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06-30-2010, 05:12 AM   #1
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Outdoor Lighting questions.

I know that it's recommended that if your shooting outside in the middle of the day, you should try to get your subject into the shade, so you don't get any harsh shadows. I've also read that it's not recommended ideal shooting conditions if it's a gray overcast day. What's the difference between being in the shade, and shooting on a gray overcast day? How is the lighting different? (if it is at all) Also I've heard people say to use a hand held defuser to help with harsh light. Can someone point me to a link to one of these? I looked on E-Bay, but didn't see anything, but maybe I just don't know the correct search parameters.

06-30-2010, 07:07 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by eccs19 Quote
I know that it's recommended that if your shooting outside in the middle of the day, you should try to get your subject into the shade, so you don't get any harsh shadows. I've also read that it's not recommended ideal shooting conditions if it's a gray overcast day. What's the difference between being in the shade, and shooting on a gray overcast day? How is the lighting different? (if it is at all) Also I've heard people say to use a hand held defuser to help with harsh light. Can someone point me to a link to one of these? I looked on E-Bay, but didn't see anything, but maybe I just don't know the correct search parameters.
Really loaded questions.

First, a grey overcast day can be just fine, since it's filtering and softening sunlight. Next, I never heard of shooting in the shade. You shoot what you want to shoot, whether it's in the shade or not. Finally, a diffuser is used with artificial light generally--not ambient outdoor light.
06-30-2010, 07:57 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by eccs19 Quote
I know that it's recommended that if your shooting outside in the middle of the day, you should try to get your subject into the shade, so you don't get any harsh shadows. I've also read that it's not recommended ideal shooting conditions if it's a gray overcast day. What's the difference between being in the shade, and shooting on a gray overcast day? How is the lighting different? (if it is at all) Also I've heard people say to use a hand held defuser to help with harsh light. Can someone point me to a link to one of these? I looked on E-Bay, but didn't see anything, but maybe I just don't know the correct search parameters.
Don't bother reading links on the internet. Go out and shoot on a cloudy day, in the shade, at dusk, at dawn.....

THAT is the best way to learn!
06-30-2010, 08:54 AM   #4
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In the shade, the light will be softer, and generally bluer toned.

A big diffuser, like a bed sheet, is used all the time in movies outdoors to soften the direct sunlight. You can do the same.

Shooting on overcast days produces soft shadows, and white or gray skies. Try to find a nicer background.

06-30-2010, 09:07 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info. I just wasn't sure if there was any advantage to shooting in shade vs shooting on an overcast day. Bed sheets not a bad idea, as long as I'm still not using it.
06-30-2010, 09:15 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by eccs19 Quote
Thanks for the info. I just wasn't sure if there was any advantage to shooting in shade vs shooting on an overcast day. Bed sheets not a bad idea, as long as I'm still not using it.
If you're doing a set-up portrait shot, there's a lot you can do. In addition to a sheet. you can use a white material on the opposite side of the sun to bounce light back onto the subject and reduce shadows.

But usually, we just get out there and shoot, and leave the sheets on the bed.
06-30-2010, 10:20 AM   #7
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Shade and overcast are extremely similar - in both cases, light comes form the entire sky and is very soft and diffuse. It just might be more strongly blue in the shade because the sky is blue.

Shade isn't inherently better than sun; it just has certain advantages in certain situations (whereas full son has *other* advantages in *other* situations). Same for overcast. i'm guessing whoever recommend shooting in the shade was thinking fo the situations where that kind of light is advantageous, and whoever recommended avoiding overcast days was thinking of *different* situations where that same kind of light is *not* advantageous. It all comes down to whether your composition would be improved by a storng sense of light and shadow or not. Some are, some aren't.

Portraits are generally considered best with soft light - either shade or overcast. But actually, on it's own it's usually *too* soft and non-directional. Most people prefer to have some sense of the direction of light and present but soft shadows. So whether in the shade or an overcast day, a secondary light source to add direction can be nice. On sunny days, a reflector positioned in direct sun can provide that - but you can't get that on an overcast day.
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