Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Taming The Sun (Part 3)

The problem with direct sunlight is that it can cast harsh shadows, which is not usually the effect we're after when dealing with portrait photography. So, how can we get around this? In the last posting, I suggested that moving into the shadows, or waiting for a cloud to come over can provide an easy solution, and although that resulted in an photograph with nice soft light, we didn't have any separation from the subject and their background.
Let's look at the initial problem - bright sunlight.

Having the subject facing the sun results in deep, harsh shadows.

In the photo above, I had the subject face the sun, which is a common thing that many people will do, believing that it will light the face the most. Which it does, but it also results in harsh, deep shadows under the chin and around the eyes. You can see this in the photo above.

If you don't have an off-camera flash to control the shadows, and you're faced with a bright blue sky with the sun beating down on to your subject, then get them to turn away from the sun so that it's coming from slightly behind them. Although this will cast their face into shadow, it has the advantage that the sun will light them from behind and provide a 'rim' light which will separate them from the background. That's exactly what I did for the shot at the top of this post, with the subject positioned so that the sun is coming in from camera right, it has resulted in a rim of light down the left hand side of the subject. The face is now lit by light from the rest of the sky, which is much softer and it's a much nicer photo than the one directly above!

In the next part we'll look at how to add in a flash head to really make the subject stand out, yet still look natural.

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