Simone's Kitchen

Behind the scenes at a gardenshoot – too sunny!

Handful of cherries

We had been planning this shoot for months. In fact we had been planning it since the previous shoot somewhere in March of this year, so you can say it had a long time in the making. Now if you live in Holland or in this area of the world, you know as well as I do that the weather can be very much hit or miss. It can rain, it can be grey and dull outside or it can be sunny and hot. We had no idea what the weather would be like on our picked date of June 30th and with 7 schedules of our models and the sidekicks it was surprising that we could even find one date that everyone could go. But we did and surprise of surprises; the sun was shining that day!

Now sunshine is the thing everyone always wants, but…. too much sun or sun at the wrong time of day can be just as disastrous as no sunshine at all. Ofcourse we did want to have that sunny outside feeling, so no sun would have been a bigger problem. People do tend to look at me with a funny face when I tell them that the sun is too bright. I can understand why too, since we get so little sunshine here that it is almost swearing when you say the sun is too bright!

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Whenever we have sun like that particular day and I am photographing people I like to shoot against the light. So shooting with backlight. (which inevitable gets me the annoying question during weddings from some guy warning me that ‘ do you know you are shooting against the light’… Seriously….)

Anyway, why do I shoot against the light? First of all; you avoid people squinting against the sun. Not attractive at all. Secondly, you avoid dark shadows where there eyes should be. Ofcourse you do have to adjust your light to avoid shooting silhouettes instead of people with faces. So that requires some knowledge of how the light works and how you can bend the light to your will.

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As you can see in the two images above it requires shielding our models from the sun altogether. I tried shooting without the reflector and while it was not entirely horrible it did create certain blown out highlights on shirts where I didn’t want them so we had to use something. I didn’t have a diffuser (a diffuser is essentially a transparant screen you can hold above your subject to filter the sunlight and make it less harsh) so we used the white large reflector I had. Which actually turned out to be a little too short. I ended up having my reflector holder people in sight either on the left or right. The solution was really to have only two people in view most of the time. Sometimes you just got to work with what you have!

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While the models where shielded from the sun I was not! That’s how I get a tan on the job… 😉

Because I was starting to sweat like a pig we ended up moving to the shade as you can see above. Now if you see that foot poking into the screen below you can almost guess that again…  I was in the sun! Tssskk…

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Shooting in the shade can also be a little tricky in terms of your white balance which tends to go wrong as you can clearly see in the photos below which show the unedited file on the left and the final one on the right. A little tweak in color and exposure makes a world of difference!

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In situations like this it is critical that you shoot in raw and it doesn’t hurt to use a grey card either to make sure you get the correct white balance later. I tend to shoot in auto white balance and correct it later, as the color temperature will change continuously in situations like this. When a cloud moves in front of the sun it will change. So instead of constantly fiddling with my white balance I just put it on auto and trust Lightroom to make the adjustments at a later stage.

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All in all we had a great and fun day with good end results!

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31 comments

  1. Yes, too much light isn’t great either! Annoying… A lovely “behind the scenes” article.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. It’s beautiful, Simone! And very useful tips too 🙂

  3. Amazing pictures darling! I’m in love with the first cherry one! 🙂

  4. Great article. Thanks for all the tips. I hope I can remember them.

  5. I aways learn so much from you Simone! Had to laugh at “too much sun!” I know how you’ve been missing it this summer.

  6. Beautiful scenery, gorgeous pictures and useful tips ! Thanks for the post.

  7. Great post! Your photography always inspires me, so this post was very helpful:-) Hugs, Terra

  8. Glad it was helpful Terra!

  9. Gorgeous… and great information… a beautiful picnic sight – dreamy!
    🙂
    Valerie

  10. I enjoyed that very much, thanks for sharing!!

  11. These are such stunning, professional photos! You did an expert job managing that intense sunlight, too. I agree, having a scene that’s too sunny is actually harder than one that’s too dark. You can always raise the ISO, slow down the shutter, or bring up the exposure in post processing for darkness, but once you blow out the highlights with a shot that’s too bright, those details are gone for good.

  12. I enjoy reading this Simone. I just started shooting in raw but I don’t have lightroom yet. I’m getting it as soon as I squeeze a few pennies. I set up another computer in the kitchen where I only download raw pictures and do editing because my airbook has very little memory capacity. It’s been fun and I look forward to knowing a little more.

    • Yay. Great that you’re shooting in raw now Angela! I do think it makes a lot of sense really. I never use jpg anymore even though it does indeed take up loads of memory! That’s the only drawback…

  13. everything look so good. the food, the people, the shots. I keep on hoping to one day meet you and photograph with you 😉

  14. Like you, I gave up on fiddling on my white balance every few seconds. I tend to use auto more now and yes, raw is the only solution to alter a bit the pictures. Your post is very informative. Thank you for all the tips and the pictures. I learned a lot and I loved everything!

  15. This is such a useful post. Great tips and I agree with you on the backlight.

  16. Gorgeous pictures and very useful tips. There’s so much to learn here. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Great post Simone! And great words of advice about working with too much sun! Love the pics and I had to LOL regarding the comments you get at weddings…

  18. Stunning, absolutely stunning pictures. Love love love the article. I really like your behind the scenes posts, Simone.

    It’s such an inspiration and a reminder to me that I need to kick myself in the butt and learn how to make real good use of my camera. I also badly need to learn how to use Lightroom and Photoshop!!!

    So much to learn, so little time!

    Thanks for sharing some of your knowledge and experience. 🙂

  19. This is such a lovely post, behind the scenes of a professional photographer!

    Thanks for this inspiring & lovely post, Simone! 🙂

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