Union Square, New York
33 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 366-9870

A Lesson in Light March 21, 2014

Union Square, Manhattan
A Lesson in Light, Manhattan, New York

Happy Spring everyone! While it may still be on the colder side out there, we thought a lesson in light for beautiful outdoor portraits would warm everyone up!

Thank you to Photoflex for providing this tutorial. For a great selection on Photoflex products, please come visit us at Seventeenth Street Photo, at 33 West 17th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues. For Special Offers on Photoflex Products, please visit http://17stphoto.wordpress.com/special-offers.

Bouncing and Diffusing Light for Outdoor Bridal Portraits

Lighting Equipment

One of the difficulties in shooting weddings or portraits outdoors is that the available light is not always ideal for photographs. In fact, it's usually the opposite. With LitePanels, however, you can effectively modify existing light to make it more visually compelling for your portraits. In this lesson, wedding and portrait photographer Steve Kurtz explores the use of Photoflex LitePanels in modifying natural light while shooting bridal portraits on location.

For this lesson, we photographed two different brides, one with dark features and the other with relatively light features. Keep in mind that different skin tones and eye color can require slightly different lighting treatments.

LitePanel Set-up

Photoflex LitePanels are lightweight reflectors that are easy to set up. The series of photos below show how the panel frame unfolds and sets up.

Here, we see the White Translucent fabric being attached.

Diffusing Sunlight

With our first bride in position, we first wanted to show how to diffuse sunlight using a single LitePanel with White Translucent fabric. In this first result shot, the bride is placed in direct, high-contrast sunlight. Notice how she is turned at an angle to the light. Once the LitePanel is in position, you'll see how it will soften the contrast, yet maintain the three-dimensional quality.

Next, our assistant held the LitePanel between the sun and the bride. You can use a LiteStand to hold the LitePanel, but many wedding photographers prefer to use an assistant on a wedding shoot, since the pace is usually fast. The quicker you can move your gear around, the better.

In the result shot, we see a soft light quality that wraps around the bride's face and body.

Reflecting Sunlight

Next, we decided to use reflective fabric (rather than translucent fabric) to bounce sunlight into that shadow areas of the brides.

For the full-length bridal portrait, the bride was placed in a shady spot where the sun illuminated the patio a few feet in front of her. If you're going to use a reflector as the main light on your subject, it's usually best to choose a backlit setting. This allows you to reflect sunlight or skylight back into the shadow areas of your subject. Here, we chose an uncluttered natural background for the first bride.

This set-up shows the assistant holding the Soft Gold LitePanel. Notice that the Panel is off to one side defining the direction of light and the panel is slightly tilted. The other advantage with having an assistant is that they can see the light hitting the subject and can adjust the angle as needed. Here, we chose the Soft Gold fabric to provide a warm glow light for the bride.

This second perspective shows the distance and angle of the LitePanel to the bride.

Next, we took some shots with the second bride. For comparison sake, we first took a shot without the LitePanel fill (only indirect sunlight captured here) and then used the LitePanel with Soft Gold fabric as a fill.

The light in the shot without the fill is relatively flat compared to the light in the shot with the fill, which looks more directional. Another benefit is that the bride's eyes and facial features stand out more with the LitePanel bounce fill.

The 5-n-1 Reflector

When you need to travel with less equipment, you can substitute your LitePanel system with either the Photoflex 42" MultiDisc 5-in-1 Kit, which features 5 collapsible reflectors, or the new 42" MultiDisc 7-in-1 Kit, which features 7 collapsible reflectors.

Below, you can see the set-up and results of using the more compact MultiDisc gold reflector.

One of the primary advantages to using both the LitePanel Kit and the 5-in-1 MultiDisc Kit is that you have the ability to use different reflective fabrics. The series below shows the results with the White, Silver, and Gold fabrics.

Conclusion

Managing outdoor lighting situations can be easy if you have the right tools. Note that this lesson has only touched on the basics of additive lighting.

To see more of Steve Kurtz's work, visit his Pro Showcase page.

Other Announcements, Events and Deals from 17th Street Photo
What is Your Dream Photo Outing?, Manhattan, New York
Stay in the know with Seventeenth Street Photo!What is your dream photo outing?Last week I talked about underwater photography, and gave some tips from Scott Gietler and hissite Unde...read more
Call or Come in NOW to be added to the Sony A6000 Wait List!, Manhattan, New York
Photographers, Sony Fans, Mirrorless lovers rejoice! Excitement is swirling around Sony's new A6000 Mirrorless Camera!Quantities are limited, but we are open all this week for you to...read more
Shooting at Home with Seventeenth Street Photo, Manhattan, New York
So last week we asked what was keeping you inspired in this gloomy winter weather. It then occurred to us that we had to find projects for ourselves to do indoors.Our Photoflex offe...read more
Show Us Your Shots!, Manhattan, New York
Seventeenth Street Photo wants you to Show Us Your Shots! When we ask, we might just pull your shot out from the rest and reward you with recognition and a special prize!So, what are...read more