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Thread: Outside lighting for family and couple shoots

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    Outside lighting for family and couple shoots

    When doing a series of shots e.g. for a family or a couple session where you are quickly moving through a number of poses in slightly different locations and natural lighting, what is your general approach to lighting? I shoot by myself, so do not have an assistant to carry around off-camera lighting. And when young children, in particular, are involved, one needs to move quickly to take the shots. In general, I will aim to either have the subjects in full and/backs to the sun. In these types of situations, do you primarily rely on natural lighting; or would you use flash? If you would prefer to use flash to supplement the natural light, do you use it as "fill" (e.g. either dialled down flash or with camera set to aperture priority), or do you use off camera flash? If the latter, how do you position the flash (stand, cord, etc)?

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    I try not to shoot people with them facing bright sunlight, because they often squint. If using the ambient light to backlight your subjects, you will need some fill light, and if the backlighting is strong, you may need alot of flash power to fight the sun. If I have to shoot people with strong backlighting, I will usually underexpose the ambient light with a faster shutter speed and use high speed sync or stop down a little depending on background. Sometimes on camera if there is little to no nearby background, sometimes off camera directly or with a softbox it all depends on environment and ambient light you are dealing with.
    If you can't break the sync speed of your camera or if you don't have high speed sync capability, or if you don't want to stop down and need to use a wide aperture, I sometimes will use an ND filter to block incoming ambient light, but then you will also be blocking your incoming strobe light, so you will need even more power and usually an onboard flash isn't going to cut it and speedlights often struggle too. Remember the inverse square law when considering the position of your flash, just 1/2 metre could mean the difference..

    When I am struggling for light power with the speedlight, I will bring out the big Ranger, 1100ws of synthetic lightning!

    It can also be possible to just use a reflector held on a stand with a reflector holder, again depending upon the light.
    Last edited by Wayne; 06-02-2012 at 10:18am.

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    depends. depends on the light, the location and the subject matter....I use a simple off camera flash in a brolly, and a reflector etc, even if Im the only one shooting sometimes there is someone there to at least hold a reflector. The off camera speedlight and brolly is portable and easy to move about....but If Im on a beach etc then its just natural light, typically backlit with fill flash as Wayne rightly points out them looking at the sun is going to cause squinting
    Darren
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    Thank you both for the time taken to reply. HSS is a great idea. I will trial using a mobile version of off-camera flash on a stand for portraits. However, I was particularly interested in lighting subjects on the move, so HSS works well as an option. I would try to avoid strong backlighting for the reasons you have outlined. If using on-camera flash as "fill", do you use ETTL and aperture priority; or various modes and ETTL and adjust FEC to taste?


    Just tried the HSS with ambient dialled down two stops - looks great. I have dialled down the ambient for interior/night time shots, but hadn't thought to try it outside in daylight.

    Thanks again for your time.
    Last edited by sufran; 06-02-2012 at 2:38pm.

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    Glad you are on the way to working it out.

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