Doing portraits outdoors at the wrong time of day—say 3:30pm when the sun is setting at 7:00pm—is challenging! There tends to be too much light and not enough shade. The best answer is to place your subjects in what shade there is and then subtract some excess light so you don’t have just totally flat lighting.
There are two ways to do this:
1 - Use, black flat, gobos that you place close to your subject. In this first example, this family reunion had to be done at the worst time of day and it was a large group! This is where knowing your locations and how to use them, any time of the year, sets the professional photographer apart from the amateurs pretending to be professional. Using y 42” black flat works great on individuals and small groups when there’s light coming from multiple directions.
In this example you can see the the placement of the gobo to block some light from the left. This artificial gobo technique would not work with their large group of twelve. For large groups, at the right time of day I use large stands of trees to subtract light from one side.
2 - Use natural light blockers (gobos) within your location. In my example, at one of my favorite locations, the sun was just in the wrong spot this time of year (June). So, to get the sun behind my subject I had to rotate my camera position 90 degrees. Doing so gave me a natural gobo (the rock she is leaning against) to block light on the left side of her face!
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