Photography by Jon Adams

Mar 2011

Shooting Portraits in Bright Sun

One of the largest problems with shooting portraits is scheduling. When can you and your subject get together? What will the weather be like? and most importantly, how will the light be? If you only rely on the sun for your light source, you will run into problems. Sometimes you don't get to select the location or the time of day the shoot will happen. What do you do if you have to shoot portraits in the middle of a soccer field in the middle of the day under harsh sunlight?

Here we look at one solution to this issue.
When the sun is harsh and overhead you get hard shadows in the eyes and really not a very flattering light. Luckily for us, (unless you live at the equator) there is usually an angle available where the sun can be, even if very slightly, behind the subject. This can give a nice light to the hair and separation of the subject against the background. The problem is the face is in shadow and there isn't much light going into the eyes. So you either need a lot of flash power or a very fast shutter speed to control the ambient light. Bringing several thousand watts of power may be an option if you have the equipment, a generator, power pack and big lights. In the case of this video we're trying the other approach. Shooting with a shutter speed in the thousandths of seconds the sunlight doesn't have enough time to fully expose the frame. When you do this, you need a lot less power to put some nice light on the face. There is a gotcha here also, making a flash sync with a shutter speed that high is pretty specialized. Your nikon and canon branded flashes can do it with the proper cord or with the new Pocket wizard FlexTT5 and MiniTTL. The Pocket Wizards are being used in the video for wireless high speed syncing

Why F2.8?
You may be asking yourself, why are you shooting at F2.8 in the video. You can take down the power of the sun a lot by upping the f-stop. True, but I'm shooting in a storage lot. The background isn't an important part of my portrait. I want a very shallow depth of field. I want the background to go blurry. Shooting at F2.8 allows me to shoot at almost anything I want and just look for colors and patterns. If it's an old blue wall I'll get a nice blue wash of color. A bunch of ugly dead trees? A nice grey brown color. The subject will pop off the background, isn't that what we want to have in our portraits? But if not, go ahead an increase the f-stop to get more in focus.

If my rambling up there didn't make sense. Here's the theory. You need your exposure without the flash to be 1 to 2 stops underexposed. Then you add flash to make up the difference. In the sample shot above the image on the right is the base exposure, no flash. You can see it's just more than a stop underexposed. Then we add the light, we have full control of the direction of the light on the face and we can have the background go a little dark. Perfect.

Can Photography Make You A Better Parent?

Looking for a reason to get the latest camera gear. Convince your spouse with this article I posted over at Cory Adams Photography. Click Here: Can Photography Make You A Better Parent.

New Gallery Coming Soon - Fine Art Photography

Hello everyone!
I had a great time recently down near Kanab, UT. Had some fun times shooting the sand, sandstone, and pines. I took my oldest daughter with me for a couple of the shoots. She ended up freezing a lot of the time and asked me why it's always so cold when I go out to make images. I told her that's when the light is good. It's true (for the most part) that magic light happens just as the sun is coming up or going down. During a lot of the year it's cold during those times. It's early, or you'll miss dinner. But that's the way of it.

Sorry for the ramble, The new gallery is coming soon. I've wanted to be able to offer more options for my images to be displayed. The old gallery is nice, but I don't have much control over the shopping cart system. It was very limiting. What I want to offer is fine art prints ready to hang. I love to make the finished pieces, so that's what will be available to purchase on the new gallery. There will be some fun items too like post cards and puzzles. So stay tuned!

Landscape Painting

Here is a painting of an image I made some time ago. I quite enjoy the challenges involved in making a photograph into a painting. I've been working with the new mixing brushed in Photoshop and some creative filters to come up with the current results. It seems to be a trick to find the right balance in realism/detail and having that flowing painterly look. (Click on the image for a larger view) Let me know what your thoughts are on this type of imagery.

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Grantsville Pano Time Lapse

Here is a quick post of the time lapse video we posted over at the Cory Adams Photo Blog. Here is a link if you'd like to get connected with Cory Adams Photography.

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