Friday, November 15, 2013

Available Light

After shooting in a graveyard today I had to learn to deal with shooting only using available light. There was no power anywhere around and a generator wasn't exactly in our budget so bringing lights would have been useless so lighting department and I were forced to shoot using only the sunlight. Thankfully today was a beautiful day and I think the shots turned out pretty well.

The most useful tool to me when shooting only with available light is the reflector. Unfortunately PPECS only allows 1 reflector to each patron, but there are many things that work as a reflector. A large piece of white cardboard is perfect, even better if you wrap it in tinfoil. I most use a reflector to provide eye light and lessen shadows. When shooting exteriors I try to avoid directly bouncing a large amount of light onto the subject to avoid seeming like there are two sources of light.

Another useful tool is the scrim. Pretty much the opposite of a reflector the scrim's goal is to lessen the light on the subject. There are scrims with varying intensity and size. Scrims are one of the only ways to control and lessen the sunlight. Since PPECS only provides with a certain range of ND filters over-exposure on nice days can often be a problem. Simply throw a scrim on a c-stand and the sunlight will be significantly diffused resulting in a nicer shot.

The direction of the sun can often pose a problem. Theres not really anything you can do about that except for placing your subject accordingly. Always try to avoid having the sun behind your subject to avoid silhouetting  their face. If there's a situation where thats unavoidable that's where its best to use the reflector and try to lessen the darkness of the subjects face. Also when shooting exteriors always be mindful of camera shadows, because they are also hard to control.

Below is a video shot by Alexander Fox using only available light, and it turned out extremely well. Take a look.

Wild Dunes - Golf Group Getaways from Alexander Fox on Vimeo.

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