Controlling Ambient Light
We are now out in the very, very bright and harsh Arizona sun, I can barely see anything actually. And what we're going to do is learn to control this light, because right now the shadows are just really, really nasty. And so the way we're gonna do this is I have Sidney over here. She is in a pocket of bright sunlight, and the shadows on her are nasty, her hair is a different exposure than her arm. It's like, everything is wrong. And so what I'm gonna do is I'm shooting with the 70 to 200 2.8 lens, and I'm using that to get nice compression, to sort of get rid of some of the distractions. I wanna narrow the angle of view a little bit. So I'm gonna come here and I'm gonna take my first shot. And so I'm in aperture priority mode at 2.8 at ISO 100, I'm letting my camera calculate my shutter speed. And so Sidney is just in a place that has no light modifications whatsoever. And I'm gonna take a photo, click. And when we look at this photo, it is just not very good. Now, a couple of things ...
when working out in bright sunlight. I cannot tell if my exposure is correct or not by looking at my laptop or my screen, because it is so bright out here, that I can't really even see the screen. And so it's gonna look underexposed when you're shooting in really bright sunlight. So what I need to do is I need to turn on my histogram on the back of my camera and judge my exposure by my histogram, that's a really important thing. Also, in Lightroom over here, you can see that I have my histogram turned on. I'm gonna use that to judge if my exposure is correct or not, I'm not going to trust my eyes because my screen is always gonna look too dark in a really, really bright environment like this. And I don't know if you can tell, but it's really bright out here. So, what we're gonna do is I could try to change things. And so Sidney, I want you to just walk forward a little bit, there's this little pocket of shade. So keep coming, right? Stop right there. Okay, so she's in natural shade right now. And then I want you to move this way just a bit. All right, so I'm looking for a background that is a little bit darker than where she's standing, and I can try shooting that. (camera shutters) And then when we look at this picture, I'm gonna look into my eye piece. And that looks pretty good to me when I'm just looking through... It looks okay. So I've just put her in shade. And that's the first thing that we would do if we're shooting out in an environment like this, is just look for shade. But let's pretend we don't have any shade. So go back to that sunny nasty patch that you were just in. So right about there, yeah. So now she's back in this really horrible place. I'm gonna take another photo, just so we can see what that looks like. And you can see when we look at this photo, there it is. Yeah, the exposure is all wacky. The light is not very complimentary. So what we need to do is we need to make our own shade. So Chris, come on out. Chris has a diffusion panel. This is made by California Sunbounce, it's called a Sun-Swatter Mini, I believe. It's the small version, if you can believe that. And so what I want, Chris, what I want you to do is I want you to make sure that she is completely in shade. So he's gonna move that around and make sure that from head to toe, as much as possible, all of Sidney is in shade. And then now what we can do is we can move Sidney wherever you want, 'cause we've made our shade ourselves. So Sidney, I want you to move this way, just a hair. I'm looking at the background, and I'm shooting at 2.8 with the long lens to try to blur the background out, so that we don't see what's on the porch, which is a TV and some other things there. And so this looks pretty good. And then, there you go. Hold it, chin down just a little bit. Beautiful, all right, so now what I'm going to do, is I'm just gonna take a peek at this on my computer. It looks like the exposure is decent. It might be a little underexposed but I can't tell. It's enough that I can go in here to post-production on Raw, and change if I need to change anything. But one thing I am noticing is on, oops, this side of Sidney, we have sort of a bright shoulder over here. And I'll take my tethered bar down. And this side, it's sort of dark. And so we are not seeing a lot of stuff inside these shadows here. I'd like to kick a little bit more light onto Sidney so that she's even brighter than this background. And so we can do that by bouncing some light. And so we have a giant reflector. This is a California Sunbounce. It's about five and a half feet. Don't fall in the pool, whatever you do. So behind there is Lexi. I don't know if you can see her, but I think she's totally blocked. So what I'm gonna do, she cannot see around this. If you can't see her, she can't see what's going on. So she's gonna look for the sun, and