Dad’s Photography Corner: Sunny Days & Shadow Woes
So, not much has happened since my last post. Created a website on Zenfolio, scheduled my very first appointment for a photo shoot, drafted up price lists and customer FAQs, you know…the usual. You can’t see me right now, but I’m jumping up and down like a little school boy who bagged his very first rare Pokémon. Okay, obligatory update over.
Summer is upon us and I thought to myself, “Hey, it’s sunny out…great for photos, right!?” Holy blown-out sky Batman, was I in for a rude awakening. Of course, I didn’t know it until after I got home from the park and checked them out on my laptop. My ego took a big hit that day as I saw that every four out of five photos looked too bright or too dark. At that point in time, I was familiar enough with Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 to adjust the exposure. Before you ask, yes, I was shooting in RAW. This fixed part of the picture, but made the rest of it look worse. The sky would look fine after I was done, but the person I had photographed had shadows coming out of their nose.
This was probably my very first obstacle that I had to deal with as an amateur photographer and I’ll be honest, I’m still trying to perfect it. I underestimated how important lighting was and how key it is to get it right BEFORE you take the picture. A friend of mine showed me some tricks in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 that involved layers and layer masks, but I wanted to know how to fix the problem before it started. As I said, it’s not easy, and I sometimes still get it wrong.
What I’ve gotten in the habit of doing is taking two photos of the very same shot, one with a flash and one without. Taking two pictures allows me to save great shots that I’d otherwise have to discard by combining the best parts of them in Adobe. My next hurdle is trying to read that exposure chart on the LCD that comes up beside each photo I take. I believe they call it metering. I’m not at the point yet where I can read my LCD and make adjustments on the fly, but I believe if I can master this, I’ll be one step closer to being among the pros. Eventually, I’ll get to the point where I can say “Yeah, I can set my exposure to -1 and get away with not using a flash if I do this, this, and this”.
To sum things up, sunny days, I’ve learned, is a very challenging environment in which to shoot. Cloudy days and shaded areas work better, simply because the lighting is equal throughout the picture. I’ve been looking at reflector kits on Amazon, which either block unwanted light or reflect wanted light into areas of the subject that are casting shadows. If any of you folks use them and can recommend a kit or brand, please feel free to leave a comment below. I don’t have an assistant to hold the reflectors, so anything that can stand on its own is preferable.
Stay tuned for more random musings of an amateur photographer!