A quick lighting lesson for outdoor portrait sessions.
Devin is an amazing young woman and full of life. Her senior portrait session was a blast for us all. At one point, we were walking from one spot to another (shade to shade – we are in Arizona, after all) and I fell in love with the idea of Devin with her ukulele in this corn field. Cute right? Also very difficult to light naturally, because we are in direct sunlight.
So, I am going to give you the quick recipe for a bright sunlit scenario:
1. Turn your subject away from the sun. This give you a nice rim light to separate her from the background and it keeps her from squinting into the sun. And it keeps her face in her own shadow.
2. Light her with a powerful flash, but NOT from the camera. Our flash is coming from off the left side of the frame, as close to the frame as possible. Lighting her from the side keeps the subject full of volume, rather than flattening her out and looking like an obvious flash. On camera flash is the worst kind of flash.
3. To match the power of the sun, you will need a lot of light from your flash. Whatever flash you have (mine was a Profoto B2) you can increase its power and size by using a deep silver umbrella (on any flash) which will magnify the light by nearly double. So, even if you have a speedlight… you can double its power by using a Profoto Deep Silver Umbrella. Make sure to push the flash all the way into the umbrella.
4. Play with the power of your flash until you have the right mix of ambient light from the sun and flash light from the flash. Notice that we did not lover the ambient light so that everything was dark and rich blue, because it was a bright sunny day. We let it feel that way in the shot and then simply added light on her face to fill in the shadows under the hat and on the entire camera side of her body. But not so bright that we lost the feel of he being in her own shadow.
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Lighting with one light is simple, if you pay attention to and use the light you already have and just use your one additional light to augment the light that already exists. Don’t fight the light, work with it. Let God do 90% of the work and you just do the other 10%.
P.S. Contrary to her look in the behind the scenes photo, Devin was having a good time. But I think there may have been a bee flying around.
Happy Birthday to Photoshop this month as it hits its 25th Birthday! While I was at creativeLIVE for Photoshop Week 2015, a number of instructors (including me) had the opportunity to travel back in time and use Photoshop 1.0.
This was something I used as a sophomore in college in the early 1990s. That’s right, LAST CENTURY!
When people talk about how things were built better back in the day, or that life was better way back when, they are obviously not considering the explosive chemistry in a 19th century darkroom, the weight and fragility of glass plate negatives, covered wagons or Photoshop 1.0. I for one, would like to say thank you to all those inventors and smart people who have improved our lives over the past 150 years. I don’t miss the darkroom, I don’t miss polyester pants and I don’t miss Photoshop 1.0.
I had the opportunity to shoot a wedding in Ripe, England with the Panasonic GH4. This camera is a compact, light-weight camera with lenses so small you can fit them in the pocket of your jacket. I have always carried around a little Canon point and shoot that takes RAW images, but no point and shoot can match the experience of a SLR style, through the lens viewfinder experience. So the GH4 made for the perfect traveling companion. I kept it with me throughout the wedding, and as I traveled throughout the country before and after the job. While I shot, I has little experiments in mind, like latitude experiments and macro experiments, low light and motion experiments. I have posted the results here in the blog. The incredible thing about this little camera is that it also captures 4k video as well, but we will stick with the still photos for this post.
My total experience with the Panasonic GH4 was wonderful. It’s small and lightweight body and lenses make it the perfect camera for hiking, and traveling. The quality is quite good and when compared to any small sensor camera, is absolutely fantastic. One could use the camera as their only camera and carry four times the lenses in half the space. Using it in conjunction with my smart phone was helpful as well. Rather than taking decent photos on my iPhone to post on social media, I was able to take superior images on the GH4 and send them to my phone for social media purposes.
The only draw back on the camera is the increase in depth of field due to the chip size and lens lengths. But that is a standard issue with micro four-thirds cameras. For those of us who like to live on the edge of focus, it feels like a limitation. But you get used to the feeling of having all your photos in focus and after a while, it stops feeling like a limitation and starts feeling like a blessing.
Panasonic is making exciting things for photo enthusiasts and pros alike. My good friend and photographer, Isaac Bailey, shoots with a Panasonic micro four-thirds camera and here’s what he has to say about it:
“I love my Panasonic mirrorless camera. It has opened a new realm of fun in personal photography for me. Using the control I get from my big DSLR with tiny size and weight, I can really go anywhere with this baby and make great shots” -Isaac Bailey Photographer Phoenix
Traveling with a camera is the only thing I know. I have never been able to go anywhere without needing a camera with me, but there is always a battle between high quality and compact size. The micro four-thirds market has opened up a new world of possibilities for compact PLUS quality and Panasonic is leading the charge. Heavy cameras may be a thing of the past in the not too distant future. Hurray for that!
I am looking out into the new year and looking at my travel and lecture schedule which gets more and more complicated and crowded every day and I wonder what things I will see and who I will meet this year. And more importantly I hope I will be able to able to be a force for change in people’s lives. I love hearing from people who say their lives have changed as a result of the things they have learned from me. That is why I teach. I love to unlock doors for people.