of course, the sun just went behind the tree as... Okay, right there is good, so for bouncing. Can you move even farther that way? Yes, take a couple steps along the edge of the pool. There we go. And something like this. We're gonna try that. So I'm moving it, 'cause she cannot see what's happening. And then Chris, the other thing that I've noticed is, sometimes the top of Sidney's head has some sun on it. So Chris has to really watch to make sure that that's fully covered. So, bring that a little bit higher and over, Chris, there you go. And now I'm gonna see if I can shoot in this pocket of shade that we've made, and so that looks so much better. So we're gonna make this a little bit tighter, Sidney. So give me arms sort of like this. There we go. There we go. And I'm gonna try to get this angle right, beautiful. Just lean that back. There you go, stop right there. Good, good. (camera shutters) Just like that. We're gonna do a couple more. So the sun just came out, (camera shutters) and then, excellent. Turn that a little bit this way. Other way, other way. Yep, and then bring the front edge of that back. There you go. There we go. Chris, the top of her head needs to have some more shade, and excellent. That's what we're going for. Put your arm back up, please. There you go. (camera shutters) And I'm shooting slow, 'cause I have to look at every single thing. The issue with this is, Chris and Lexi can't see what they're doing. So they're holding stuff. They can't necessarily... So Chris, can't see the opposite side of Sidney, and Lexi can't see Sidney at all. And so the only way for them to know what to do is for me to tell them. Some of the ways to do this is just to come out and move things and do that. It's a lot easier than to trying to be like clockwise, counterclockwise, do this, do that. And then just being like this. Chris, that looks fantastic. We're gonna take another shot here. And I'm gonna get as far back as I can and zoom in as much as I can to narrow the angle of view. And so that's what we want, Sidney, just like that. (camera shutters) I'm gonna go down a little bit to try to get rid of some of the, (camera shutters) some of the pool. I mean the porch furniture. There we go. (camera shutters) Okay, that I think looks good. I cannot tell until I come over and I look at this histogram. It looks good. There's a little bit too much headroom. The other thing that might happen is if we have a lot of sun coming into Sidney's eyes, it's so blinding that her eyes are gonna water. So what we're gonna do is, I'm gonna first try to get too much sun in here. So something like that, is that blinding? Yeah, no?
Okay, well that's as blinding as we can get 'cause the sun just went behind a tree, of course. And then what I'm gonna do here is, I am going to count to three. So Sidney, you can rest your eyes. So her eyes are rested. I'm gonna zoom in here as much as I possibly can, getting back little ways. Can you give me arms that are a little bit more tight? There you go. There you go. And then on the count of three, one, two, three. (camera shutters) There we go. (camera shutters) That way, if you have a model whose eyes are watering, you can work with that. Okay, so, what did we do to control the ambient light? The first thing we did is we looked to find some shade, 'cause the difference between me here, really, really black, and me here, sort of underexposed, is that here at shade, it could be like one or two stops of light. I think Matt is probably frustrated with me right now, jumping in and out while he's trying to control the camera. So that's gonna do that. It's also natural, soft diffused light. So if you don't have shade, get anything that you can to create shade. You can use translucent umbrellas. You can use a Sun-Swatter like this. You can use a big piece of cardboard. It doesn't matter. Just try to get something that creates shade. We use the Sun-Swatter because it not only creates shade, but also diffuses the light, which makes it nice and soft. It's like having a nice soft box over the top of Sidney. And then instead of a flash, we use the silver reflector to bounce light into Sidney's face. In fact, I'm gonna try to change something really quickly. I'm gonna grab this from you. If you can go grab that 5-in-1 silver reflector as fast as possible. I'm gonna move this outta the way, and we're gonna try something a little bit different. Instead of a big, big reflector, what we're gonna do is we have lost the light. That's the crazy thing, we have lost the light here. We're gonna see if we can bounce some light right over here into Sidney's face. And so doing that, we have more focused light just in one spot. Okay, so lemme grab this from you. And then Sidney go back a little bit, go back even more. There you go. So you can see here how I'm just really adding some light. And