Location + Light = Photographer’s Delight

When you shoot outdoors, on location, it’s always a crap shoot when dealing with the weather and the light.

In most parts of Alberta you can usually count on super blue skies and bright sun all year round. But forest fires in the mountains meant that it was the exact opposite at a recent family photo shoot.

It was smokey and hazy. And it was good!

The smoke and haze were perfect for the portraits because it made the light soft and warm. I was giddy. Soft light is flattering. Much more than harsh sunlight. No squinting either. And I wouldn’t have to search for open shade, which is what I usually have to do with family portraits.

It also meant that I could shoot at any location, and point my camera in any direction, and I wouldn’t have to worry about distracting shadows or compensating for back light.

I cruised around the neighbourhood before the shoot and found this at the back of the high school.

Photo of the back of the high school

I’m a fan of old and funky neighbourhoods, but this family lives in a more upscale part of town. I was thrilled to find the sun beaten side of the high school had exactly what I was looking for: Bricks, old paint, and complimentary colours.

The family had another special spot picked out that overlooked Calgary’s downtown. The smokey, warm, early evening light worked perfectly for this location too.

The family picked out this spot, which I loved too

The Techy Stuff

  • Camera: Lumix GH3 and 12-35mm lens. Set on the Portrait photo style.
  • Capture: jpgs only — yes ’tis true!
  • ISO: ISO 400 for the whole shoot.
  • White Balance: Shot on Custom WB for some shots, and Daylight WB for the ones above, to retain the warmth of the scene. In hindsight, I could have used the Cloudy WB setting to warm things up a bit more.
  • Lighting: 100% natural. No fill flash. No reflectors. No filters.
  • Post processing: Imported to LR 5. I warmed up the shots even more as the camera didn’t quite push it to where I was hoping, especially at the school.

Here’s the final piece I made for the family using ProShow Web.

ProShow Web is my favourite way to deliver and share photo shoots with clients. Why? Because clients can view and share the video on their mobile devices and social media, and I don’t have to worry about my photos being stolen or orphaned on the web.

If you want to learn more about creating hybrid eProducts for your clients using ProShow Web, check out my short course: Video Made Easy.