Friday, September 13, 2013

Sunrise Portraits

Over the past year or so I have been riding my bicycle to work.  The round trip covers approximately 30km and part of my enthusiasm for riding to work is created by the amazing sunrise I get to witness during the trip this time of year.  I ride past a field every morning that is absolutely beautiful and I've been trying to convince a subject, any subject, that waking up before sunrise would be worth their while.  I eventually got in touch with one person who I was able to convince.

We arrived at the field at about 6:00am.  The lighting setup we used is diagrammed below.  We gelled the strobe with a full cut of CTO to help balance the speedlight temperature with the sunrise and shot it into silver umbrella in order to compete with the power of the rising sun.  For those interested, we used the following settings.

f-stop: 5.6
shutter: 1/200
ISO: 800
Flash power: 1/4 (gelled with full CTO)

The example below is the best of the bunch.

With regard to subject posing, we found the most success when we had her look directly into the speedlight/umbrella combination and moved the umbrellas as close as possible to soften the light.  Also, using the grass as an out-of-focus foreground element helped to draw the viewer's eye to the subject.

The big takeaways from this shoot were first, balancing the ambient light with the flash temperature is mandatory if you want to create a ambient light look.  Second, paying attention to harsh shadows and adjusting your lighting setup and posing (moving the light closer and having the subject look into the light) are important.  Finally, arriving about 45 minutes before sunrise helped to give us the pastel like colours in the sky that you see.  If you want this look you have to either get there before sunrise of be patient enough to wait until well after the sun has gone down.  Also, the opportunity to capture these colors only lasts minutes so be ready.

Overall, I had a great time and learned a ton.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Today I wanted to write a quick blog post about a fantastic Photoshop resource ... and it is free!  It is called Phlearn.  The I found them on Youtube but you can subscribe to their website.  They offer a ton of fantastic free videos and also sell more complicated tutorials called "Phlearn Pros".  I'm submitting one of my photos for their sunset contest below.  This is a sunset behind a famous Bulgarian communist monument called Buzludja.  It is currently boarded up but the adventurous can get inside if you are willing to scramble through a few holes.  It is definitely worth it.  You can check out the link to the Phlearn website and Youtube channel if you are interested.  Enjoy!