Do you have any tips for controlling light when shooting people in sunlight?
If you look at movies and TV shows closely, you will notice that even in sunlight, actors don’t have deep shadows on their faces. This because cinematographers use fill light to fill in the shadows and control the contrast of the images. This is especially important when filming because the look of all the shots taken at different times have to agree when all the shots are edited together. You may have seen in those behind-the-scenes features that, even in daylight, they use large lights to open up the shadows in scenes to reveal detail in shadow areas. Sometimes they use reflectors, which are portable and don’t require a generator truck to provide power.
You can also use reflectors to open shadows and make photos of people or objects look less harsh in your photos and videos. Of course, there are many reflectors that you can buy, but there are economical solutions as well. A large white piece of poster board or foam core can be used to “bounce” sunlight into shadows in a shot, resulting in a more pleasing image. You may need an assistant to position the board for you while you shoot – professional photographer’s assistants do this often. You can make your own variations on bounce cards to modify the tone of the light being bounced into the shadows. There was a movie shot a few years ago about Mars exploration. To make the scenes look more like the Red Planet in exterior locations, they used reflectors covered with copper foil so the bounce light would look reddish. You can glue aluminum foil to bounce cards to make the reflected light stronger (one side of the card the shiny side of the foil and the other side the dull side for softer bounce light). You can also use gold spray paint on a card to provide warmer light. You can also use a black card close up to provide more contrast, since the black absorbs light rather than reflects it. This is called “negative fill.”
One handy reflector you can buy inexpensively is those folding foil reflectors used in the summer to keep a car cool by reflecting light back out through the windshield. It is a very good reflector and folds up to a small size. You can also buy tanning reflectors.
Reflectors can be used taking available light portraits by window light. Use the window light as the main light and then on the side of the face away from the window, use a bounce card to open up the shadows.
If you like to photograph small subjects outdoors such as flowers and insects, a hand-held mirror makes a very good fill reflector. If it is a two-sided mirror, you can spray one side of the mirror with hairspray to dull it and then you have the option of softer reflected light.
Another accessory you can make is a diffuser. Cut open a translucent trash bag and stretch it across a large hoop, such as an embroidery hoop from a crafts store. When the diffuser is positioned over the subject, the light is less sharp, making the lighting effect softer with more open shadows.
Archive - Compact Cameras:
- Playing back photos and movies
- Printing the date on your photos
- Taking better indoor photos
- Changing resolution
- Best image sizes for emailing
- Avoiding blur in low light
- Taking pictures faster
- Evening out exposure for panoramic sequences
- Digital vs. film ISO
- Grainy pictures
- xD-Picture Card Use and Care
- Black and White with your point and shoot
- Shooting for online auctions
- Panoramic photography
- How do I photograph documents?
- Get images off of internal memory?
- Increasing shot-to-shot speed
- Tips for shooting portraits
- Tips for shooting holiday lights outdoors
- Tips about memory card usage
- My videos I'm not getting any sound. Why?
- Tips for shooting panorama photos
- Minimizing shutter lag
- Transferring your photos to a CD
- Macro photography
- Double exposures and xD card questions
- Battery charging guidelines
- Truer color indoors
- Proper settings and exposure for stage photos
- Minimizing glare from glasses
- Adjusting for photos shot into the sun
- Keeping faces sharp
- Why do I get red-rye?
- Steadying camera in NIGHT Scene mode
- Extending my battery charge?
- Shooting in cold weather
- Using the Macro shooting mode
- Save a zoomed playback image
- Printing from Olympus software
- Low Light Sports Photography
- Shooting indoors in the winter
- Using my camera on a telescope or microscope
- Tips for getting better results using the flash
- Tips for controlling sunlight
Submit your question using the form below and we may feature it in our next edition!
Please note: Questions submitted to Olympus will not receive individual responses.
If you have a specific tech support issue for which you need immediate assistance, please contact our technical support group by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 1-888-55-DIGITAL.