Cold Weather, Warm Images

On July 8, 2012 by Simon Fleming

This time of year you just never know what you are going to get weather wise, which for an outdoor shoot can make things ‘interesting’. A few Sunday’s back I had a late afternoon family portrait shoot booked, and after raining through the day it thankfully turned out to be pretty good for the last few remaining ours of daylight… cold but no wind or rain.

Jose and his family were great – really nice people, which makes your job as a photographer so much easier. It also shines through in the images – genuinely nice people tend to look just that.

We started things off at their home with everyone dressed a little more formally for some more ‘traditional’ looking portraits before heading up a nearby hill for the remainder of the shoot (again, I thank Mother Nature for being kind that afternoon). After rearranging some furniture I managed to create a relatively clean space to shoot against, and using a 70-200 lens to compress the narrow zone I had to shoot within. I ended up shooting from within another room and through the front hallway into their lounge. The things we do for a photograph – I’m sure to many subjects we photographers must look a little daft in our methods. I had my assistant/VAL Ros hanging onto a paint pole with an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra head firing through a 60″ umbrella, out of view in the lounge room with the family. We then just moved 90 degrees (I’m now shooting from their kitchen) to create a different look against some timber venetian blinds.

We came away with some nice images. I really enjoy this part of location photography where you are challenged to make something work in an environment you have never seen before. I think wedding photography prepares you for quite well for this as time is never on your side, and you are often faced with nightmarish lighting conditions and ‘interesting’ environments to work your magic within.

After we all drove up to the hill to a local park I completely changed my plan of attack (which I am prone to do) after seeing what the light was doing, and ‘where it was doing it’. It was really quite cold up there but there was absolutely brilliant sunlight streaming through some trees which almost made them look like they were on fire, and gave a really warm feel to the pictures. Again, Ros was acting as my VAL with the Ranger quadra on a paint pole firing throughout the 60″ umbrella. The umbrella is as close as I can get it into the shot, and aimed fairly level to slightly up to keep them in the nice feathered edge of the light. This also controls the spill from the umbrella down low a bit better. All are shot with at 70-200 at around 200mm. The Quadra is gelled with a half cut of CTO to keep the light on them warm like the sunlight. I do have larger soft boxes which could deal with this sized group, and would give more precise control over the light but decided to go with this option for a faster setup and run & gun type operation. Plus I find it’s always good to keep changing things around – I find I learn things about my gear and modifiers much better, and I don’t go ‘stale’ shooting the same look all the time.

To finish things off, and to also add another look to the shoot we just changed angles and took more of the view from the hill into consideration. Now the sun had all but disappeared we had a very different looking sky and exposure to work with. Same lighting setup, just aiming there umbrella high to feather off the light down low a little better, plus I added a few strips of gaffers tape to flag the spill from the bottom of the light – keeping the grass in the foreground from going too hot.



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