Location Shoot: Use Location to Your Advantage
Alright, so we're gonna move on to the next video from the pre shoot, and that is using the location. So again, like I mentioned, we were out on the beach, and one of the things I love to do with any location whether you're on the beach, in a gym, in the studio, is look around and figure out what's around the location that you can use as far as props, as far as posing and all that type of stuff. So, you know, there's no need for you to have to wrack your brain beforehand, once you get somewhere there's all sorts of things. Once we got to the location at the park, we did a quick walkthrough and I noticed that there was a lot of rocks on the beach, so in my head, thinking with Noah I'm like "Alright, well we can have him skip some rocks into the water, I can do something silly to get a, you know, another genuine expression. So I figured, you know, not many people can juggle, so I'm gonna make him try and juggle rocks. And it wasn't so much, again, that I cared about him actually juggling...
, but when those rocks fell, he would probably lean over and start laughing. Or even the motion of him picking the rocks up off the ground, I could zoom in and get a look of him kinda doing that task and just catch that moment. So it's all about using the location. There was also a bunch of logs washed up the beach, so I thought, okay we can use these, you know, for Anna to walk on because she's a dancer. So you know she can kinda walk the balance beam here. Or Noah can take a seat on 'em and I can think of little tasks for him to do, and you'll see I had him do things like tie his shoes or roll up his sleeves. Just things that people do every day. And again like I said earlier with the photo of the guy in front of the trailer, I just, I like to have people sit and see how they naturally move. And if you're really stuck, I'll ask the kids or anybody I'm photographing "What would you do if you were in "this location, you know, just hanging out by yourself?" And a lot of times, they'll have something, they say "Oh, I'd probably walk over here and do this." And, okay, well that's what they would naturally do, so that's a little insight into their personality. Maybe you literally shoot that or it might give you an idea how to do something based off of that that you know will work for the camera. So we'll move on to the next video, that is using the location, so let's take a look. Alright, so now we're out here at the beach and one of the things I want to do is kinda find ways to implement, you know, get some more personality without necessarily posing, so we're gonna, we're gonna use what we have out here, from things to sit on, rocks and things like that, so we're just gonna walk around and kinda see what we can make happen with using all the stuff around here. So I might have you, are you gonna be alright ditching your jacket again?
Alright, so just set it right here next to my stuff. I just think it'll look better, plus that bright orange inside is attention-getting. (laughs) Perfect, should be good. Ah, again I'm gonna shoot with the 50 millimeter. I generally carry three lenses, a 50, a 35 and a 70 just to get totally different ranges with the camera. And we'll shoot with all three. We're gonna start just kinda walking along the beach, and I'm gonna stay a little bit away from you. I'm gonna have the sun at your back just so we're not getting those harsh shadows or anything like that. And as you're walking I might have you bend over to grab a rock and just do your best to try and skip it out in the water, and I'll give you some other cues as we go along just to kinda keep you on your toes. So generally when I'm shooting, I'm on full manual mode. I'm gonna shoot at f/4, ISO 100, and I always keep my white balance generally in Kelvin at about 5500, so it looks like we're at f/4 at about a 500th of a second. So what I'm gonna have you do is, from here on out, as we're walking, you just pick up rocks and throw them, I'm gonna move closer to you, further away, whatever. You just keep doing that until we change it up, and I'll give you some other cues as we go. So let's, let's start, so let's see what you've got. Oh, there you go, one more, you can throw this one right over, right out here. Awesome, make sure I don't walk in there. Um, sometimes it helps to shoot with your camera on a higher speed mode too, just to get more in between. Alright, now when you're walking towards me I want you to pick up three rocks and I wanna see your best juggling act.
So let's see what you've got, yeah.
