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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Shooting with Natural Light

Ever wonder why outdoor shoots start so early in the morning, often before the sun is even up? Don't worry, there is method to the madness.

No matter what you're shooting or where, you can't have anything without the right lighting. In a studio it doesn't matter what time of day or night you're shooting (unless you're posing next to a window with natural sunlight pouring through) because the lighting in this area is controlled. But photographers don't get that luxury when it comes to using natural sunlight.

Often, shoots will take place around 6:00am--yes, AM not PM--because this gives the photographer and the crew, if there is one, enough time to play with the camera settings and get a feel of how the shots are going to turn out. Soon as the sun peaks out, it's go time and you've only got a certain window of time to get the best photos.

I always tend to shoot between 9-10am, not so early, unless there is a certain look I'm going for. I would advise other models, no matter what experience level you're at, to always shoot before noon. During this time of day, the sun is at its highest peak amd causes horrible glare and harsh shadows on your face. But that doesn't mean that when noon hits, the shoot is automatically over.

Each situation is going to vary upon the weather, if it's overcast, etc. But starting a shoot before noon gives you a better chance of getting the correct lighting. If you look at the proofs of a shoot that started in the morning and went into the afternoon, you'll notice a gradual change in the way the light reflects off of the model and the background.

It may surprise you to know that when the sky is overcast, that's actually the best time to take pictures because there is no harsh glare or shadows from the sun to worry about. So don't cancel any shoots on account of it being overcast, unless it's about to rain, of course.

You don't want to get into a situation where you start too late and then you start to lose sunlight with each passing minute. This causes you to do a rush job and those are no fun and usually don't turn out good quality pictures.

However, shooting at twilight (the time when the sun is setting and the moon is rising) produces some of the most amazing pictures I've seen. Shooting during this time is tricky because you have to be set to go with everything and once twilight hits, you're really racing against the sun to make sure each shot is good.

You only have a few minutes so if something comes up or if there's a delay, you'll lose your chance and will have to wait until the next day. If you want to find out what time twilight is, go to any website that deals with the weather, such as Theweatherchannel.com and look up the temperatures for your town. They normally list what time the sun will set, which is the time you need to set your shoot for.

So it may not be fun getting up at the crack of dawn and you may not feel like you can be beautiful at such a ridiculous hour but this is the golden time for photography so make the most of it. Now you know why I stress so much about the importance of getting enough sleep!

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