Hey there! Glad to see you back! And for those who are first-time visitors, welcome! As promised in a previous blog, here is a post about photographing in shade. In addition to letting you get to know me and showing you the images that I create, I also like to teach a thing or two. This week I’m going to talk about using shade in portrait photography. You might be asking how shade can be used effectively, especially when all photographers tend to say is, “Look for the light”. Well, to be honest, there is light in the shade. You don’t want too much light because the image will be overexposed and not enough light will cause it to be underexposed. Sometimes those are creative choices that people make and sometimes it’s because people don’t know what they are doing. Either way, I just wanted to give you a few more lighting options to consider.
First, we have what is called open shade. What the heck is open shade, you ask? It is basically where something is blocking direct sunlight from your subject without your subject actually being in a building or under some type of roof or ceiling cover. For instance, a wall, truck or even a tree can provide open shade. Below are a few portraits that I captured using open shade. In the first image, you can see where the sunlight actually begins at the bottom of the image. It was a really sunny day and it was about 11:00 in the morning. The sun was bright and we were constantly looking for shade of any type to keep them from squinting or being overexposed. In both images, I used a building to create open shade. One rule of thumb that I clearly broke in the first image, is to try to find a neutral colored surface for the sunlight to bounce off of onto your subject. Even though I used green grass, I created a white balancing profile in my camera to combat the color cast.
In this image, I was a bit more successful at using a somewhat neutral landscape to bounce the light onto.
Next, we have covered shade. If you think covered shade is when your subject is under a roof of some sort, then you are correct. In order to use covered shade effectively, it is important to know where the sun is shining. The purpose of covered shade is to allow light in without it being direct and harsh, plus it allows the light to be directional. For instance, if it is noon and you’re standing outside, more than likely the sun is shining directly down on you. This is not flattering light. A) it’s harsh; B) it shines down on you making harsh shadows under your eyes. Nobody looks good with raccoon eyes except for raccoons; C) often times your subjects will squint if they are pointed toward the sun. When you move your subject to covered shade, it automatically removes the harshness and the directness. Below are a couple of examples of covered shade. The first one was taken in my garage. Yes, you read that right…my garage. My house is south facing, therefore I get wonderful southern light that floods my garage. Usually, when I take a selfie or make a video for IG I will go in my garage because of the gorgeous light. Not only is the light favorably directed, but it is such a beautiful quality as well.
In this image, the covering was the tree canopy at the park. There were wonderful, large pockets of shade throughout the park along the tree line that I took advantage of. You can see areas where the sunlight peeked through.
Now lastly, we have overcast light. Many people think that photographing on a sunny day is much better than photographing on an overcast day, but that’s just not so. When the sky is either cloudy or overcast, the clouds act as a giant softbox, diffusing the light. I love photographing on overcast days! The light quality is generally quite beautiful. Below are two examples of this. As you can tell, I captured this image right after it rained. The thing about rain is that it makes the foliage and the pavement more vibrant looking. I found out some time ago that in movies, they sometimes spray down the area they will be filming in to make the colors of the scenery pop.
Funny enough, while capturing images of my son, it began to drizzle.
Welp, those are the three lighting scenarios when shooting outside and how to use shade effectively. I hope you have learned something new. If you have a moment, I would love for you to tell me what you thought. This was covered in my old blog but since it no longer exists, I figured I should create another one for those who want to read about it. This doesn’t cover all lighting scenarios of course. You can use reflectors and off-camera flash to get the results you want. Personally, since I normally work alone, I try to travel as lightly as I can. If there is available light, I use it to the best of my ability. So, take what you have learned and happy shooting!