Tuesday, December 29, 2015


This little outdoor session lasted exactly 3 minutes and 34 seconds. I managed 11 images total and then this little guy was done

We had just finished a standard studio session that lasted about 20 minutes. So, I was happy to get anything outdoors! 

This is just one of many reasons why using the subtractive method to control natural light outdoors is so superior to any other method; children won’t wait for you to set-up your “gear”!  While you are messing around with setting-up your speed lights and soft box or even trying to use reflectors, you can easily miss the moment—that very short window of opportunity when the child will work with you.

The other reason is that Subtractive Natural Light can do this…

f4.5 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 400, Lens @ 200mm
This is why I call subtractive natural light, “The Best Light Money Can’t Buy!”

This particular morning, just before Christmas, it was 19ºF with snow on the ground and we had fully overcast sky.  So the light here, in my backyard, was flat and directionless; the worst kind of natural light.  To create direction and give my little subject a shadow side on his face I would usually use a Gobo (a black flat or flag as we called then in the world of cinematography) on one side to block unwanted light. 

There was no time to grab anything but my camera as his mom was helping him into his coat and saying, “Let’s go outside and play in the snow!” Fortunately, we have a porch with a nice overhang just out of our back door that I knew could be my overhead and side gobos to create a directional lighting pattern (even though I had never used my porch for portraits up to this moment!).

All I had to do now was get Beau out of the backyard snow and back on the porch, in the right spot, for a clean background!

Here’s my porch…Complete with the clutter of furniture and my barbeque that I had no time to move, and me taking an incident light meter reading, where I placed him for the portrait.

This was about as simple as it can be when using existing objects to act as gobos to control the light.

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask…’Til next week.

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

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