How To Control Outdoor Lighting In Child Photography?

  • Light diffused by cloud normally presents little difficulty as there are no pronounced shadows and pictures can be taken from almost any angle. Observe, however, the effect of reflection from light areas in the scene and take advantage of these where possible. In direct sunlight it is safer to have the sun behind you and to one side of the camera, but more interesting effects are to be had with strong side lighting or with the sun almost facing the camera. In these cases a lens hood is essential and exposure must be calculated with special care.

  • When departing from frontal lighting the child's face may be partly or wholly in shadow. A useful trick for obtaining an exposure reading in this situation is to hold your hand vertically in such a way that the light on it resembles that reaching the child's face. A meter reading taken say, about six inches from your hand will give a quick and fairly reliable indication of the required exposure.

  • The long shadows of early morning or evening, especially in summer-time add considerably to the relief effect. Avoid sunlight directly behind the camera or at its height in summer. Both these conditions, producing short shadows, give 'flat' results. A photograph I took of my son at the age of three, in a cliff-top garden, with the sunlight coming across the sea from near the horizon gave almost the illusion of having been taken in a studio. A privet hedge in shadow and thrown out of focus, added to this effect.

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