Follow my schedule on the right hand side of my blog here and find a lecture or a workshop near you and come join me. If you can’t make it to a workshop or a convention like WPPI or Imaging USA, join me online at creativeLIVE.com.
For those of you interested in an adventure… join me in Krakow, Poland in August: www.poland.mzed.com
I wish you all the very best this year.
Jennifer and Brad were married in the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona and their reception was held at the Paradise Valley Country Club in Paradise Valley, Arizona. There were a lot of bride’s maids and groomsmen and all of them were lively and fun. The wedding was great fun. Here are a few of my favorite images from the day.
One of the bride’s maids was taking little Polaroid shots during the day. I thought they were cool, so I made my own, but the bride’s maid can pretend she took this Polaroid too. I won’t tell anyone.
This shot was taken by my second shooter, Ray who was following the groom and groom’s men around during the day. I love the composition on this shot.
I love mirrors, moms and that connection of sweet pride. That has got to be one of the most grand moments in a mother’s life.
Everyone learned how to tie a real bow tie. A skill all men should have. Loose the fake bow ties, always go real!
Jennifer, the bride, looked like a million bucks. The dress was perfect, her hair was done just right… what a beautiful sight for Brad at their first look before the wedding.
I don’t recall what was so funny, but not everyone was amused, which is why love the shot so much.
While you are in a long wedding ceremony, or church even, smart phones with data packages have made anything entertaining. There were a lot of football fans at this wedding. In fact, I recall announcements on scores being issued at the reception.
The is one of my favorite shots from a recessional in a long time.
The from door on the church was perfect for a photograph and the sun was on its way down, so we had a perfect moment of light (for about 2 minutes), then it was gone. If you are the tech type, this was taken with a slow shutter speed to burn in a darkening sky. The couple is in complete ambient darkness and lit by a Profoto B1 off camera flash with a soft box.
Jennifer makes the dress look great!
One of my favorite parts of the day is the reception and particularly the toasts. Most of the time, a toast looks best in black and white.
The other side of the toast!
The bride loved the doors at the Paradise Valley country club. So we set up a shot at the main entrance. It was pretty dark out there, but two Profoto B1 lights did the trick. One was lighting them and the other was filling in a general bounce to give us detail in the shadows.
This next series was a lot of fun. They had a cigar box for anyone who wanted to have one. So all the guys gathered on the back patio of the country club, and we shot away.
I have to thank Megan, from M.C. Weddings and Events for all of her work on this wedding. Having a coordinator on a wedding changes everything.
Wedding Photography: Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Wedding Videography: Serendipity
Wedding Location: Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona
Wedding Reception Location: Paradise Valley Country Club, Paradise Valley, Arizona
Office Hours LR Aperture Import from Jared Platt on Vimeo. Finally, there is a way to take your entire iPhoto or Aperture library and import it into Lightroom. This video will show you how to accomplish this task. Now you can take all those photos that have been held hostage by Apple’s ridiculously bad photo software and get them into a system that makes sense. You will need to download the latest version of Lightroom 5 and Adobe’s Aperture Importer plugin for Lightroom, which I show you how to do on this video.
This interview with me from Blurb Books just ran via PDN. I thought you might be interested in the content of the interview as well as the great discount for blurb books. Enjoy the interview…
Jared Platt is a commercial photographer, portraitist, and educator based in Arizona who regularly runs workshops and webinars for Profoto and CreativeLive. He’s also an Adobe® Lightroom® devotee and a strong believer in the power of photography to tell stories. When he recently appeared on a CreativeLive segment, he impressed us with his thoughts on music, rhythm, and the photographic story arc.
Why is storytelling so important to you as a photographer?
Photography is storytelling. Some people tell a story in one image, which is always awe-inspiring, and some people tell stories over a series of photographs. But, all photographs have the aim of telling a story. Whenever I am taking a photograph, whether it is at a wedding, on the street, on a commercial shoot, or of a child, I am always looking for the story I want to tell in that one image—or series of images. I have an intense need to tell these stories that I see to everyone who will see my images, because I believe those stories will touch them, matter to them, and make some kind of an impression on them.
How does Lightroom help you with that aspect of your work?
Lightroom is essential to the process of selecting and editing the extreme volume of work I have in front of me constantly. A photo historian, the late Bill Jay, used to remind me that a project (no matter how perfect it was) was of no value until it was completed and available for people to experience. Lightroom helps me get superior work completed efficiently, so I can share it with the world and get busy telling the next story. Companies like Blurb, who connect with Lightroom, have made the process of sharing stories with the world even easier. Producing a masterful photo book is within any photographer’s reach.
How do you use books in your professional life?
