On April 23, Profoto and photographer Jared Platt will host a free webinar on how to create a beautiful light in harsh conditions. To get you in the mood for the webinar, Jared has listed 3 things every photographer should keep in mind when shooting in harsh conditions. They are, in his own words:
Most challenging lighting conditions can be overcome with just one off-camera light. The Arizona desert at high noon, can be one of the most difficult scenarios to tame, with the sun glaring down from a clear blue sky and no natural shade to be found. This is my every day situation on location.
But with some location scouting, a little attention to the sun’s position and a well placed off-camera light, a tough situation gives way to beautiful light. Below are a three simple steps to managing harsh light with a limited arsenal of lighting equipment.
1) Scout Your Location
Knowing you will not have an entire grip truck on location with an endless supply of assistants to manufacture shade and aim shiny boards, you have to find the only constant shade that is always available: the model’s own shadow. But this means, the subject must face away from the sun.
So, location scouting is critical. You must know what the light will look like at the time you will be at your location.
I advance scout every all of my shoots to ensure that I know where the sun will be in relationship to the background, so I can find a great background that allows my model to face away from the sun and thereby putting the subject in his or her own shadow. This turns a harsh sun into a beautiful hair light and the (sun-less portion of the sky into a very large and very soft fill light.
2) Expose Cautiously Hot for the Ambient Light
Once you have your subject facing away from the sun (usually with the sun behind and off to their right or left), it’s time to get your ambient exposure under control.
I keep my highlight warnings in my camera turned on and watch the crest of light on the models hair and arms to make sure I am not loosing detail in my highlights. Typically, those highlights should be pushed as far as they can go before loosing them completely (there are very few exceptions to this rule).
3) Augment the Natural Light’s Direction with Your Off-camera Light
Following the cues the light if providing as to its direction, place your light to mimic and then augment the natural light and its direction.
I prefer a larger light source, like a medium softbox, but every situation demands its own unique Light Shaping Tool. I place my medium sized softbox on the side of the model from where the light naturally spills and let the light continue to spill (from my softbox) around her body, filling in the shadows created by her own body. This can be done with smaller and larger Light Shaping Tools, which will create softer and harder wraps of light.
I follow these three simple steps anytime I find myself shooting in harsh lighting conditions like those in the Arizona desert.
In exactly one weeks time, a new webinar series titled On Location with Jared Platt will begin. In this I will be on location to turn challenging locations and circumstances into beautiful images. In our first episode, titled Beautiful Light in Harsh Conditions, we will be using only one off-camera light to overcome the difficult lighting conditions found in the harsh Arizona desert. Join us live on April 23, 2014, for behind the scenes videos, live discussions, and live Q&A.