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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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05.07.12         photographers case study  

Photographers Case Study: Uneven Shade Portraits With Fill


While I was in Emmett, Idaho last week, my good friend Kearstin mentioned to me that she had been asked by a friend to take some prom images, that she was a little nervous, and wanted me to tag along in case "something bad" happened. Kearstin has 4 kids and doesn't have a lot of time to shoot, but typically she does great. In any event, I thought I would go along just in case.

Im glad I went, because the location where these portraits were to take place were not ideal: there were lots of trees, and being a very sunny day, it produced a tremendous amount of uneven shade. (We are talking about the very splotchy type of shade that is unflattering). There was one very large, thick tree that gave some good even shade, but that was it.

Luckily we had about 15 minutes to walk around before the couples showed up and we did a few test shots. We also had a some open fields and a barn, but this was in direct sunlight, and with a larger group it might be ok, but not so much for individual couples. So the question was "What can we do to get some really great couple portraits?"

We agreed that we would start off with something really plain, aka "The Safe Shot" meaning that it was very typical, nothing too fancy and at least we would be covered if we ran out of time. These shots would be happening in the complete shade of the one tree, pretty basic:
Once we got those, and getting a little more daring, I recommended the following, and because it worked so well, I will recommend it here:

1. You can create even shade for your subjects, even in direct sunlight, by having your subjects turn their backs to the sun and then just use a touch of fill flash to even it out.
2. Use trees and vegetation to help block some of the sun, but still allow for a nice lens flare.


You will have to do it in manual mode to get it right, as well as play with the Flash Exposure Compensation. Not the easiest shot, but it works....and it looks pretty good too.

I was able to talk a few of the couples into playing around a little, and these are my favorites, I think being a little silly makes for such better pictures. :)
This was also important for me because it was the first time I used my Canon 5Diii with a Canon 600 Ex-RT Speedlite .

Shot in Manual Mode, f4.0, 1/100-1/125, ISO 400, processed with Michael Andrew Paintballer Pro ® Presets

While I cover shooting into direct sun on my Advanced Photography Techniques DVD, the principle is also covered in my Lighting Crash Course .

Production on the Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Crash Course Training Tutorial DVD Video is already underway and I suspect this exact technique will get its own lesson on the course. I have some reviews coming soon on the 600, it is a tremendously nice little flash. (Just wish it wasn't so expensive!)

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