As a photographer in the digital age, I transmit images via Facebook, blogs, websites, iPads, and FTP servers. But there is something extremely special about quality paper, printing, and binding. My clients receive physical proof books made by Blurb, which I create directly in Lightroom. I never tire of hearing the exclamations from my clients about how beautiful their books are and how much they love them. Books are also essential in selling my services to future clients. Photo books and magazines are so comfortable and accessible to the client who is relaxing in the studio showroom, and as the client is looking through the book, the book is selling them on my vision and educating them on my style.
Take 20% off any print book order. Use the code PDN11 at checkout.*
And naturally this is related to storytelling…
Making a book takes the opportunity for storytelling to a whole new level. With multiple images spread over days, months, or years, it can come together to make extremely poignant statements. Add titles and graphics and text to the mix and you have limitless opportunities to connect with people and help them see what you see. I think when people say, “This is beautiful,” they are really saying, “I see what you see, and what you see is beautiful.”
How does your personal work differ from your client work?
There is no difference between my personal work and the work I do for my clients. I let one inform and alter the other, so, as my personal work shifts and expands, so does my commercial work. I am simply a visual storyteller. I tell stories about my clients’ lives, products, and events, and I tell stories about my life. I hope they are all interesting to the viewer. If they aren’t, I need to improve.
If money and time were no object, what project would you most want to take on?
I find creative people fascinating. Money and time are always an object and yet I am still on a quest to photograph and interview creative people of all types, from all genres of creativity, to experience their energy, understand their methods, and tell their story. So if money were no object, I would continue full steam ahead telling the story of the creative mind. In a creative way, of course…
At Blurb, we celebrate creativity in all of its myriad expressions. Photographers like Jared embody the creative freedom that our self-publishing platform enables.
Learn more about Jared Platt
Photography by Jared Platt
Tell your story with photography in a beautiful book and save
Take 20% off any print book order. Use the promo code PDN11 at checkout.*
*Offer valid through December 31, 2014 (11:59 p.m. local time). Valid for printed books only. A 20% discount is applied to your print book product total with no minimum purchase required. Maximum discount is USD $100, AUD $100, CAD $100, EUR €100, or GBP £100 off product total. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.
Abbey and Clint were married in the Mesa, Arizona LDS Temple. We shot some portraits with them the day before the wedding. I was pleased with the enter shoot. Here are a few of my favorite images from the wedding portrait shoot and the wedding day itself. Enjoy.
This next image is one of my favorites. Most of the time you are taking a portraits, but for very brief moments during the shoot, you catch their true personality and expression. That is what I live for as a photographer… the perfect little moments. Most of what I do leads up to these little moments in the portrait session.
All of the portraits are lit by Profoto B1 Off Camera Flashes. The sun you see peaking through the trees is actually a B1 off camera flash. Looks great! When the sun isn’t cooperating, make your own sun.
Now this next shot, the sun is actually the sun. FYI. But I love this shot. The bride’s mother said it looked like they were in the garden of eden.
This one is all about the dress and the shoes. I like the like glimpse of the shoes.
Just a little cool drama. Sometimes I want to do something a little different… I like the drama here in this day for night look.
The details on this wedding are quite fun. I love the brown paper bag luminaries. They had great variety of them.
And nothing entertains me more than photographing children at weddings and rehearsal dinners.
On the wedding day, the clouds were threatening rain, but held back until the minute we finished the family portraits and as we started walking back to the temple, the clouds began to unload. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. We got out portraits without incident, but I got a great series of shots as the rain forced the wedding party to run for cover! Perfect!
The reception was in a local Chandler church building. But the entire room was draped in white with beautiful white feathers and chandeliers and twinkle lights. It was very well done. I played around with various overlapping compositions to describe the room, but I think this shot gives the best description of how the room felt.
During the toasts, one of the groomsmen sat next to the grooms grand-father to translate. I was drawn to their relationship throughout the reception. It was touching. Oh and I also love the light. All of the light during the reception is provided by two Profoto B1 off camera flashes on either side of the reception room.
A kiss is far more interesting in context.
I love the emotional responses to the toasts at this reception. There was a lot of love circulating in that room. I love feeling that kind of love and closeness.
During the most emotional groom’s toast I have ever witness, the groom’s grandfather stood up and made his way to the groom’s side to show his support. I don’t think there are any words to describe now touching this scene really was. So, I will let the photo do the work.
Brides make grandfathers’ face light up like nothing else.
Oh the anticipation of a wedding cupcake! She can hardly stand it…
The M&Ms were a party favorite. They had a photo of the Bride and Groom on them. It was pretty cool.
Congratulations to Clint and Abbey. It was an honor to be a part of your wedding day.
Wedding Slideshow Music by __ Courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Wedding Location: Mesa, Arizona LDS Temple
Congratulations to Breanna and Rimo. It was such an honor to be a part of their wedding. Breanna and Rimo were married in the Gilbert, Arizona LDS Temple with a reception at Noah’s in Chandler. Enjoy the slideshow.