One thing I am constantly being asked about is how I light things and how I control natural light. I love shooting with available light because I love the reality of it but available light doesn’t mean that it isn’t controlled. In this post I am going to talk a little bit about how I control light and how I shoot backlit.
First of all, If you don’t have a 5 in 1 reflector, I recommend that you get one. These things are key in controlling natural light.
When shooting backlit (with the sun behind the subject) remember that is okay to blow out the background as long as your subject is not over exposed. When you shoot like this don’t be discouraged when your photo turns out super washed out. Take it into whatever editing program you use and work with the contrast. you can bring detail back into a washed out photo as long as the area you want detail in isn’t blown out. You can use your reflector (with the white side exposed) to bounce the sunlight coming from behind them onto the subject.
Another thing to remember when using natural light is that you can get harsh shadows. Your reflector can get rid of these. For example:
In the image above the sun was behind me and pretty high in the sky. I used the white side of my reflector under her face to bounce some light up the the areas that her hat was blocking the sun. That took away the harsh shadows and made some awesome even lighting.
Another way you can battle harsh lights with the 5 in 1 reflector is to take off the cover. What you will have left is a circular diffuser screen. This will diffuse the sunlight so it hits the subject evenly. In the image below I had a diffuser screen blocking the sun.
The best advice I can give to help you improve lighting in your photos is to go shoot. Go see how light works. Put your subject next to a wall and see how the light bounces of the wall and onto your subject. Shoot on a beach and see how the sand acts as a reflector. Keep shooting. Thats the only way to get better.
Hope that helps!