Despite the stormy weather forecasts, we got a beautiful day here during this long weekend. I wanted to take some shots of my most summer-y figure enjoying the sun!
Capturing a sunny day might be as simple as taking a natural light photo outside. However I wound up making this shoot somewhat complicated. My balcony was in the shadow of my building so the figure wouldn’t get direct sunlight. The natural light version of this photo didn’t adequately reflect the beautiful weather.
To remedy this I decided to use a flash. Typically you would expose for the ambient light, and then dial in the flash for your subject. Sometimes this is difficult on sunny days because most cameras with focal-plane shutters don’t have very high flash sync speeds, so you end up having to stop down your aperture. This in turn means you need to up your flash output. In some situations the output required exceeds what a single flash can provide.
For a subject like a PVC figure, though, this is less of an issue because you can bring the flash in very close without having it in your frame. For this shot I had my flash around 1/16 power (guide number 108 ft), which was plenty even at f/11.
The other challenge was a creative one, in that I had to make the flash look more like natural sunlight without making the shadows too harsh. My usual softbox was too soft in this case, and the scene ended up looking greenscreened. So I went with a smaller softbox at a high angle, with a white reflector to provide some fill. That ended up looking the most natural.
I took two versions of this shot, one at 160 mm and one at around 46 mm. I think the shorter focal length worked out better as it captured more of the city below. Generally I like telephoto focal lengths in order to limit how much of the background gets into the shot, but this time it felt better to include more.
When I’m shooting on my tabletop, the main creative challenge is making a set or backdrop to go with the figure. The photographic process itself is familiar. But today – mostly on a whim – I ended up creating a photographic exercise for myself as I had to put much more thought into the composition and lighting of the final picture. It was a nice reminder to step out of my comfort zone every once in a while.