Wedding photography lighting – Shooting in partial sunlight & shade
I strongly believe that when you have the ability to control a photo session, that you pick your battles. You don’t have to try and make everything work. Set up portrait shots in light that favors you. Of course, off-camera flash really helps you in being able to pick where you want that light that favors you.
Solid advice that I adhere to, is to not have a person or a group of people half in the sun, half in shade. It’s a recipe for disaster, or a tough battle to fight, lighting wise. But then, slightly amneding Sean Connery’s immortal words in The Untouchables, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun-fight.” When you have enough light to match the sun, then it is possible to pull something out of that challenging situation!
I like using speedlights for additional light, but I also have my Profoto AcuteB2 600R Power Pack (affiliate), in the trunk of my car … just in case I need something more than a knife. But really, if the Profoto B1 flash (review article), had been available for Nikon at the time, it would’ve been the Profoto B1 that I would’ve pulled out for 500 Ws of easily portable light!
I really liked this building as a backdrop, but at this time of the day, half the facade was in sun, and half in shade. And this is where having a really powerful flash on location, is very very handy. I can dump sunlight levels of light (through a softbox!) to match the sunlit areas, and match the exposure levels.
The pull-back shot shows how the light was positioned. The softbox is a fairly unwieldy (for location), Profoto 3′ x 4′ RFi Softbox (affiliate). I use it with just the outer baffle in situations like this where I need to dump a lot of light, but still want it to look soft. (The dappled light in the foreground is from the sunlight filtering through the trees.)
In the final image (at the top), the light on the left-hand side does look different than the hard sunlight on the right-hand side. With more time (and an infinitely patient bridal party), it would be possible to match the quality in light more exactly, but I am happy with this compromise – it looks great!
Photo gear & equivalents used (& what I should’ve been using)
- Nikon D4
- Nikon 24-70mm f2.8G AF-S / Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II
- Profoto Acute B2 600 Ws power pack
or alternately, the Profoto B1 portable flash
- Profoto RFi 3’x4′ softbox
Video tutorials to help you with flash photography
If you like learning by seeing best, then these video tutorials will help you with understanding flash photography techniques and concepts. While not quite hands-on, this is as close as we can get to personal instruction. Check out these and other video tutorials and online photography workshops.
- review: Profoto B1 flash
- Camera & flash settings: what do you want to achieve? (model: Ulorin Vex)
- Controlling bright daylight w/ direct off-camera flash (model: Molly K)
- Shooting wedding photos in the mid-day sun (Clarence & Aluanda)
- Wedding photography – big bounce flash
- Photo session – Modern Gypsies – golden birds
- Comparing output: studio lights vs. speedlites / speedlights
- Overpowering the sun with flash (models: Sarah & Mark)
A little bit of homework
My camera settings were: 1/250 @ f/8 @ 100 ISO
If you regularly visit the Tangents blog, then you know the recipe off by heart by now – how did I get to these settings? And what was my Profoto flash set to?