Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Our most requested, popular and profitable portrait sessions are the outdoor sessions in the fall.  That’s great, but that season—September, October and November—is not enough to sustain a full time photography business.  So, I learned, over twenty years ago, from several great Master Portrait Photographers, how to extend the fall season look.  They taught me that it’s all about subject placement and time of day.

 Captured: In June @7:41pm. Exposure: f6.3 @ 1/125th sec., ISO 800
As long as there are leaves on the trees I can create the look of fall colors in my backgrounds throughout much of the year. Even here in Idaho I’ve done this as early as February!

You MUST control these two things to create the fall colors out of season:
  • Session Time of Day:  BACKLIGHT is the key to creating a warm glow in the background caused by the setting sun shinning through green leaves.  The later the session the warmer the glow. In early summer I can get a nice yellow glow, from green leaves, two-hours before sunset.

In my February example below, I used some evergreen trees with strong backlight a half-hour before sunset.
Captured: In February @ 6.07pm. Exposure: f4.5 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 800
Note:  If I don’t have that glow in the background I don’t use that location; at least not at that time. Backgrounds that have no light are Dead Backgrounds; I don’t like that look so I don’t use them.

  • Subject Placement:  Once you’ve established when your location has great backlight you need to place your subject(s) so that their heads are against the light in the background.  This creates not just visual interest, but also separation of your subjects from the background.                            
  • I do whatever it takes to place my subjects against the light. If when they’re sitting I have no backlight, I’ll stand them. This is why we usually bring our posing rocks on outdoor sessions—to elevate the group. With our rocks we can combine people sitting and standing without their heads being too far apart.

In this example below we placed the young lady on the top of a picnic table to get her layered against the best part of the background.

Captured: In June @ 7:45pm. Exposure:  f4.5 @ 1/250th sec. ISO 400
As usual should you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask…’Til next week.

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

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