This past weekend we had our ON THE SHOOT Workshop. Our goal was simple, to equip the attendees with all they need for a successful shoot. We covered natural light, shooting in manual, gear for the job, styling a shoot, editing, and workflow.

Many of the attendees mentioned wanting to learn how to create photos that are sharp and in focus and POP. It starts with light! And that’s where I came in….I talked all about natural light. My goal was to have each person understand the different types of light, how each type affects your subject, to recognize the light, and lastly how to effectively use each kind of light. We covered open shade, overcast days, window light, directional light, back-light, and reflective light. When I first got my DSLR and set out to create what everybody else made look so easy, I remember feeling so frustrated!! Why did some photos pop and others didn’t? Why are some images….just drab? Soft and not in focus? What is the difference and how can I consistently shoot images that I nailed? Argh!!! But…..with time and shooting and shooting, I starting seeing the light (pun intended). ;-) No really….I really started recognizing light, seeing it, understanding how it worked, learned to make it work for me…..and finally, I learned to LOVE light.

Photography is painting with light! The word photography is derived from the Greek for ‘painting with light’. A photograph is made from the light that enters your camera’s lens and hits the sensor. Without light you would have NOTHING. An awesome location and an awesome subject will not create an awesome photo if the light is not good.




At the workshop I jumped in with OPEN SHADE…

The important word here is *open* shade. You still want your subject FACING THE LIGHT SOURCE. Usually the closer to the edge of that open shade the better. Shooting in open shade is the safest lighting situation.  Exposures come out spot on and the over all lighting is very even and nice. Open shade can be the side of a building or under a tree. It can be your garage (with the door open) or your your front door, or under a tree. Again the key word is OPEN. Open shade is not just any old shade. Open shade is not in the middle of a forest or a dense park with no sunlight in view. Next to a bright sunny spot is perfect. It looks something like this….

 If you are stuck shooting mid day on a sunny day…open shade is your best friend!!! High noon or bright sunlight from mid-morning  to mid afternoon is typically the least desirable type of natural light. If you take photos out in the strong sun you are more likely to get really harsh shadows and blow out the highlights. But sometimes we are stuck shooting at times of day when the lighting is not ideal. Your best chance for getting decent photos in this type of lighting is to find a nice piece of open shade and place your subject at the edge of open shade facing the light. Here is Janae demonstrating using how to use open shade on a sunny day…correct example on the far right.

Paige’s session was in the morning…and by the time we got to this shot….it was briiiiight. The sunlight was slamming down. AND we were in an orchard….to say the least, there was not many shade options. But this apple tree provided shade and I was able to get the shot.

Same scenario. A wedding day is one day you cannot control when you are photographing. Often we end up shooting the bride and groom portraits midday. Open shade is a life saver on sunny wedding days.

The field in front of Maddie was bright sunlight….I put her next to the barn in open shade.

Welp, that’s all for today. If recognizing light is a new concept to you…hope this gets you started….:)

Check back tomorrow for images from the workshop. Talk soon….:)

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  • Ruby Showalter - Great tips!!! Would have loved to have been there for the seminar :)ReplyCancel

  • Char - Next time Ruby! :)ReplyCancel

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