As a natural light photographer there comes a time when even the best of us struggle with finding the right light. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, the direction of the light and the beauty of a location may not be cohesive, meaning in order to get good light on your subject, you must use a part of the location that’s not so pretty. Sound familiar? Learning how to make a location and the available light work for you, no matter where you are, is one of the greatest lessons you can learn as a photographer. Even now, as I travel for a living, I find myself in locations for the first time and need to be able to find the light almost immediately.
In this case with Sachi, I was photographing in her backyard at 11:00am. Later in the day this backyard, filled with chickens and bunnies and a wonderful old fence, would have been ideal. It was a challenge at 11:00am in bright sunlight. Normally, I would ask the client for a different session time, but in order to get the job done, I had to photograph when it was best for her.
After walking the property for a few minutes and taking stock of what I had to work with, I found I had one possible place to use with a little bit of shade to get a decent exposure. I photographed the spot so that you can see what I had to work with.
Using my new favorite lens, Sigma’s 24-105mm F4 DG (OS) I convinced my little 5 year old subject that this would be the perfect place to play with some of her favorite friends, the chickens… hence the image below. My settings, aperture set at f /6.3 gave me enough depth of field photographing at close range, so that the chicken and Sachi were both in focus. Shutter speed set at s 1/200, was more for the chicken than Sachi who was very cooperative and didn’t move too much with the chicken in her lap and finally my ISO set at 160. I had more than enough light and that beautiful reflective and warm light you see in her face is from the hot sun bouncing off of the white cement, my natural reflector. The low-key background is the black door you see in my image above. I gave Sachi a little stool to sit on which gave her a reason to be there.
These next three images were also taken using the same settings. This gives me the ability to talk to my little subject and capture her in between shots. Once I get set up, its time to talk and play, and the key to a successful session with any child. The sessions need to be fun in order to get a natural and playful look on your subjects little face. The beauty of photographing this way is enables your subject to move around and still get that gorgeous reflective light in her face.
Once the light had changed, meaning the sun was finally at an angle, I was able to move Sachi out into the yard. Using what was left of an old fence for shade, we changed Sachi’s clothes, a must for all female models, and created a different look and feel to the images.
The aperture was adjusted to f 7.1, to let in less light. Since the fence was so close to Sachi, I wasn’t worried about my depth of field. I also adjusted the shutter speed to s 1/250 to stop the action of the ever-moving chickens, keeping them sharp and finally the ISO was stayed at 160 for a near perfect exposure.
The final image of the session and with one more clothing change, I turned Sachi away from the sunlight using her body to create shade. The sun’s angle made this possible. It also gives your subject that wonderful “halo glow” better known as Rim light or Backlight. Once again, my settings changed to f6.3 opening up the aperture a little bit to soften the background while not letting in too much additional light. The shutter speed adjusted to s 1/400 to lessen the amount of light coming into the lens and the ISO still at 160.