The problem I most often encounter with natural light outdoors is that there’s simply too much light! It’s bouncing all over the place, creating multiple sources, making the light on my subjects FLAT. My goal is to create dramatic, directional, lighting especially when I do portrait of individuals.
The following video is one of my on-location training videos, from my teaching site LightAtTheEdge.com (you can find a direct link at the end of this post), illustrating how I create three-dimensional lighting using ONLY a Gobo (black flag) to shape pure natural light.
In the world of cinematography we called this (using a black flag or Gobo to subtract light) Negative Fill and it works fine for individuals, but if photographing a group I use a large natural gobo on my location. I look for rows of trees or large bushes; downtown I’ll use buildings. In a home setting I may use a porch—just as long as I have some open sky opposite these Gobos.
I think the reason so few still photographers use this technique is that they’re too busy copying each other’s bad habits—like using flash and/or reflectors outside even when there’s perfectly good natural light in evidence! So, open your mind and eyes to all the great natural light out there.
Don’t just be a strobist—be a portrait artist!
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com
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