Come on, you can do it. (laughing) Alright, now just walk towards me, yep, you can just hold on to those rocks, just kinda, slightly, just kinda underhand throw them out towards the water, you don't have to be, uh, yep, there you go, look right here once, yep, good. Let me look behind me here, alright, I'm just gonna have you walk right on by me, so I'm gonna stop, you can stop right there, and then, just keep holding on to those, as you walk just go right on by, and you can look right over the camera. So, yeah, just kinda look out towards the water, perfect. I wanna do it again but I wanna switch up lenses so let me grab a longer lens. We're gonna do essentially the same thing but I'm just gonna be further away from you this time. I always like to do most of the things with three different lenses just to get different perspective. So I put on the 70 to 200, and I don't have the lens hood on it, I kinda like to keep it open. So I'm gonna have you go down there about five steps. See that orange rock right behind you in the middle? Start there, and another thing I like to do is I don't always like to shoot, I'm five foot 10, I don't like to shoot every photo at five foot 10. I like to either stand on things, or sit down, so with this lens and knowing how the background's all these really good looking trees, I'm gonna sit down on the ground. And as you're doing that, I'm gonna have you throwing the rocks, we'll do it before these people get here so, I'm gonna zoom in and it'll look just totally different than what we did with the 50. Alright, so let's see it, skip a couple rocks, just make sure you don't hit anybody. Alright, one more. Yeah, let's see it, alright, now you can start walking towards me. As you're walking I'm gonna have you just grab a couple more rocks, so pick up a couple. Yep, that's good, yep, you can just start walk, yeah, there you go. (laughing) Yep. Awesome, alright, that was perfect. Um, so the next thing we're gonna do is I'm looking for some other stuff that we can use, we've kinda maxed out our use of the rocks, so I'm thinking we'll go sit up here on these logs. So sit about here, I'm actually gonna have you act like you're like, tying your shoes, even like roll, pushing up your sleeves and things like that, so grab a seat right there, I'm gonna re-frame. So, I'm gonna hide our coats and everything behind him. Yep, so same idea, looking right up here once. There you go, awesome, yep, look down at kinda what you're doing. Alright, now look right at me, um, you can sit like that, I'm just gonna have you act, almost act like you're wearing a watch and you're kind of adjusting it, so because I'm using the 200 I can zoom in pretty far and take this out of context. So kinda turn off this way a little bit, towards the water. And I'm gonna have you adjust the sleeve that's closest to me, so almost like you're shoving it up towards your elbow a little bit. Yep, so start right there, look over towards me. Yep, that's good, look down towards what you're doing once. Just kinda be slow a bit, almost like I'm not here. Alright, look right over here again, awesome. And one last one, alright, so that's pretty good with that. I think for this location we've kinda used all we can with the rocks and the logs there, so we'll move on. Alright, so that's kinda the basics of finding the locations, seeing what you can do with it, here's one of the resulting shots that's actually edited, so, you know, it wasn't, that's why I shoot so many frames per session too, because when you have people doing things, again, I'm not necessarily looking for what they're doing, it's getting those looks in between and shooting in all those different focal lengths because I might have somebody adjusting their watch or fixing a shoe, but realistically I might be zoomed in with a 70 200 all the way at and only on their face because I'm having them look in a direction where they're looking towards the light, I just don't want them so camera aware. I wanna catch a moment where, you know, it might be something that's funny, it might be something that's quiet, it just depends on who you're shooting, what you're shooting, and where you're shooting it. So, you know, I liked this moment and it looks like he was, you know, we were, you kinda saw the dialogue there. We were just talking back and forth. That's a genuine smile out of that kid. I know because I hung out with him for a couple of hours. And you know, yeah, he was doing something but when you're just sitting there posed, and it's like, "Okay, now smile." You don't always get that smile, and I know if you've ever been on the other side of the camera, you know how that goes, so, it was kind of taking him out of the moment of "You're in a photo shoot" and more like "Eh, why don't you tie your shoes or "do something you know everybody generally knows how to do" and get them caught up in that moment. And, you know, I just enjoyed that shot, so that's one of the ones, and you know in a general photo shoot, like I said in a two hour senior shoot I might take 800, 900 images, but on the back end, they're only getting four dozen to choose from because you don't want to overwhelm them with too many images, and we'll get into that later. But I'm also, you know, just trying to catch the best of the best as far as moments go and actual photos. You have to overshoot a little bit to be able to get the content you need.
