View Full Version : choosing a location. no lights

04-02-2011, 03:48 AM
Please add to my knowledge. I havent done too many portraits.
no flash or strobes, with reflectors.

Sun as the main light. Positioned 45 degrees from the sublect/camera. Reflector - fill light
find a position where trees or scrims or clouds that will difuse the light.

Sun as hair light, positioned behind the subject. Reflector as the main light. (will there be some problems projecting the fill light from below the subject? I.e. Vampire lighting? Can i direct the light downward or eyelevel to produce a more traditional result?

04-02-2011, 08:49 AM
All these things work, the real question with a portrait is, what do you want?

For backlighting examples you might look at Jose Villa's work. Just google for his sites and blog. The majority of his stuff is backlit and sans reflector too.

When you use any type of artificial light in the situations you describe you are essentially going to set the camera exposure to place the background where you want it then adjust your reflector (or strobe) to place the subject brightness where you want it in that scene.

By changing the shape of the reflector, the distance to the subject, and using "feathering" you can adjust quite nicely. An incident meter and a stand or assistant will help immensely.

David William White
04-02-2011, 09:07 AM
Lots of possibilities if you have time, and viewing stopped-down under a darkcloth also helps to see where the highlights will be. For example, stop all the way down, then open up till you see your hair light, then see if one more stop brings up the face, moving the reflector in. If you have the time.

However, for simplicity, consider also using the sun as the main light, but eclipsed with a hoop of any white diffusion fabric held aloft by an assistant or stand. Sun will be softened, sitter will be comfortable and won't squint, and it will look very natural and pleasing; and when moved in close, you won't need to fill. I used to use fabric held to a hoola-hoop with clothespins.

Elizabeth C.
04-29-2011, 01:08 AM
Look for open shade or areas where buildings can provide fill light. If you live near a downtown area, look for glass buildings in sunlight and have your subject face that building. Industrial areas can provide outstanding light. You can also find places where lighter color concrete can work as fill but be careful of the halloween shadows. Make sure you also have another light source in front of your subject for main light.

Going for a walk and just looking for cool light is a fun experiment. Something definitely worth doing if you're thinking of using a lot of natural light for portrait work.

I really love shooting natural light without modifiers. Takes some work and some patience, but don't be afraid to experiment with the light you find.


You can do even more if you learn to use reflectors well, as Mark suggested above.