I love natural light, I truly do. When mother nature supplies that beautiful, warm, slightly diffused softbox in the sky it makes for some truly beautiful shooting conditions. BUT. What happens when mother nature is feeling kinda bitchy, and instead gives you the choice between harsh overhead light, or flat boring light in the shade? Those were the two options I was given yesterday when I was teaching a One on One lighting workshop, so this is how I tackled the situation. This is the natural light image. The entire scene is in the shade, so the lighting was nice and even, but I also find it to be rather boring. There is no punch to the image and no real direction. I find that my eyes travel all over the scene.
I added in a 46" octabox, then set it to over power the ambient by one stop, and put 5 stops of neutral density on my lens to retain my shallow depth of field. The results give the whole scene a completely different feel, and really direct your eye to Alina's face.
Here is a diagram of the lighting setup. It's very basic lighting, but placement of the light was key in creating the shadow detail I was looking for. The octabox is placed nice and close, just barely out of the frame, and slightly behind Alina's face (so facing into the left side of her face). This allows the light to feather across her face, and produce shadow detail on the right side of her face, creating shape. Had I placed the octabox on the opposite side, lighting the right side of her face, all of that shadow would disappear leaving the photo looking flat again.
I shot one more image using almost exactly the same lighting (one stop over ambient, placed slightly on the left side of Alina's face, with 5 stops of ND on my lens), but this time slowing my shutter speed a little to produce a little more ambient fill.
Thanks for reading. If you're interested in doing your own One on One lighting workshop CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO.