© 2002, Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved
In actuality, our stroll through the park only took one afternoon. With
these monthly articles, however, it's taken three months to show
you what we did. I guess that one of these days I should write another
book so that you can sit down at one reading and absorb it all. Or, is
it really that you have to go out and try these things for yourself?
It's easy to read an article and say, "I know how to do that."
It's quite another thing, however, to go out and do it. I'm
reminded of that each time I read a ski magazine: I understand completely
what's being demonstrated and then go out on the slopes to try it
out. Know what I mean? So, anyway, here's the end to our afternoon
of shooting during the Asheville, North Carolina, class a few months ago.
Shoot From Dark To Light!
I posed this bride just on the outside edge of a covered porch. I had
my camera on a tripod underneath the porch, shooting out to the light.
I then turned her face until I got my regular portrait lighting on her
profile. Once I established the position of her head, I placed the body
at an angle that would give proper support to her head--a 45 degree angle
to the camera.
I opened up the shadows on the near side of her face by pointing my silver
reflector up to the sky to pick up the light and redirecting it onto her
face. No matter where I positioned the camera I was disturbed by all the
trees and light areas of the sky that kept appearing in the background.
It then dawned on me that if I placed my translucent background behind
her I could get rid of all my problems. Here you see my camera position,
the translucent panel, and the silver reflector opening up the shadows.
Pretty neat, huh?
And here is the resulting portrait.
Beautiful high-key studio portrait lighting can be done simply outdoors.
Just place your subject slightly on the outside of a covered area, put
the translucent panel behind the subject and open up the shadows slightly,
as shown here. Nothing could be easier, could it? Yes, you do need help
holding the panel in place, but it can also be held in place with a light
stand and some weights on the stand to keep the breezes from blowing it
over. Where there's a will...
While still under the porch I positioned the groom just inside the cover
and photographed his profile against the greenery behind him. Again, a
silver reflector, camera-right, picked up daylight and wrapped it around
onto the shadowed side of his face. I could even see that it lit just
the side of his face and did not overlight his right ear. See what I mean
by saying to photograph from a dark area toward the light?
The background was soft to begin with, but because of all the light areas
I softened it even more by applying Gaussian Blur to the background in
Of course, it was then a natural to position the bride in the same place
that I had just had the groom and then bring him in behind her. I focused
on her and let the groom go slightly soft.
Notice that the groom's face is turned directly into the lens, keeping
the left side of his face toward the light. The right side of his face
is being lit with the reflector. Also, see that their mouths are at approximately
the same height. This makes the photograph appear to me a little more
animated than if the heights of them were much greater.
She is actually looking toward her right slightly, so that from camera
position you can see the pupil of her right eye.
Zoom Lenses Can Work Wonders!
While I was photographing the bride and groom I noticed the grandmother
talking with her grandchildren. I didn't have to do a thing, except
zoom all the way to the full 135mm focal point of my 28-135mm lens on
my Canon D60. I did sug-gest to the grandmother how to
pose her feet. Other-wise it was a completely natural picture.
The late afternoon light--backlighting and sidelighting them all--was
perfect light for separating them from the background. The solid greenery
behind them couldn't have been more appropriate. All available light.
No light controls were necessary.
Wow! Switching between the close-up portraits and the full-length of
the group was just a matter of a slight twist of the wrist...and look
at the difference!
While I was working with the family again I decided to try a close-up
of them all together. I seated them on the steps leading up to the cabin.
That gave me the ability to keep their heads at varying heights, making
the composition more interesting. Instead of having them look self-consciously
into the lens, I had them looking at each other--again going for specific
facial angles. More importantly, going for expressions and a close feeling
of family. My white background behind them cut out distracting elements.
Seeing The Finished Picture Before Even Placing The Subjects...
As we were walking I looked up and saw this "hollow" that
just cried out for a person to be sitting there. The framework of the
tree, the rocks in the foreground, and the background of the trees far
behind were just too much for me to resist. I could just see someone seated
there on the rock. One of the photographers volunteered to pose.
I kept his body at a 45 degree
angle to the camera and turned his head to profile. The late afternoon
sunlight could not have been in a better position.
The last picture of the day just "happened" as I was crossing
a bridge on the way back to our cars. I looked down at that stream, at
that rock, and heard a voice calling out to me.
I had the bride position herself on the rock, kept her body at a 45
degree angle to me and turned her head to profile. It was just
a little late to get the light onto her profile, but I knew that it was
still working for me. I would have loved to have had her facing the other
direction into the picture but the light didn't work when she was
facing away from the light source. Not perfect, but still okay.
Quite a day, wouldn't you say? We were all happily exhausted when
we got back to the parking lot. Hopefully, all the photographers in the
class and you, the reader, know a little more about how to find the light
and how to take advantage of it.
Just for fun: here's the group who were a part of the Asheville
class. I promised to publish their picture at the end of this story, since
they were all so much a part of it.
By the way, what might be my final classes are still open for photographers
who may want to participate. Next year I may be doing other assignments
on location that could take up most of my time. Anyway, here are the dates
and the places of the two remaining classes: Whitewater, Wisconsin, September
23-27, and Sarasota, Florida, November 10-14. E-mail me for more information