This is from Altamash Urooj Santana who says "Why didn't you take lights with you for the beach "session, just natural light?" So are we gonna see both as we...
Yes, that is a great question, and that's what's gonna happen in the next video. Because what I want to do with this first part is kind of introduce a little more of that direction, and like I mentioned earlier, on a senior shoot we might do four or five different outfits, different looks, and you know we'll do some of those in studio, some outside, and some in combinations. So at the end of the day I usually want between studio, on location, and outfits, I want about eight different looks total. And I'll usually only light three or four of those. So, you know, maybe 40% or less of the session is using lights because when you are doing direction and scenarios there's only so much you can do with lighting, otherwise it'll just take either way too much time or too much effort, honestly, with some of the sessions. So I want to mix it up, plus I want that variety of natural light and studio light. So yeah, what we'll see in the next section will be on location, and then we'll introduce the lighting.
Cool, alright we have a couple more questions.
One is from Laurie, who says "Do you shoot mostly portrait or landscape" and she was noticing a lot of the portrait in some of these sessions here.
Yeah, and she was noticing a lot of portrait but then again this is landscape, and I shoot variety, both for, you know it depends on the settings, what we're going for, he was walking down the beach, and, you know, once I framed, the first thing I do with any shot is frame it up and figure out how I want the composition. There was some people on the beach that I didn't necessarily want in the shot, nor did I want to clone them out later. So it totally depends, you know, in this shot his head was below the horizon line of those trees, it just worked out that this made a great horizontal, he was kinda crunched down, so I'll shoot both. The other thing I do is, on the back end I know that when we're putting together collages and albums I want that variety, and I want to have images that can fit into any of the pages of an album or into the spots in a collage. So I want all that variety to help me put it together and help maximize the sale on the back end, so I definitely am aware to shoot both vertical and horizontal.
And so, similarly to that, you also seem to be shooting sort of wider ones and then closer-in and then more head shots as well.
Is that for the end product too?
The same idea. Yeah, I definitely move from lens to lens just to get that variety and also from switching lenses, certain focal lengths, like here, this was a 70 200. It did a great job compressing that background and kinda giving you a full, you can see the edge of the water, you can see all the rocks on the beach, you can also see the trees. Where if I were to shoot with a 35 right here it wouldn't have the same look, he would just look way too big in the frame. But in other ways, um, certain lenses work better for different settings, and along the same lines that Kana you just said, shooting closer up, I do want those closeups because a lot of times they speak more to the moms and some of that, where some of the shots from further away that are more compositionally interesting to me as a photographer, they might be something that, you know, they love, but they're also something that I love shooting that I can add to my website. So I want to get that full range for both the variety in how I'm putting the prints together, and also, I don't know, I just like to do different things to keep it interesting.
Great, alright, maybe one more, this is from Jeff Paine, who just wanted some clarification. He said "You don't use a lens shade on the 70 to 200 because "you like to keep it open." He's wondering what that means.
Yeah, I like to let in as much light as possible and I also, I don't know, I just don't like the bulkiness of having the lens hood on there, so years ago I took it off, I don't even know where it is anymore so generally, yeah, it can, on bright sunny days, there can be a little extra flare and things like that. I'll just block it with my hand. But I like, I don't know, I just don't really like shooting with the shade on there. It's more of a personal preference. I would say, don't follow that as advice. I just had a feeling that if people saw me shooting with that lens with no hood on there, they would ask, so it's just kind of what I like to do. There's definitely not a whole of rhyme or reason to it.
Great, so but the wide open meaning the aperture.
Great, thank you.
