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08-10-2018, 04:43 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Contrast Control in Sunlight

Here are some ideas for dealing with contrast and light challenges when outdoors and wanting some quality people shots ….

We often face a double dilemma in these situations:

1) Do we move the subject into total shade? .... (Risks dull light, colour casts from tree, brighter backgrounds causing distractions)

2) Try to use the sunlight to provide illumination, without having the subject squinting and the whole face in harsh light .... (Risks blown highlights, too dark exposure on non lit parts of face, excessive contrast across the face)

No 2 here is invariably the better one to try, as the play of sun on a subject will provide better looking light and 'modelling', rather than dull shade. The problem now is that if we expose for the sun highlights, then the other parts of the subject will go far too dark, and in fact not really be lit at all. High ISO performance is no help here at all, because your exposure is limited by the upper end of the sun highlights.

A good solution to the dilemma of No 2 is to introduce flash onto the "off-sun side", and position the subject so that the sun lights the other side, sort of like a free rim / hair / kicker light!

Here's couple of recent examples ..... I turned the subject sideways from the sun, trying to keep the sun playing nicely over her hair and left side, then I got her to turn her face to the camera. By metering for the sun highlights I ended up with a mostly darkened face ...... so I used two Cactus Rf60 flashes in tandem on a reflective umbrella positioned to the subjects right and slightly in front, pointing downwards. I used the Cactus V6II trigger in P-TTL mode, with +0.5 flash compensation, and this brought the nice soft light on to the "off-sun side", balancing the illumination from the sun on the other side.

K7 and D FA28-105mm .....








The result is, I believe, more interesting and dynamic looking lighting than could be achieved either in shade or with only the sun!
Let us know what you think, and I hope you might be encouraged to try this out also .....

Nigel


Last edited by mcgregni; 08-10-2018 at 04:59 AM.
08-10-2018, 05:22 AM   #2
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Nice explanation of the technique Nigel and certainly gives a more even light to the portrait especially in the second one. Just one comment I would make is that there is still a little visible shadow across the face in both pictures. I wonder whether angling the flash more directly or even using a reflector would eliminate them?
08-10-2018, 05:22 AM   #3
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Nice explanation of the technique Nigel and certainly gives a more even light to the portrait especially in the second one. Just one comment I would make is that there is still a little visible shadow across the face in both pictures. I wonder whether angling the flash more directly or even using a reflector would eliminate them?
08-10-2018, 06:00 AM   #4
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Hi Peter, thanks, here I am looking to emphasise the distinction between the two light sources, so I was happy to have the shadows (kind of thought it gave more interest ...?) .... But yes, I think I could get a wider and more even coverage from the flash if positioned more forwards. I'll try a reflector too next time .....

08-10-2018, 07:45 AM   #5
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Yep. In bright sun a flash can be your friend. Well done.
08-10-2018, 11:59 AM   #6
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Thanks! My friendly flashes indeed .....

I should have given the exposure details before .... F8.0 / 1/180th / ISO 200.
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