I will use the last blog post on Kalli and Javier’s blog post as the subject of natural light photography, in this article. Since I knew we would be pretty mobile and walking on terrain to get to our shooting locations, I wanted to travel as lightly as possible, and not bring lighting etc. We had one thing going for us, we were at the time of day that was approaching the golden hour, as in the final hour or so of daylight, a much less harsh sun than midday. The photos of them sitting in under the trees, they had direct sunlight on their faces, but had them relax and shut their eyes, and open them before I started shooting, this way I get less squinting. The key is not to take all day, lol. The sun was shining in their direction and the light was golden, and not causing shadowing on their faces. That time of day, I often drop my white balance color temperature so the light is still golden but not so yellow. In normal outdoor conditions I use 5200-55o0 depending on the subjects and surroundings, which is the kelvin temperature of the sun…I may drop it to 4900 or 5000 in this setting, so it’s less post work. The quality of light improves, but the temperature also changes, and when the sun is going down, you have a very short window of time to capture that magical light….and settings can change in a matter of seconds.
If you like some funky lens flare of hazy lighting, that can be fun for some of the photos….but I’d never do a whole session like that. Traditional photographers usually consider that a flaw in a photo, but many find it to make the mood of the photo different and interesting, but similar to using light, it too should be controlled. That’s your job as a photographer. I kindof like it when paths of sunlight shine through trees, and using that to create a halo of light around the subject(s) and some dreamy haze or flare, but not throughout the whole frame of the photo. In which case, I line myself up to that path of light and I can use my reflector to light the subjects a little so there isn’t as much contrast between the high key background, and the exposure of the subjects. It’s about control, or else it’s just bad photography. There is a liberating feeling to going unplugged sometimes, the focus is more about controlling the light that’s available, and not setting up my lights, though there are times and places for either occasion or method.My histogram would tell me in a case like that when exposed correctly that my highlights are slightly overexposed, and the subjects slightly under, but the presence of a reflector helps balance that out and still you get that nice contrast and dramatic dreamy sun shaping the mood of the photo.
In the photo below, I relied on the haze of the sun to create that peaceful dreamy feel of the photos….as if to say their world stopped, since they were together and time stood still. Time wasn’t a factor. Their cell phones weren’t a factor. Nor were the negativity of the news and current events. This is something people still imagine and love to see, and some aren’t lucky enough to actually feel it. The halo of light around them was a result of me shooting in the direction of the sun, off to the side some, to avoid blowout. If you wanted no haze, and a normally exposed photograph, face them the other way and shoot from the sun’s side. Isn’t that cooler than doing it in Photoshop? Lastly, when you get in shaded areas, itmay be necessary to bump your kelvin WB to 6000 or so, because without direct light, it is likely to be cold in temperature….the boat photos were like that, and I shot 400 ISO and wider aperture to let more light in. In the presence of foliage or grass, some magenta in post production or white balance compensation may be necessary, or simply do a custom white balance, to avoid green spill. I really love this photo not only because of it’s mood, but simplicity and composition and the vanishing perspective of the dock….and the couple looks so well connected. Stay connected and be one with the light. Don’t fear it, but understand it and when you know how it works, you can control it and work with it, instead of fight it.