Yes, so now we'll move on, and the next video is also from the pre shoot and that's with Anna where we move into, we're still doing a little bit of direction but it's more lighting based, we move into the trees which were just on the side of the beach and we start introducing our lighting outdoors so we'll go through the whole process of taking the outdoor lighting we spoke about yesterday and bringing that into the actual field and putting it to use. Okay, so one of the things I like to do when using lighting in an outdoor location is first kind of scout the area. And when we first got here we noticed all these trees, you can see the ocean in the background, the landscape behind and everything like that so I thought that would make for a great photo. One of the other things I like to do is introduce studio strobes outdoors to kind of, you can use it either to polish the existing light or kind of give it a surreal look. Out here we're using a Profoto B1, and that is a standalone light, it doesn't have any cords, the whole battery is included inside the light so you don't have to deal with cords or finding power or any of that. We're also using the Profoto Deep umbrella which puts out a really nice quality of light. It has a silver interior so it has a little extra pop to it. So the next thing I want to do before we introduce Anna to the photo is, how I handle outdoor lighting is, I frame up the shot first without anybody in it. And obviously the light will only shine on her and the immediate surroundings, but things like the water, the trees, that are 30 feet back, all that won't be affected by the light, so I like to get a couple plates of the whole shot without anybody in it, without the light firing, and basically what I'm doing is, I know that the parameters are, I'm gonna have my ISO at 100, I'm gonna have my shutter speed at a 200th of a second because the max sync speed with this camera and that light, not using high speed sync, is a 250th so I want to err on the side of caution at a 200th, and then the only variable that I'm changing from here is the f stop, and I'm just looking at the background. So essentially I'm making a landscape photo, and that's what my camera settings are going to stay once we put her into the frame. So I'm gonna take a couple of shots here. I'm shooting with the 17 to and I'm gonna be shooting at 35. So we'll frame this up, shoot a couple shots and figure out just how dark we want to make the sky and everything. It's looking like, we'll try and do something that's a little more dramatic so I'm gonna shoot at f/9, at a 200th of a second at ISO 100. And because we're using strobes that are daylight balanced we're gonna have our white balance at 5500 Kelvin. So Anna, wanna come in? Alright, so what I'm gonna have you do is you're gonna come right over here to where the light's hitting and you don't have to do much for these I'm mostly gonna have you stand kind of still.
So, the light is right here. I'm gonna have you stand right about where I'm at.
Um, wait just kind of on your back leg, you know, like this. And I'm actually gonna have you looking, see that yellow thing way over in the distance?
I'm gonna have you looking that way with your head but then eyes back towards the camera. Hands, you can just do whatever's comfortable, you know, whether you have your hands in your back pockets, I want to make some sort of shape. So standing right here and then your weight on your left foot. So turn this way just a little bit more. Yep, let's sweep that hair back over your shoulder just so the wind doesn't, and then do the same thing over here just so it's off your shoulder, yep. Um, feet almost, you don't have to have your toe pointed at me as much as, just face this way. Yep, that's perfect, and then weight on that back foot. Head out this way, and I'm putting her head out that way because that's where the light's coming from. So I'm gonna short light her, which basically means that I want the light coming from the side where her face is aimed so we get good catch lights in her eyes and everything, so you're gonna look off that way. Yep, just like that, I'm gonna go back to where I framed up the shot. And now, I haven't touched my camera settings at all. So what we do is, let me grab a light meter, we'll make this official. Oh, another tip is, if you ever have a camera bag that has a zipper on it, and you have it unzipped, leave it open because especially on a beach, I've had it like this but unzipped and picked it up and spilled my stuff everywhere, so it's not awesome. So we'll do this, leave that open. So knowing what we know, we were at a 200th of a second, ISO 100 at f/9, that is for our whole background, again, the light is not gonna affect the mountains, the trees way back there, the beach that's 100 yards behind her, it's only gonna affect her, so we don't want to change our camera settings at all but we want to make sure that our light is hitting her at those settings so I'm gonna put my light meter here at ISO 100, a 200th of a second, and I'm gonna go take a reading on her and basically the only thing that I'm gonna change is the power of the light until it hits f/9 because then I know the photo is properly exposed. So what I'm gonna do is hold the meter here. And hit the test button on my trigger. And we were at 12 seven, that's obviously way too bright. So we're gonna turn the light down, which I could do from the camera but I'll just do it this