Archive | June 2012

Photographing People in a Harsh Lighting

Have you ever been on vacation or just out photographing people and noticed how harsh the sunlight is? Many people have gone through this issue, whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur. What most people do is photograph everyone facing the sun, but then you get the issue of having people squinting and your end product is ‘barely there eyes’. A way to work with the harsh sunlight is by using flash, reflectors, or natural reflectors.

When  it comes to using flash, you can have your pop-up flash released or have a hot-shoe flash pointing directly at the subject. The flash will need to be powerful enough to fill the background light. Good thing that cameras have an automatic setting. Having it on automatic for the pop-up flash will read the lighting of the subject and the surroundings of the subject in order finding the right power to emit the flash for your image. If you have a hot-shoe flash attached to your camera, you have the settings ttl or i-ttl. This will do the same thing as a pop-up flash would, but it is just a bit stronger.

If you want an alternative instead of using flash, you may use reflectors. Reflectors usually have different colors (white, silver, gold) and you can either purchase them individually or purchase them in a kit. When purchasing them in a kit, you usually get all the colors available to you. To use the reflectors, it is as simple as moving the reflector in front or to the side of the subject until you see the subject’s face being filled with more light. Here are the differences between the different colors: white-more natural soft fill light (needs to be placed close to the subject), silver-is a strong reflector and can fill the images at low-light situation or at further distance from the subject, gold-casts a very strong warm light to the subject (great for sunset photos). Reflectors also have a black side, but that is not really a reflector. Black reflectors are usually used to cast shadows to the subject, so it is not great for a fill light.

The last alternative is natural reflectors. Natural reflectors are as simple as reflectors you find at the environment caused by the sunlight and an object. For example: if you are photographing people in front of a building and there are other buildings across from them, you may face the people against the harsh sunlight and use the opposite buildings as a natural reflector. Natural reflectors can be as easy as sunlight bouncing off the sidewalk, street, or floor and lighting up your subject.