Friday, October 31, 2008

under the shade

Perhaps the trickiest of the lighting condition when it comes to daylight shooting would be that of shooting under the shade. In daylight shooting, you may either shoot under a direct sunlight, under a cloudy sky or under a shade. When we speak of daylight, we mean the combination of sunlight and skylight. Both should combine to produce daylight. Shooting under a shade means you are either surrounded by trees and leaves with some or few streaks of sunlight creeping in in some instances. That's what makes it tricky and based on my experience, shooting without fill in flash won't give you any exciting results or output.

This is where the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) comes in handy again where the artificial light from the mini strobes would fill in light on the shadows on the head or facial portion of your subject. Without the fill in light, you will lose a lot of details on the eyes and other depressed contours of your subject making your portraits flat and lifeless. Of course, you can still remedy the situation but you have to be good in your photoshop skills and this would entail time in post processing. If you want to avoid any fancy retouching, you might as well use the extra light to lighten up your subject.

It is not necessary that you have to flood your subject with excessive light from numerous speedlights. Even a single mini strobe or speedlight can give you a desirable output if you know where to strategically place your light source. A good portrait doesn't require sufficient light to make it good. It only needs a quality light to make it interesting. I shun away from using reflectors because they create uneven skin tone. A diffused light looks more natural and taming the light from your speedlight may require you to either use a shoot through umbrella or a soft box and in the sample photos, I just used a Sto-fen diffuser.

Another camera setting to look out when shooting under a shade is choosing your White Balance and Picture Control. In the sample photos, I experimented using the Vivid Picture Control and the Daylight White Balance. It turned out that the colors are richer but I personally prefer the more natural look so I made some adjustments in Capture NX, the supplied photo-editing software of Nikon. If you are shooting in RAW, you can easily change your choice of settings but you won't learn to trust your instinct if you always rely on RAW adjustments every time you take pictures. It's better to train your eyes and judgmental call and let your mind decide on what settings you would fix on your camera. It is an accumulation of years of practice and experimenting before you can intuitively trust your judgment.

Photography is indeed a challenging travail but in order to get good pictures, you should know your camera by heart. And there's no better way to learn photography except to shoot regularly. And there's no better way to entice yourself to shoot periodically except picking what you like shooting the most. In my case, I get more inspiration when I do portraits of woman. And thanks to Sarah Josef for her patience and for being a good sport.

Make-up credit is given to King Pacifico. Without her, I wouldn't have the chance to shoot Sarah. All photos were taken by a Nikon D300 fitted with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF. Nikon SB-600 with Sto-fen attached was used as an artificial light source. Thanks to you, Vince, for lending me your speedlight.

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