way. We'll take another reading, we should be getting close. We are at f/9, so there we go. So now we know everything's gonna be exposed properly, the background's gonna look how we want it, and she will look great because the meter told us so. So now I can just focus, now that we have all the technical stuff out of the way, I can just focus on her, and we can make a great image here. So I'm gonna have you stay right where you're at, take a tiny, turn your head a tiny bit that way. Yep, uh you have one hair coming across your chin, I'm just gonna have you pull that back, yeah. And then I'm gonna have you bend those elbows just a little bit more, yep that's perfect so head out this way. Alright, and we have it all framed up, get a little closer. I'm just watching where trees are coming so we don't have anything, like trees coming directly out of her head or anything like that. Alright one, two three, alright, great, this looks awesome. So now that all the settings are the same I can move around a little bit and we don't have to worry about any of the technical stuff so I'm gonna come a little bit closer, yep just stay right there. Eyes to me but keep your head turned out that way how it was, but then eyes right here. One, two, three, chin up just a little bit for the light, right there, one, two, three, awesome. Now don't even look at me just kind of look out there. One, two, three, alright, we're gonna go vertical so we can really get a lot of these trees and kind of do something that's really dramatic. So I'm gonna go, since I'm using the 17 to I'm gonna shoot something closer to 24 with this lens. Basically wide enough where I can almost see the light. But I can really see up in these trees. Alright, looking right here, one, two, three. One, two, three, alright, we'll do one more like that, and then we'll kind of mix it up a little bit. So now I want horizontal so we can get all the span of these trees, one, two, three, one, two, three. Alright, that looks awesome, um, the next thing I wanna do is just another with the same idea, so I'm gonna have you, we're gonna use some of the trees as a prop, let's go right here by this big one. So we're gonna try and set up essentially the same thing but I'm gonna change up the light angle just a little bit. We don't really have much sun today, it's pretty overcast so we're not competing with anything. The sun there was coming more directly at her face but you couldn't see it since the light was overpowering it. So what I'm gonna do now is shoot with the water at the background and the light will be, the sun will almost be a backlight. So you can go with your back flat to this tree, almost turn a little to the side, yep. Come around this way a little bit, yep. And then I'm gonna move this so now the sun is coming from behind her, it's almost acting as like a gentle accent light, and then we're gonna use this from in front to be our main light. So I'm gonna be standing right over here. We're gonna go through the same process. Alright, so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna grab the meter again, we'll re-meter the sun and everything else hasn't changed so we're gonna stick with the same settings. I'm just gonna make sure that the light is still at f/9 so that way everything's exposed correctly. So we'll hit our measure button here, and we're still at 9 so the light must be about the same distance it was before. Set the meter there, and I'm gonna re-frame here from down low, yeah we have a really cool spot here with all the water behind, alright so just like that, looking right here. One, two, three, awesome, one, two, three, one more just like that, one, and I'm gonna come in a little bit closer, alright. One, two, three, um, don't even look at me, kind of look out that way towards that tealish car out there if you can see that. Uh, maybe a little more towards me, right there, that's perfect, alright, one, two, three. Last one like that and then I'm gonna switch lenses. Alright one, two, and eyes right here. Alright, I'm gonna switch lenses just because we've been using the same one the whole time. I'm actually gonna shoot with the 70 to and scoot way back and use some of these trees for depth. Obviously we have the light right here so we have to kinda frame it without that so I'm gonna scoot right back here. We're gonna be cropped in to just above her knees. You don't want to crop somebody right at the knees, right at the elbows or anything like that. You wanna kinda give them a little space. So I'm gonna go just above her knees but just below her hands, and we're gonna be zoomed in quite a bit so I'm using the 70 200 at 200. And it just gives us a totally different look. Everything else is the same as far as setting so we don't need to re-meter, we don't need to change any of the camera settings, cause we've already done all that. So eyes right here, one, two, three. Yeah, it looks awesome, I'm gonna turn vertical. Same thing, we're still at 200, one, two, three. One more like that, one, alright and you can smile once. One, two, three, more like that, one, two, three. So that's basically the setup for shooting outdoors with strobes. Again the important things to remember is that the first thing you do is set it up like it's a landscape shot because no matter where you're at, your light is only so powerful. If there's anything in the background that's further than 20 feet away, even less, your light's not really gonna affect