I love sharing my talented friends, and Alejandra is one talented lady! Ale and I met in Georgia (our hubbies are fraternity brothers) and although we’ve never hung out extensively because she’s now in the Southwest and I’m in the Northwest, we’ve enjoyed sharing creative ideas. So while I’m “on vacation” in the middle-of-nowhere without internets, Ale is going to share with you some of her best tips and tricks for taking great photos. To see more of her amazing creativity and photos, check out her blog Imaginale Design.
Oh sun – you trickery sun, you. There I was a few years ago, excited about the warmer weather and the sun finally making its appearance. Clearly, it only made sense to take some photos outside! Excited, camera in hand, I looked over at my friend who looked back at me with those cute squinty eyes. Harsh shadows, over exposed images, and teary eyes. In other words, not cute.
POP QUIZ TIME! That’s right people, this is how I roll…
There YOU are, camera in hand, ready to take some pictures and you arrive at this lovely courtyard. Where do you ask your model to stand?
Hmmm. Well Alejandra, I have a feeling I’m not supposed to say the sunny side because this feels like a trick question. Kind of like that trickery sun you speak of. But the shade? Well that just doesn’t make much sense!
Have you picked a side?
If the red letters and my super-genius drawing didn’t spell it out for you… not the sunny side! Or at least, not “ideally” (doesn’t mean it’s wrong).
See, there’s this thing called open shade. Open shade is basically a shaded space that is “open” to illumination from the reflection of the sunlight outside. In other words, it avoids direct sunlight, but can still light your subject via reflections. Take a look at this chart:
During those times that you are forced to shoot outside at noon, or when the sun is just too harsh for your subject to sit in it directly – find your open shade.
In fact, this courtyard is extremely ideal because of the natural reflector. Take a look at that beautiful white wall that is screaming, “Use me!! I bounce beautiful light!”
White walls/shutters/garage doors/sheets/poster boards are the BEST reflectors.
There are a few things to keep in mind:
-Certain open shade areas CAN give your photos that blue-ish tint (which is remedied by tweaking your white balance on camera or photoshop).
-The direction that your subject is facing is what makes this work! This will not work:
In fact, I had my hubs take a photo of me facing in the wrong direction like that diagram (standing in the shade and facing the shade):
Then I literally turned to face the OTHER way, so now I’m still IN the shade but I’m facing that bright, brick wall that was behind me, where the sun is shining its light….
What a difference right?! I mean, you can actually see light being reflected in my eyes without me squinting! My eyes even look lighter. And that translates to success in photography. When light is reflected in the eyes of your subject, it gives the photo life. Not only that, but it looks so much better on my skin! Keep in mind that in this particular courtyard, the wall that is reflecting the sun is a BRICK wall. So even though it’s not the ideal “white” reflector, you can clearly still use it.
So get out there and shake your fist at the sun. Two can play at that game! Find that open shade and those natural reflectors that are waiting to be used. In the mean time, the sun owes me a tan. Hmph.