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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Shooting at the beach.... flash or no flash?

YAY for Michigan beaches and Sunsets!  I used to worry so much about beach sessions with big families because the lighting is super tough!  But, with the Paul C. Buff Einstein 640 flash, these sessions have become some of my favorites!   I want to give you a quick example of how flash has impact on the final image.  Here are 2 shots of the same family at the beach.  In the first, I exposed for their skin, which was several stops over exposing the shot.... In doing so, you can tell by the beach grass and a slight gray tonal shift in the back ground that they are by the water, but it's not terribly flattering.  Then, adding one flash, even without a modifier, the next shot pulls out the vibrance of bold color, and brings that sunset into it's full glory!  There's no doubt, they are at the beach, and other than working with a few 'harsh' shadows, the image was pretty well ready to show without editing.  ( I did a small burning in the bottom corners and removed a few of those 'sensor' specks from letting my camera sensor get a little too dirty this year....)

Tips for shooting at the beach :

1.  Get the sun BEHIND your clients.  Rim light is one of the bigger tricks to a beautiful image, and looking more professional.
 This has been something we've done now for a long long time.  I realize that the sun is a great source of light, and can be utilized in many ways.... but instead of allowing your clients a blinding experience, turn their backs to the sun (usually about 15-30 degrees over their shoulder one side or the other)  Your clients will appreciate being able to see you, (and while looking at you, make sure you are wearing a color easy to look at... white looks great but can be as blinding as the sun.... if you wear green, you might cast some reflected green back at your clients and wonder why your images have green highlights..... ) and not be squinting through their session.  You'd need manual settings for this, because you'll need to expose to see their faces, not the sky... unless you're trying for silhouettes.

2. Don't be afraid to do more casual, artistic shots to add in their collection.  Let them have some play time of family interaction.  Some people value those most because it brings out their true smiles and personalities.  Life style photographers do this really well.... but mix it into your style just a little.

3. Pull out an OCF (off camera flash) for a few shots... if you have a low power flash, use it when the sun isn't as bright to get a great vibrance of color, or if there's still bright sun light use it as a fill flash,  (it won't be powerful enough to get the whole family lit well) to have a little less of the white washed look.  TRY to use your flash at 15-30 degrees to the side, and up higher than their eye level.  It's so easy to keep it on the camera, but just the location of the flash shows a difference between the amateur or professional look.
 Also, I shoot jpeg and RAW so if I need a few images brought back from a mistake with my exposure, I have the information in the file to do so.

Photo #1 is  1/80 shutter  200 ISO f5.0 at 50mm with the 24-70mm Nikon lens on a D3s.

Photo #2 is 1/250 shutter, 200 ISO, f5.6 at 44mm with the 24-70mm Nikon lens on a D3s.

 This shot is under exposed so the details of the sky and water were enhanced, and then run through a Florabella preset in Adobe Photoshop to get the warmer purple/pink cast and a matte, to numb the contrast a little.
Image settings :  1/200 shutter, 200 ISO f5.6 at 24mm on the 24-70mm nikon lens on the d3s.
Notice how the settings are almost identical to image #2 above?  See how the same settings brought out 2 totally different looks, just one with flash and one without?  Cool, eh?
 It was pretty dark by the time I took this photo.  A flash would have been necessary unless you really like that dull super grainy look.... no thank you.  The flash is about 10 degrees to my right.
 Hopefully you enjoyed this post, and can put a few tips to practice!

www.awakenedimages.com . David & Cara Williams . awakenedimages@yahoo.com . check us out on facebook!