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Wedding Photography, direct sunlight, and using your flash to overpower the sun


I'm a wedding photographer and this is my biggest challenge, always!  Brides and Grooms want their images in a very particular location, problem is, it is in the direct sun.  I can master open shade, but the direct sun gets me every time.  I have a wedding this weekend and the bride is very particular.  I checked out the lighting and sure enough, it will be in direct sunlight unless we have some cloud cover.  

I recently started using a flip-it on my flash and I'm experimenting with photographing in the direct sun using on camera flash and my flip it.  

Honestly, I love natural light photography.  Something about using a flash takes away from the nice depth and dimension of my images.  I need a very simple plan and tools to add to my toolkit to master this issue.  

Can anyone recommend some time tested, solid solutions to this struggle.  Thank you so very much.  



  • ViccoVicco Member
    edited May 2015
    Hmmm, what is so bad about direct sun? The only thing to keep in mind, in my eyes, is, to avoid High Noon. Better go earlier or later.
    And then... well, there is so much light around, why not simply use a reflector? :-) With the California Sunbounce models, you can even go alone, as there are possibilities to fixate the reflectors on a lightstand (choose a heavy one for this purpose, like the one from Manfrotto, made from steel). Btw.: I dont think, that this little flip-it tool helps more in your case, than placing a tiny little sparkle in your subjects' eyes.



  • dbrunodbruno Member
    dsegreve - can you tell me or show me what a "flip-it" is, please? I've never heard the term before.
  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited May 2015
    Flash-card/bounce card


    In the comments on the Demb Flash website it says "Capable of Near Studio Lighting", but when you look at the picture its next to you see a darkish background and shadows.  IMHO, not quite near studio lighting.  

    The device softens the light, spreads out the flash and makes for a better picture than direct flash. However, you still get the dark background and the shadows.  In that line-up of flash modifiers the larger dish type flip it is most effective...however, some people believe they look in one reviewers words "silly" and while manuevering around the event venue it comes off easily.  

    Neil never uses such flash modifiers.  He uses bounce flash when he can sometimes assisted with other lights usually modified with umbrellas.  If he cant find something to bounce you usually see an assistant with pole mounted flash and a nicely sized softbox...sometimes gridded.  I think Neil would avoid the flip-it.

    My observation and opinion of such flash modifiers is its indeed better than direct flash.  I dont think any of them appear "silly".  If it works for you, use it.  They offer a very quick way to get a decent photo.  Lets say you are taking pictures of people one by one who are lined up.  Lets say they are getting their picture taken with a celebrity.  You need to snap them quickly.  The most expedient way is direct flash, but it would probably be better to use a dish-like modifier.  Neil would be a glutten for punishment because he wants the best photo possible and setup off-camera lights or find the absolute best place to bounce the flash or even use the human lightpole.  Other people would just throw the flip-it on and say "good enough!".

    Some people dont want near studio quality.  They just want a photo which is "good enough".  If you use the expedient modifier you will get "good enough".  However, putting "good enough" photos out there involves some business risk.  You want flattering photos out there, but at the same time you need to get photos of everyone quickly.  It can be a tough balance. 

    At one conference I went to they had a bunch of people lined up to get their photo with Ted Cruz.  The photographer just used a Canon Speedlight and full-on direct flash not really caring for bounce or modifiers of any kind.  In that situation, everyone just wanted to get their photo with Ted Cruz and didnt care about an artful photographic display.  They just wanted a photo, period.   

    Keep in mind every photographer I have met seems to use a different flash/lighting setup.  Sometimes very creative complex setups to the more simplistic.  From a business perspective, the photographer who makes the most money has the best idea.  From an artful perspective, the more creative complex setups might be better artwise.  So use your best judgment.
  • dbrunodbruno Member

    This may be getting off topic, but I saw this setup being used by the photographer who was taking individual photos of college graduates after they received their diplomas. He was on the stage but off to the side towards the back. The graduate would walk over and stand against the side wall, and he would snap the photo. This probably worked pretty well - we'll see, because my daughter was one of the graduates - but obviously he was not moving among a crowd. I actually had been trying to work something out like this, but using something like a flashbender.
  • Thank you so much for all your feedback. 

    I love reflectors, but I find with wedding photography it takes too much time and I usually shot alone.  

    I just bought the flip-it and need to experiment more with it.  I'm also going to try Neil's approach using direct flash only as fill - metering ambient light without flash.  I need something to help with harsh shadows created by bright sun / or something to help even out my exposure when I have my subjects backs to the sun.  

    Thanks again! 

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