Natural Light Shooting
A couple of weeks ago I photographed a student named Andrew Frechinella. He is attending Penn University in Philadelphia. I shot him on the UPenn campus in the University City district of Philadelphia. He’s wrapping up his very own PhD and was looking to try his hand at a bit of modeling.
I always love shooting in new locations, especially interesting new locations. The campus at Penn lacks no character, space, architecture, or visual interest of any kind. It’s a really great atmosphere. On campus has a certain look and feel, and only a few block from campus a very different look and feel, I love it! Versatility of location is always a major plus.
We began the afternoon (very sunny afternoon) by wandering around outside of Penn first and explored some alleyways and streets and ventured onto the college grounds. Andrew was a rock-star, we took advantage of a construction site, empty café, and paparazzi’d a few random students (some of the best photos of the day, just kidding ;) ) and he killed it on campus, off campus, everywhere we went.
I really need to start taking some photos of myself taking photos… or rather have my assistant (typically my Uncle) handling a second camera and snapping some production shots so you can get a sneak peak, behind-the-scenes look at what I do. Maybe next time, there’s always (usually) a next time.
Because of the insane sunlight (which is really not very good for great portrait photography) I stayed away from lighting anything with strobes or off-camera flash, instead I hung out with a pair of reflectors. A Westcott 6’ x 4’ reflector panel (Sunlight & Silver) as well as a smaller Silver & White 30” Lastolite reflector. In sunlight these things work like a charm and can light very well, put them in the hands of someone who can feather the light and make adjustments on the fly for you, and you’ve got a killer lighting setup; all with one measly little reflector (and one giant continuous light we call the sun).
I shot almost everything at f2.8 and around 1/200th of a second except when photographing into the sun; I adjusted for greater depth of field and stopped down to f8.0 and around 1/100th of a second for those shots. Throw in the reflector bouncing that intense sunlight back into the subject and you get great light. My ISO stayed at 100 all day.
I made a concerted effort to get away from shooting at a longer focal length this time around and stayed with my 50mm (nifty 50) and my 24-70mm f2.8. I miss the flat, compressed look of the telephoto but love the way it made me work using this lens and not having the 70-200mm to “fall back on”. Since that shoot, I’ve been using the 24-70mm a whole lot more. Objective. Completed.
A big shout out to Andrew for hanging around all afternoon with me and being totally cool with everything I asked him to do, job well done man! Also a shout out to my Uncle Chris for the excellent setup, reflector-holding, idea-bouncing, goodness; having an extra set of hands makes impractical or impossible shots practical and possible.