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Lighting 201 Part 3: Outdoor Lighting

Lighting a subject on a sunny day By Stephen Schleicher
In the third part of our ongoing lighting series, we take a look at one method to lighting a subject on a bright sunny day.

The best part about shooting on a bright sunny day is you often dont have to use additional lighting to get a decent picture. The downside of using available light on a bright sunny day is that your subject tends to want to close their eyes to avoid the glare from the sun. Another disadvantage is your sunlight produces very hard shadows and as a principle source of illumination it is constantly moving. I cant offer any suggestions on how to stop the movement of the Sun, but I can help you out with some of those hard shadows.

In our first image we see our model in the full glory of the Sun. Even though the Sun is at a great angle for lighting the subject and the afternoon light warms the image, the subject has to squint to avoid the glare. Also notice the hard shadows that hide her face from view.

One of the first things we can do to lower the high contrast between light and shadow is to use a reflector to bounce light from the sun to the shadow side of the face. We have discussed using bounce cards as the Fill light before, so this is nothing new. However, one question you may have is, ?What kind of bounce card should we use? There are several options. The first is to use white foam core.

As the above image shows, it does an okay job of filling in the shadows.

Next would be a silver bounce card - in this case a piece of foam core covered with crumpled aluminum foil. This adds more light to the dark areas, but because the bounce card is silver, it is basically a giant mirror not so good.

I prefer to use a gold reflector that warms up the subject. In this case, I am using a 5 in 1 reflector kit I purchased on E-bay. You can usually find these in a good photography store, or through various distributors.

Place the bounce card on the side of the subject opposite your key light (Sun). You can usually mount these on C-stands or light stands, or in my case, I have an assistant hold the cards.

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