Tuesday, August 18, 2015


In Part 1 I showed a more radical approach to using backlight with lens flare to create artistic images when people are Not looking at the camera.  Here in Part 2 I will show how I create portraits of…

People Looking at the Camera: This is portraiture, so this is where I exert the utmost in control of  my lighting with these techniques:
  • The Sun is Never allowed in my view finder; the direct sun is no longer my light source, open sky light is now my source. The only time I allow direct sun to touch my subjects is maybe 15 to 30 minutes before sunset.
  • My outside portraiture starts about 2 hours before sunset with my subjects in the shade.
  • There is backlight in my background—if not I use a different location
  • I use the most telephoto (the longest focal length) I can possibly use, when doing portraits, in conjunction with the widest aperture possible to create the depth-of-field I require.              

The example below is typical of my subject placement relative to the setting sun.  You can see by the hair light on Dad, and the boys around him, that the sun is pointed towards my lens.  It’s in fact, just out of frame and without additional shading my lens would be flaring badly.

f6.3 @ 1/125 sec., ISO 400, lens at 115mm
  • In addition to my lens shade I use a Gobo (or flag) to prevent any lens flare that may occur as the sun sinks close to my frame of view. This is my regular tripod/camera set-up for portraits…

I’m using the Matthews Superflex Arm clamped to my tripod with their Mafer clamp.  The “Flag” is simply a piece of black-core, Super Black, Matt Board.  The reason I need this set-up is that the standard lens shades, especially the “flower-petal” types that are cut-away for use at wide focal lengths, are simply not enough when the sun is low and just out of frame.

In my film days I used some after market bellows lens shades (Lindahl and Sailwind) that were great.  They were extendable (you could even buy extensions to make they longer), so you could adjust them to suit the focal length you were using. I continued to use them when I went digital because the Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 lens I used had a very short lens shade.  

The Exception to No Direct Sun on People.  As I said earlier the only situation where I allow direct sun on my subjects’ faces is that last warm light 15 to 30 minutes before true sunset—especially at the beach. The following image of a couple on the beach is a nice example of this type of light. It was done 30 minutes before true sunset.

f8.0 @ 1/1500 sec., ISO 400
We would start our beach sessions about 1 1/2 hours before sunset starting at areas away from the beach. Then we work our way down to the beach and use that last 30 minutes of gorgeous light doing images of our subjects walking, playing and frolicking in the surf!  Everybody gets wet (especially me) and we all have a great time on these sessions.

’Til next week…As usual, should you have questions or comments don’t hesitate…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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