The plan had been for warm, springtime weather and photos that took advantage of the sunshine – a result that was airy and light hearted.  Unfortunately reality stepped in and, once more, the weather channel girl only got it half right.  The sun was out, but the temperature was hovering in the lower thirty’s, which meant that some last minute alterations were necessary.  So instead of shooting light and airy we went back into winter mode and shot to make the best of it.

Meet Sara, whom I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of.  Although she has a little modeling experience it was our first time working together, so the goal was to keep it simple, just a fun outdoor shoot to see how we worked together and what kind of images we could craft.  To saw it was successful would be an understatement.  We’ve already made plans for additional shoots once the weather improves.

Since we were working mobile, lighting was kept simple on this one, just a reflective umbrella mounted to a lightstand and held in position despite gusting wind by the wonderful Mandy.  (The girl’s got a MA but is still happy to hold lights for me – can’t beat that!)  The only spin was that instead of the usual single Speedlite, I used two in tandem.  Ideally I’d have gone with both my 430EXs, but with one out of commission pending a replacement foot, I used my 580EX as a second flash.

The 580EX series runs about a stop more powerful than the 430EX series (so I’ve heard, and confirmed by a very scientific test shoot & histogram comparison in my living room).  Both were in manual mode and were triggered by my radio slaves.  It was still difficult to get the right mix of camera and flash settings to knock down the sunlight, but for the most part it worked out well.

I mentioned over-clocking the shutter speed in my last “Saturday Light” post and was able to work with the technique.  The photo above was shot at 1/320.  The slight darkening at the bottom of a frame is the give away.  It’s subtle enough that I’m okay with it in this shot, although this is already a crop of the full image to remove the worst of it.  Over-clocking can give you another 2/3 stop of shutter speed – hence 1/320 instead of the usual 1/200.  Unfortunately that’s about the useful limit on a shoot like this, where the subject takes up most of the frame.  Any faster and you’re looking at having the dark band extend across half the frame.

In the previous shot we were working with the sun behind us; this image is 180* around, shooting almost into the sun, which is why I couldn’t balance it to preserve the blue sky.  The lights are just outside the frame, blasting at full power, shutter speed over-clocked.  It was enough to provide the perfect fill light on Sara, but not enough to compress the range – either she was going to be in shadow or the sky was going to blow out.  Regardless, it ended up being one of my favorites from the morning – something about her attitude in it.

We finished with some basic portraits, once more shooting into the sun, which served as a hair light.  If I’m going to shoot close portraits, then I like to get in tight and focus on the eyes.  The color version of this shot suffered from a background washout like the previous image, but converting to B&W pulled it all together.

Tech info: Canon 7D + Sigma 28-70EX, f/6.3-8, ISO 100, 1/320-1/500

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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