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Photography Question 
Amber D. Jones
 

Photography with Natural Lighting


Okay, as I've heard from quite a few people: It is okay to take pictures using a backdrop and not use any fancy equipment. But I really need some pointers on this. I mean is taking them outside a good idea? A few people have said to place my backdrop adjacent to a window, so the sun is shining in. But I think I might just take my whole backdrop system and set it up outside. Will that work???


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8/12/2005 10:07:23 AM

 
Amber D. Jones  


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8/12/2005 10:49:02 AM

 
Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  You could try it outside, especially on an overcast day or early in the morning or late at night. In direct light -no. You can try in shade, but I often get a strange blueish colorcast in my shady photos. I can fix it in PS, but I like the quality of diffused sunlight the best (clouds). Good luck,
Karma


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8/12/2005 10:55:20 AM

 
Amber D. Jones   Thanks Karma. .I was planning on taking these photos around sunset tonight. That would probably get me the effect I'm looking for. And I have definitely tried my hand at direct light. NO MORE OF THAT. Every picture that I took, the subject had really dark shadows on their faces. Not a good thing!!!
Thanks again!!!


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8/12/2005 10:59:49 AM

 
Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  Just remember to get your subject about 5 feet in front of the backdrop, and use a reflector if you need to deal with shadows. A piece of white cardboard works fine, and I've also used silver cookie sheets. The best reflector I've ever found is a field of golden grass believe it or not. If you shoot in that the whole field acts as a reflector and the even amount of light is amazing. I take all of my kids' portraits in late summer to get that nice, even reflection from the field grass! :-)
Karma


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8/12/2005 11:05:54 AM

 
Amber D. Jones   Trust Me...I am so new at this sort of photography...I am really good at outdoor pictures that don't deal with all that technical stuff...so, pardon me when I ask...What exactly do I do with the cardboard or cookie sheet???


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8/12/2005 11:11:26 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
  Pray for a passing cloud - or, better yet, total overcast or haze to diffuse the sun. Barring these scenarios, you will have shadows on your background, or in other places where they may not be flattering to your subject(s).
You could try moving the background material back a little, away from the subject so the shadows will dissipate or fall out-of-frame.
When shooting outdoors, I prefer natural backgrounds to studio set-ups.
I position my camera and compose my subjects in a way that will make the best of the light that's available. Usually, the sun is behind me ... on an angle, but not always.
Shadows on a natural background are more acceptable (to me, anyway) than when they appear on something I've set up.
Sometimes a "halo" of light works better and I'll shoot into a rising or setting sun. Exposure for this can be tricky, and you may need flash-fill to bring out the detail of your subject.


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8/12/2005 11:12:08 AM

 
Amber D. Jones   This is the thing though...I don't have a flash fill or money to buy one...I'm getting married in 3 months and all my extra cash is going to wedding or savings...I really love taking outdoor pictures with natural backgrounds...that is my specialty. But I have to use a backdrop in this case...and I have no studio lights whatsoever...CAMERA-BACKDROPS-SUBJECT-AND THAT'S IT!!!


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8/12/2005 11:21:46 AM

 
Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  Bring a chair with you. Put your cardboard at an angle, facing up towards your subject so it is reflecting light to shadows cast under the eye, etc. Experiment and you'll get it right. You could bring several pieces and reflect to the background as well. What type of background are you using? If it's white/black, you can considerably touch it up in PS. I have done this.
Karma


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8/12/2005 11:40:16 AM

 
Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  Amber, I don't know if it's too late. But I hope your shoot goes well. The fill flash can be the one on your camera. Good luck to you! (Hope it's not too windy!)


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8/12/2005 2:37:23 PM

 
Sherri Wiggins   Hi Amber,
You should be fine if you do like others have suggested. I did this once. I was using a white background and had a little girl in a light pink dress. The wind was actually blowing a little but I took several pictures and it was overcast some and the pictures turned out really good. In fact, one of the pictures won "Most Photogenic" in a beauty pageant later that year. Everyone is correct, it can be tricky but it can be done. Hope it works out great!


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8/16/2005 6:11:51 AM

 
Amber D. Jones   But did your pictures have any shadows outlining the subject?


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8/16/2005 9:40:27 AM

 
Maria Melnyk   I'm not sure what to comment on this. You all gave great suggestions, but I'm trying to figure out why it's necessary to use a backdrop outdoors rather than having the outdoors as your backdrop. Especially at sunset; twilight pictures are beautiful!

I tried this only once, but even the slightest breeze made my backdrop wobble and start to fall. I never took the photos; I took everything down and did the portraits in the subjects' backyard instead, and they loved them.

And, with the outdoors, you can do so many more creative poses than with a backdrop. And you'll save yourself a lot of trouble and set-up time.

Oh, well, but if you still want to use that backdrop, then I guess it's OK.


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8/16/2005 10:28:37 AM

 
Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  I got the feeling that the backdrop was necessary because the photo was for a specific format that required the backdrop. I could be wrong though.

I agree, I'd rather use natural backdrops outside, but the poster said she would rather too, but for this photo she needed to use a backdrop.

Karma


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8/16/2005 10:36:00 AM

 
Sherri Wiggins   No. There were no shadows. I will try to post the image later and let you know so you can look at it. It was a really good picture. I used a Nikon D70 with an off camera flash.


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8/16/2005 11:35:51 AM

 
Shirley D. Cross
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/7/2001
Contact Shirley
Shirley's Gallery
  As far as shooting in shade, it works beautifully. Just use a warming filter to avoid the bluish cast.

I have taken thousands of outdoor portraits in beautiful settings of all kinds. Much nicer than an artificial backdrop. One of my favorite things is backlighting, but it can be tricky. Check out my gallery on this site.


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8/16/2005 6:28:39 PM

 
Norbert Maile   Hello Amber. Natural lighting is great but not always predictable. If you are using a back drop anyway, why not buy a set of three hotlights with daylight bulbs. you can buy a low cost set to get started for $200 and with daylight bulbs you don't need any special filters. It works! For outside shots you should have a reflector which you can also use inside. Just a thought. It is realy not as much equipment as you might think.


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8/16/2005 10:46:05 PM

 
Amber D. Jones   Right...I have to use a backdrop for this shoot. I specialize in outdoor photos, so I know how beautiful it is for a backdrop. But like I said a backdrop is neccessary for this shoot. I don't have lights to set up indoors, so I was just going to rely on natural light.
Oh yeah, and by the way, I don't think I had any trouble at all with a wobbly backdrop. Everything as far as that goes was fine.
I'm getting my pictures back in a few hours, so I'll let you guys know how they turned out if I get a chande. If not I'll let you know tommorrow.
Thanks for all your help.


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8/17/2005 11:35:38 AM

 
Amber D. Jones   Pictures turned out really good guys!
Thanks for all your help. I'll try to upload a few later so you can see them, but that'll be later on...after work. Thanks again.


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8/18/2005 5:26:00 AM

 
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