Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Natural Lighting in Photography: Finding the Right Kind of Shade also known as Open Shade

Okay, I have done a little research on the right kind of shade in photography, and this is what I have found. The photo to the right is of my daughters, you say daughterS.  Yes, that light colored blob behind the cute little face is my youngest chasing the dog in the garage.  This would be a better picture had all the background been dark, but trying to get my oldest to look not half dead in a picture is quite the feat. :)  This photo was taken with an open garage door in manual mode with Kya facing the sunlight.  The ISO was set at 400, I metered off her face for my shutter speed, I wore a white shirt for the catch lights, and angled her face until the light hit across her cheek nicely.  The f/stop used was a 1.8, a very shallow depth of field to blur out all the garage clutter, and BELIEVE me there is a lot of clutter.  White balance was set to cloudy since open shade can cause a blue tint, this cloudy WB will cause a warmer color throughout the photograph. The last tid bit of info here is that this picture was taken at 2:15pm on a super bright cloudless day during the hot summer.

1. You want to catch the light in the eyes of your subject, these lights are called “catch lights”. This can be done by either turning your subject to the light source, having a reflector reflect the light into the eyes, or standing near a reflective surface (like a white wall, white cardboard, or t-shirt).

2. Have a good amount of indirect light coming through the shadow. Indirect light is defined as light that has particles in it, examples of this would be the fog, dust, mist. Also, indirect light does not hit the subject at a 90 degree angle, it hits at either more or less than 90 degrees. Using indirect light will not cause those harsh shadows on your subject like mid-day (hard or direct light) will. Indirect light is more complimenting to humans, since it evens out the skin.

3. Places to find indirect light were surprising to me. Apparently open garages with light flooding in is a great place to start. Place your subject in the shade in the garage facing out towards the light. The light outside will help catch those catch lights in your subject eyes. Have subject stand closer to the direct light if you aren’t seeing the catch lights, or try having them turn toward the light. Another great place would be on a patio, porch, front door, or in between buildings. I need to try the last suggestion, in between buildings. I guess if you place your subject in the shade, but have the direct light hitting the other building (especially a light colored building to reflect the light) near the shade will produce great results. I read that putting somebody directly under a tree canopy isn’t the greatest, as I thought would be better than direct light. It said to go ahead and place them under the tree, but closer to the edge of shadow produced by the tree. Also, not to have too many beams of bright sun shining through, since they can cause bright highlights and dark shadows.

4. You also want to have some of the sky showing in the background if possible, I am guessing so that there is still some fill light in the shot.  I am not too sure about this tip yet, I am going to have to do some experimenting myself.

5. Different types of shade also might cause color casts on your photos. Apparently, the color casts might show up a bit on the cool side, so maybe try adjusting white balance with a warmer setting if you notice this while taking pictures, maybe cloudy? These can be taken care of in some sort of editing program, or if you notice it while you are shooting photographs, adjust your white balance. Here is a tutorial that I put together on white balance
6. Here is a great site I found talking about all sorts of different natural lighting
This information can be helpful from when trying to figure how to meter in open shade.

Let's assume an F stop of f/8 and a ISO (film speed) of 400. Here's what these 10 light levels are and the shutter speed that would be needed.*Remember is you change the aperture you will need to change your shutter speed.
   A Sunny day outdoors — 1/2000 sec

* A hazy bright day — 1/1000 sec

* A bright cloudy day without shadows — 1/500 sec

* An overcast day, or open shade on a sunny day — 1/250 sec

* A heavily overcast day — 1/125 sec

* Deep shade. The woods on an bright overcast day — 1/60 sec

* Just before a thunderstorm or late on a heavily overcast day — 1/30 sec

* A brightly lit store interior — 1/15th sec

* A well lit stage or sports arena — 1/8th sec

* A well lit home interior — 1/4 sec

. I am curious if you are to meter off your subject, background, or sky. I am still playing around with metering.

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