Last August I wrote about setting up an outdoors studio in the meadow on the south side of my home for my friend Joleen McAvany. Readers will remember that Jo wanted to do a “Disney Princess” session with some of her friends.
Jo posted her studio-like photographs from that day online. Her photos were so successful that I decided to offer another how-to workshop.
I limited participation to four interested photographers and Jo easily talked two of her friends into braving the cool October day to be our models.
I like flash and never pass by an opportunity to introduce photographers that normally would only use flash in dimly lighted rooms, to the advantage of employing flash in the daylight.
Jo and I set up both a white canvas backdrop and a painted blue/grey canvas backdrop. I had purchased the painted canvas, but the white canvas was formally a large painters ground cloth spattered with paint that I got for free.
I attached several older 1970 vintage flashes on light stands with umbrellas. All were connected to wireless receivers and I gave a trigger to each photographer.
My lecture was about balancing the light from the flash with the ambient light. The key light (main light) that modeled the features of our ever-patient subjects, Morgan and Cora came from the flashes, not the sun.
Jo gave a posing demo using a 60mm, then a 70-180mm and finally a 400mm lens as she positioned each model in turn. Then after showing everyone how effective the long lenses were, and how easily it is to control the flashes, I positioned each depending on the light.
I then let the attending photographers experiment and learn as I showed them how great their photos could be using flash in the daylight.
Most had seen some of Jo’s “Princess” photos and I reminded them that she had originally asked me, “can I do this out-of-doors and still create flattering studio kind of light portraits?”
Now I have introduced four more photographers to using flash as a creative tool instead of just something that brightens a dimly lighted room or gives a flat light on some subject’s face that is standing in the shade.
I am left wondering if they will start using flash. It is so easy to be lazy and leave the flash at home on a sunny day. However, the resulting photographs where one controls the light and is able to place it to flatter and model a subjects face should be enough to convince any serious photographer.
I would like to think I was successful in convincing those four photographers that adding the light from a flash will make their photographs stand out among photographers that depend on the inconsistent light from the sun.
Note: Photos by Joleen McAvany