning how to shape flash by using a variety of light modifiers.
The second session was about applying what we learned in the subdued light of the studio by taking the flash outdoors into bright daylight.
The October day was cool and everyone had to dress warmer, but that didn’t slow the group down the least bit.
The rural location we were at was perfect. We began in a large, well-lit, open barn and at first used a 30-inch, shoot-through umbrella and reflector, and then a large six-foot shoot-through umbrella with double speedlights for an even broader light. After that we moved to an open field and had our model pose on the hood of and old Cadillac. At that location we began by using a bare flash, and then switched to a shoot-through umbrella.
We later wandered down to a tree-lined stream with our model to take advantage of the colourful autumn leaves, and again used a flash and added a gold reflector.
In the afternoon the light began to drop. So we carried our lights and reflectors up and across the meadow and had our model on a wood rail fence in the cool open shade.
Creative outdoor portraiture is so much more than just pointing a camera at a willing subject standing in the sunlight. And using off-camera flash is usually much more interesting (and flattering) than perching an automatic flash on a camera when it’s too dark to take pictures.
Since I began last week’s article with a quote by photographer and lighting guru David Hobby, I thought I quote him again and end with what he wrote about using flash in the bright sun, that to my mind fits perfectly with last Sunday’s outdoor flash workshop.
Hobby wrote, “Controlling harsh, natural light – one of the most important things to know as a shooter is how to use bad light well. Taking hard, nasty daylight and turning it into beautiful light is actually pretty easy.”