it so I think one of the things to make lighting outdoors less confusing is do that landscape shot and do not change your camera settings. Just keep in mind the parameters of ISO because you're introducing that light and you don't need any extra sensitivity, your maximum shutter speed is about a 200th of a second with most Nikons or Canons when you're trying to sync up with a strobe, and from there the only variable you're adjusting when you're doing that landscape shot is your f stop, and that's just to taste, you know. Obviously, the more wide-open you go the more light that's going to be let in, if you want to make that surreal shot where the clouds are darker and have that dramatic look you'll want to go up to, you know, a higher f stop, that way you're kind of letting in less light and you can overpower that with your strobe. And from then, the only variable you're changing once you have your subject in the shot is either the distance your light is from them or the power of your light, because if you start messing with your camera settings, your whole background's gonna get messed up. Alright, so here's one of the shots from, a little more retouched, those were just raw shots that you were just seeing during the video, so they're straight out of the camera kind of what we were seeing while we were there. This is one of the shots, and again I wasn't so worried about direction with her in this part as I was more worried about setting the scene for how to set up your lighting and making it, you know, understandable, and kind of going through all the things, basically thinking out loud because a lot of times, or most of the time on photo shoots, it's more of an internal thought process. I'm not trying to spew out every thought that comes into my head. But for something like this I want you guys to see what goes through my mind, all the things I'm thinking about as far as being thorough and making sure all the settings are correct, going through things like the ISO, the shutter speed, the aperture, making sure you meter and all of that. So I wasn't so worried about getting all the personality and the direction in this particular shot I just wanted it to be lit in a way that was technically sound and kind of show you guys the steps to go through to make sense of bringing studio strobes outdoors and, you know, once you start competing with ambient light and mother nature and all that type of stuff it's just a way to simplify the process so you make all the changeable factors, you know, narrow them down. So the only thing you're really adjusting is the power of your light once you have your set up. Any questions?
I was actually surprised that you chose to use the big light. I was talking and we were wondering which light you were gonna use, and in my limited experience with lighting I thought you'd be using a smaller one. Can you explain why, your thought process on why you chose the big Profoto for out at the park?
Yeah, so the reason I chose the larger Profoto, like we talked about yesterday when we were building those lighting layers, I'm always thinking about what kind of light do I want before the shoot. And I knew that it was going to be a cloudy day, I knew that the sun was just barely peeking through, and the fact that, you know, she kind of had a gentle look. She was in this pale, purple sweatshirt it didn't scream for like a harsher, small light. I wanted something that had a little bit of pop to it, because there was a little bit of sun, but generally I wanted a larger light just for the softer quality that we were gonna get, to kinda match the quality of light that was already existing in the ambient light. The other thing was, I knew I was gonna do a full body shot, so I wanted a little more spread, so that's why I used the larger light source as well. So that way the light would have that nice even spread from head to toe, so those were the main things I was thinking about when I chose that light, that make sense?
Yes, thank you.
Is that light the same direction as the sun that would come in?
Yeah, the light, for this particular shot right here was from the exact same direction as the sun. And again, the sun, you can see it was a really cloudy day. So there wasn't a lot of sun to compete with so I wasn't too worried about shadows, I mean if you look from her feet, there isn't that harsh shadow you see normally on a sunny day, the only shadow that's there is probably from the strobe itself. So I wasn't as worried about that, the sun does come out later in the pre shoot which was, it will be pretty good to see. But yeah, this particular shot, the sun was the same angle as the light. Yes
What time of the day were you shooting for this?
Ah, this was probably somewhere around 1:30 or two p.m. Which isn't ideal but at the same time on an overcast day it really doesn't matter. So generally, actually this is kind of a good question overall because when I'm scheduling senior sessions I only shoot at two times in the day. Again, my sessions are June, July, and August. Two reasons I'm shooting at either 8:30 a.m. or around three hours prior to sunset, so the reason why is the light's really great at those times and it's pretty hot in July, August, in Nebraska so I'm trying to beat the heat either in the morning or later in the day, you know when it starts cooling off, so, and then it gives me all day to sit in the studio and edit while the sun is high in the sky and not so flattering.