Outdoor photo shoots are an amateur photographer’s worst nightmare. While out in the open, a photographer is vulnerable to every change imaginable. Wind gusts, temperature changes and worst of all, erratic lighting.
Last weekend, we caught up with award-winning photographer and lighting pro Tony Corbell before his creativeLIVE course to ask him for a few tips on working with available/ambient light.
Here is his short list that will guide you towards taking fantastic shots even in terrible lighting conditions:
1) Working in direct sunlight
Try to keep in mind that in the studio the subject is stationary and the light moves around the set until you get just the right light quality. However, when you move outside of the studio, often the light is stationary and you move the subject around until the light is just right.
2) Light Quality
I always break down light quality into four categories: Additive, Subtractive, Transmission and Reflective. Each of these four elements combine to give shape form texture and dimension in your work.
3) Light Quantity
Gaining a full understanding of exposure is more than just the density of the scene. It also has to do with the complete range of contrast that can be held by your paper of choice. In other words, while your camera can see 8-10 stops or range of light, your paper may only be able to print detail in 4-5 stops of light. Its yet another element of our craft for which you are responsible.
Exclusive TPA clip of Tony at work on location.
4) Light Direction
The angle or direction of light has a lot to do with the depth created in your pictures. The creation of shadows and highlights are directly tied to the depth and essentially, the drama in your image. As light travels further away from the camera, obviously the shadows play a more important role. Highlight and shadows are tied together completely.
5) Working Throughout the Day
Most photographers who create portraits outdoors prefer to work late in the day in order to produce warm, soft lit images. However, you are severely limited in the number of sessions you can create in any given week. By controlling the light, sunlight ambient light or flash, appropriately, you have the ability to make any time of today look like it was late afternoon with light warmth and softness.