I’ve had quite a month! Our blog circle theme for February was “hard light,” which is basically any sort of harsh light, like the direct sun at noon. This type of lighting situation often creates unflattering shadows or make areas of your image WAY too bright. For example, very harsh light on skin can destroy all detail and erase portions of your subject's face (yup, sadly I’ve done this more than once). However, it's also really awesome! Hard light can also make your subject pop, add amazing depth, and make colors especially vibrant and fun. This month I tried to capture hard light in many different environments: bright light pockets streaming through windows, full sun in the afternoon, dappled light, etc. Well, where better to practice with harsh light in February than under the Florida sun!
I was fortunate enough to attend the Click Away photography conference this year at Amelia Island. Sponsored by Clickin Moms, this annual conference is a chance for hundreds (thousands?!) of photography enthusiasts from all over the world to come together for three days of learning, socializing, and of course, shooting! I learned a ton, met some amazing people, and ended up with a slight sunburn (which feels invigorating in the dead of winter). My first boutique shooting session was done in full sun with a mom and her adorable toddler. The little guy had platinum blonde hair, so I had to watch carefully for blown out areas. In order to preserve the details in his little curls, I made sure not to overexpose my images by maxing out my shutter speed. Once I pulled them up in Photoshop I added back brightness where needed. When both subjects were in the direct sun without shade I pointed my camera downward for a new view (oh, hello shadow and cute shoes)...and also managed to catch a little rainbow flare! And if you're looking to avoid hard light as much as possible, hiding in the shade almost always works. In this instance the parking garage, although it still had a ton of light streaming in, softened things considerably.
I ended my Click Away journey with a session at the beach featuring two lovely local models. The sun was harsh when we first started shooting and, with natural shade impossible to find, we engineered it ourselves. We used scarves, foliage, and shooting angles to lessen the brightness factor. We learned to use shadows to our advantage and stretched our creativity.
But the harsh light shots did not end in Florida since I kept seeing opportunities in my house, especially the kitchen. I loved capturing my favorite little subject going about her business in awesome light, from making a shopping list at breakfast to playing with an inflatable tube in our office. Harsh light takes a ton of practice, just remember to keep exposing for the brightest area of your frame, and reposition your subjects (or yourself!) to avoid unflattering shadows when possible. Other takeaways from shooting this month include the realization that I am indeed very pregnant, which magically makes camera gear feel a thousand times heavier; best to use "live mode" when taking pictures directly of the sun on your balcony (my poor eyes); and last but certainly not least, a lecture made me realize that I WILL be buying a fog machine to create light rays in my house (I apologize in advance to the dogs when it sets off the smoke alarm). For more examples of harsh light, check out the talented Tina Fisher's work on her blog!