Courtney, her sister, her mother and I all headed out into the desert for some cool senior portraits. Here are a few of my favorite images from the photo shoot.
We started fairly early in the afternoon by lighting standards which means that the sun was high in the sky and very bright. But with a fantastic camera (the Canon 1D Mark IV) and the best software (Adobe Lightroom) and a good understanding of lighting, harsh lighting does not have to be a problem.
You will notice that in many of those shots, I have Courtney facing away from the sun so that her face is in her own shadow. This means I have a “north light” studio with a very strong hair light. Then, with a little off camera fill light, matching the exposure is simple enough. I prefer to keep the flash (a Canon Speedlight 580 EX – no longer available – instead try the new 600EX-RT) in manual mode so that I am getting the same flash output every time, but in these bright lighting conditions, that requires shooting well above the camera/flash sync speed, and that can only be done off camera with a set of Pocket Wizard radio slaves (TT1 and TT5). With a speed light and a set of the pocket wizards, I can keep my flash in manual mode, but still have it operating in high speed sync, which makes matching the subject (flash) and the background (ambient) possible.
I do have to say that I am excited about the new Canon flash (600EX-RT) just released this month which may make the pocket wizards unnecessary. But I will be testing those very soon and I will let you know how well they work.
This is another example of using the off camera flash and high speed sync capabilities in a bright sunlight situation. I couldn’t have done without the flash on this shoot and I didn’t have my assistant, so I am so glad the set up is light weight and portable.
Here, you will notice there are no catch lights in the eyes. No flash was used. But since I was not placing her against the sky, I could get all the exposure latitude I needed from the camera without a flash. This requires attention to the highlights (making sure I do not over expose them) which makes the entire photo seem a bit dark. But, since I am shooting RAW, I can then brighten up the mid-tones in Lightroom 4 and I end up with a perfect exposure in the end. This is what Ansel Adams referred to as pre-vissualization. Were Ansel Adams shooting today, he would be using Lightroom. And no, that’s not blasphemous.
I will always love open shade best. And this is my favorite photograph of the day. Courtney’s hair frames the photo nicely and I really enjoy the treatment of the photo. I have always loved the look of film, digital can be too perfect and too smooth. In fact, I have found myself purposefully shooing higher ISO shots on my digital cameras even when I have abundant light just to get a little more grain into the photo.
I love the composition on this shot. The repeated lines in the skirt mimicked by the white picket fence is nice as well. One particular part of the composition that I love is the way the porch windows frame her head and shoulders. And I and so pleased with the faded black and white film look.
Ah, the good earth…
Courtney just looks fantastic in this shot. And I love all the texture in the collar. This shot is taken just as the sun dropped below the horizon. My favorite time of day.
If you like the photo treatments on these images, check out my Lightroom 4 preset collection, especially the Film Pack, at www.jaredplattworkshops.com.
Senior Portraits by Jared Platt, Platt Photography
Slideshow Music by Mindy Gledhill, courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
Location: Desert south of Chandler, Arizona