Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Finding The Light Or Creating The Light; It's Always About Capturing Beautiful Portraits

Good Morning Everybody,

We kicked off my Sedona Experience private workshop yesterday and got in a solid 12 hours of training and shooting before we called it quits around 8:00 p.m. last night.  Dinner at the Oak Creek Brewery and Grill – a great choice for wonderful food, wrapped the day's festivities - I think everyone was pretty whooped, including me ;~)  But, boy did we capture some fantastic images!

Off To A Great Start!

We spent the morning in class discussing lighting, all kinds of lighting - off camera flash, window light, direction of light, etc.  We saw how we could find it, modify it, or create it to make it what we wanted the light to do for us.  Yesterday morning was all about the light.

Seven CanyonsAfter lunch at the beautiful Seven Canyons Golf Club - the views were fabulous - we headed up to Rachel's Knoll and began executing what we discussed in class in the morning.  The lighting situations were to say the least very challenging, the vistas were breathtaking, and the photographic results were amazing!

What A Place To Shoot!

We began by analyzing the direction of light and backgrounds to see how to best photograph our models among the beautiful surrounds in the rather harsh lighting conditions of the late afternoon sun. I suggested turning the model away from the sun, placing her face and body into shadow.  Now I could layer my own light onto her shadowed face and create the dimensional lighting that I wanted of her face. 

Yasenia1IMG_1708That was easily done with my off camera flash.  We got some images that just turned out fabulously well in natural lighting conditions that were not optimum.

While up on Rachel's Knoll we explored some other areas as well, each offering another fanatic vista for our background.  The other locations also offered a different set of challenges that needed to be analyzed to obtain the best result.  Take a look at this next image.  I loved the background, but how could I light the model.


In this situation I chose to use my Sunspotz reflector. LaDawn caught the sun and bounced it back on the subject's face.  She was at a distance that gave the nice loop lighting on Brandi's face without causing her much discomfort from the sunlight being reflected back into her eyes.  The long lens and large aperture resulted in a very cool image of Brandi with the valley in the background.

As we were shooting, the sun was constantly shifting and illuminating different sets of rocks that then became a wonderful new background for us.  Take a look at this next image.  The rock formations behind Brandi came alive with color, textures, and contrasts.  I'm thinking, "Wow!  What a great background for my next image.


I wanted the lighting to be soft on Brandi's face and thought if I could use my 84 inch umbrella to intercept the sun's rays, that just might work. You can see just how close the Umbrella was to Brandi in the upper left hand corner of the image. This allowed me  to get beautiful, soft, warm light on her and still capture the beautiful rock formations behind her.  I loved the result I got.

Wrapping Up At Million Dollar Homes – The Villas

Next it was down to the Villas, the very expensive properties on sight that offered some wonderful shooting opportunities for the class.  A lot of the locations we chose to shoot in were perfect for natural light portraits.  Here are a few images I made near the entrance foyer, in front of the fireplace, and just outside the front door entrance - gorgeous lighting means gorgeous portraits.

Ronnie 1IMG_2011

Brandi 2IMG_1878

Brandi 3IMG_1972The class questioned, and I agree, "Why do so many photographers settle for lighting that is so flat and uninteresting for their photographs?  I think the class was getting it.  We all get to shoot under the same lighting conditions regardless of where we live.  The important thing to know and understand is how to find and use the light to best flatter the subject and bring some visual excitement to the finished image.

BTW, here is a the last photograph I took yesterday of our three beautiful models; Amairany, Brandi, and Yesenia – THANKS girls, you looked marvelous!

3 GirlsIMG_2092

Today we begin the day with an in-depth discussion on composition and then it's off the Tlaquepaque, a cool little shopping area in downtown Sedona where we plan to spend the morning.  After lunch we are working a beautiful park area around Oak Creek which should provide some interesting photographic opportunities as well.

We plan to wrap the evening at Cathedral Rock, the most photographed site in Sedona!  Yep, it's going to be another fun day jam packed with everything a photographer could want - great locations, beautiful lighting, gorgeous models, and the camaraderie of our fellow photographers.  I'll plan to share a few more images of today's shoot in tomorrow's Business Day Thursday post.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  The class is arriving at our condo at 8:00 o'clock for a light breakfast LaDawn has prepared.  We’re hitting the books hard and then heading out for a full day of shooting.  We'll wrap about 8:00 p.m. this evening with dinner and fellowship making it another very busy, inspiring, but still fun day.

I'll plan to see everybody tomorrow for sure!

See ya' then,  David

1 comment:

  1. My wife and I vacationed in Sedona last year and had dinner at a small restaurant at Tlaquepaque. The location is gorgeous! I am not a wedding photographer - BUT - if I was, this would be the ultimate place to take wedding photos. Incredible architecture and the evening lighting was stunning.