Going out to shoot
Summer is a time where us Canadians rejoice on the fact that we spend more time living and less time just trying to survive the dead cold and snow of winter. It is a happy time where many people can go out, BBQ, eat on a terrace at any time of the day. Yes we are not constrained by time in any way when it comes to the great outdoors. So, to me, I thought that my photography would be the same way. But summer brings about a complication on lighting that I knew existed but did not deem that important.
Natural light for photography in the summer time
You see. When it comes to lighting, there is actually a point where light can be too abundant. This will be the case for all sunny days in summer from about the end of May to the beginning of September between the hours of 10:30AM and 6:30PM (at least in Quebec, Canada). The problem arises when the sun’s angle gets high in the summer months. First and foremost, the light coming down is direct and intense. It is a light that is, by no means, soft in any sort of way. You are stuck with high contrast images and little to no leeway to do anything in post on correcting the matter. Remember that you can correct what is underblown in post but not what is overblown. Secondly, that high angle creates a nightmare for shooting beauty shots as it creates unwanted harsh shadows in the eyes , nose, and chin area.
The Montmorency falls
I had recently done a photo shoot with a girl named Claudia Loupret. We talked to each other and decided to go out and photograph at a place called the Montmorency falls just outside of the Quebec city area. It is, by all intents and purposes, smaller yet as spectacular as Niagara Falls on the US/Canadian border. It offers a fantastic, yet sometimes wet, backdrop for taking spectacular portrait pictures. The advantage it has over Niagara Falls though is the fact that it also offers much more standing space near the base of the falls where you would need to pose for a portrait in front of the falls. Niagara falls only offers this option if you actually take the boat out to the base.
A change of concept
Faced with our busy schedule and time constraints, both Claudia and I had no choice but to photograph at that time you do not want to shoot on a sunny day. I quickly realized, by looking at my camera playback screen that I was looking at a whole session of shots with harsh highlights and shadows and very contrasty stuff. Not to mention a full makeup job that was just not going to show in the slightest. My initial concept was to show a beautiful glamorous girl with beautiful backdrops but I wrote that off really quick. I was now going to push the concept a pretty girl doing all the stereotypical Instagram poses. Knowing I could get away with that these poses done either heads down or with glasses on. Claudia had sunglasses so it would allow me the excuse of covering her eyes and making some cool shots with the day I was dished.
Be Flexible Claudia was the perfect girl for that
This photo shoot brought home the idea that it is super important to be flexible if flexibility is not part of your reality. For us, time was not available so we had to make do. But we adjusted our photographic concept to take what we had and make something good out of it. The old adage that when you are dealt a lemon, you got to make lemonade. Which brings me to the model I had chose to do this photo shoot. Claudia was flexible to change for the shoot. Even though she recently suddenly lost her father she was open to the changes that we had to make to get the shot. I am greatful that I had to turn around quickly in the company of Claudia and not someone else.
It is so important to have a plan when doing a photoshoot but more important than that is to have the creative flexibility to change that plan if things are not as you want them to. Leave your mind open to what might be right under your nose. Who knows. It might be more magical that what you originally wanted to do.
The Cameras I shot with
The equipment I used for this shoot (Amazon links to purchase these products will be at the foot of this page)
- Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless camera body
- Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 for the outdooshots
- Fujinon 35mm f/2 for the portraits indoors
- Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 for the indoor portraits
I do offer the idea of flexibility in my 17 tips video I did a while back. This blog post is basically one of the 17 points I made during that video