Direct Sunlight Engagement Portrait – How We Shot It
The Equipment and Settings
- Nikon D300
- Sigma 50-150 2.8 EX DC @ 72mm (the older mk1 version, not the newer OS Stabilized version!)
- 1/1500 sec @ f/2.8 & ISO 100
- Manual exposure, manual WB, RAW
The Shooting Conditions
This image was created in 2009, in central Florida. I was enjoying using a patch of sunlight to light my subjects in a pose that looked flattering even though the sun was bright and high in the sky.
Usually, for natural light photographers rule number one seems to be “Avoid direct sunlight at all costs! Run for the shade!!!” While this is certainly a good tactic for those closer-up portraits where you need your subjects to smile at the camera and be flattered; I do find that direct sunlight is one of my main tools for creating dramatic images during the day. With the right pose and composition, the balance of shadow and sunlight can give you plenty of interesting results. Usually, as a quick rule of thumb to get you started- think of poses that do not require your subjects to look at the camera, usually wider angle compositions. These scenarios will lead you in the right direction as far as shooting with bright, harsh sun as your subject illumination source. Good luck!
For this image, I just applied a single Camera Raw Preset to the JPG B&W version of the image I had in my porfolio. (For whatever reason, I didn’t have the RAW original available.) As a side note, that is one of the awesome things that I like about the SLR Lounge Preset System- many of the presets work equally well on JPG images, not just RAW images!
The goal here was to create a slightly faded, grainy B&W film look without ruining the rich tonality in the original image. Too many times, “Faded B&W” type presets will kill your contrast because they go a little over the top with clipping blacks and highlights on your tone curve. It is extremely difficult to emulate the “oldness” of film and yet maintain rich tones. In this case, our “B&W Soft Film Fade” worked perfectly in one click, with just a faint touch of highlight and shadow clipping, film grain, and basic develop adjustments…
I know that most photographers out there shoot in RAW, however there are plenty of JPG shooters as well. With all of the RAW-oriented workflow education that we publish here at SLR Lounge, I figured it might be helpful to begin mentioning that RAW and JPG workflows are actually very similar, as long as you are using the right tools!
Take care, and happy clicking,
Natural Light Portraiture
If you are interested in becoming a master at natural light portraits, (photographing couples) …then you should check out our Natural Light Portraits for Couples DVD Workshop! This comprehensive video workshop collection will help you master everything about photographing people in a simple, natural light setting… Click here to visit the SLR Loune Store and get more info.
The SLR Lounge Preset System
The SLR Lounge Preset System is designed to enable users to achieve virtually any look and effect within 3-5 simple clicks. From basic color correction, vintage fades, black & white effects, tilt-shift effects, faux HDR, retouching, detail enhancing, and so much more. The sky is the limit with what has been dubbed the most powerful and intuitive preset system available. Click the link above to learn more/purchase! The SLR Lounge Preset System is now available for both Lightroom 4 and Adobe Camera Raw! (Bridge CS6)
You can also purchase the SLR Lounge Preset System as part of the Lightroom 4 Workshop Collection.