so, that's what we're gonna do. So Lexi, come on over here. So the trick with this is... Come right here so you can see what I'm doing, is if you look on the ground first, you can see where your reflection is, you can see what you're doing. Then you get it at the model's feet, and then just bring it up until you have it on their face. And then try to get it as high as possible, so that the light isn't coming underneath the chin. So something like this. So Lexi, that's what I'm gonna have you try to do, is to try to get that. Don't fall in the pool please. And we're gonna see if that gives us a little bit different look. Try to get that on her face. And then we're still gonna have shade. So Chris, if you can still try to shade her as much as possible. We're just gonna work with this ambient light. And what you'll see... So try to cheat into that light, Sidney, like it's a key light. There you go. (camera shutters) There you go. (camera shutters) And now it's blinding you, right? Okay, we're gonna do the one, two, three thing. So I want you to look at the reflector, close your eyes. 1, 2, 3, (camera shutters) click, click, click. Okay, now, what you can see, you can all relax, is what we've done. We have really taken this light and made it just right on Sidney. Now, one of the things is, on this you can see that the light is a little bit too low. Just a little bit of movement, the light went from her face down on her body. And so that's why I'm taking multiple shots. The other thing that you'll notice is with this light, 'cause it's so much brighter, the background just went into oblivion. So we lost the background. And we don't want that. We wanna keep those things balanced. So sometimes, if you're using too much of a reflector, it's gonna light your model so much that it's like the camera is gonna expose that really bright model, the background's gonna fall into darkness. Now, I don't know how darkness this is because I can't see, I just can see a histogram, but it looks to me like she's exposed and the background is way underexposed. So the thing that we might do in that situation is take this reflector, and we'll use the white side of that instead. So try the same thing, but use white side. It's gonna be much more subtle, and that might give us a more even exposure between Sidney and the background. And chin down, there you go. Cheat toward the reflector a little bit. There you go. Beautiful, beautiful, I like that. (camera shutters) And yeah, hold that right there, right there. (bird chirping) Beautiful, chin toward me, just a hair. Okay, stop right there. Everybody relax. And again, these guys are sort of working blind. We are all working blind, because we can't really see in this really bright sunlight but I think... I like that. I like that. So I will not know if this is a good exposure or not until I look at it in a nice shady environment. But based on what I see, I think that's something that I can work with. I can use my adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom or whatever program that you use, to bring in those shadows to change the exposure a little bit if I need to and sweeten that up and make it exactly what I want. But, create your shade, soften the light. If needed, bounce some light. Try using a large reflector to bring a large source of light. If you have a small 5-in-1, don't go over overboard with silver, 'cause sometimes that's just too much because a, it blinds the model, or it makes the model so bright that the background falls underexposed. And you might have to choose white instead, or you might not use any reflector to bounce light in at all. Because even in this environment, something like this, this concrete is reflecting a ton of light. So sometimes you might even have to put something on the ground to keep that from happening. But those are the tools at your disposal, create shade, diffuse light, reflect light, shoot away, and have fun. One more thing I wanna mention is that the place that we put Sidney, we intentionally did this so that we were shooting into a dark background, because we made her dark. That means that the background would've been overexposed because we only have ambient light. So I'm looking for trees or a dark background, something in shade, to shoot as the background so those exposures match. Okay, now that we know how to control our ambient light, we're gonna go and shoot way back in the background. I don't know if you can see it over there, but there's a fireplace over there that looks really, really cool. And so what we're going to do is we're going to shoot there. We're gonna first control our ambient light doing the same types of things. But to really be able to shape the light and get it exactly like we want, we're gonna add in our flash. And then we're gonna have a really really nice environmental portrait. So let's do that next.