My wife has always wanted to have some picture of herself surrounded by autumn colours, probably since she comes from Indonesia where the only seasons they have are hot and wet, so out we went with flash and camera.
Our first plan was to find somewhere for her to sit with our daughter and throw leafs that could rain down around them, that was the wish, unfortunately the environment didn’t oblige. We just couldn’t find a good location anywhere around the place where we live. There were some decent looking trees but not many leafs to be found on the ground and no nice, dry place to sit either. While we were looking, the little one also fell asleep in her pram, so we would be shooting with one model instead of two.
I had decided to keep things simple, one light and no fuss. For the first shot you see here I used a LP160 in shoot through umbrella from camera right. The sun provides some rim light from camera left, which gives the image some more shape and an extra glow. I also used 1/4 cto gel on the flash to warm it just a bit. The sun was pretty low so it was already providing a warm light, which was lucky, gelling the sun would have been problematic.
The most difficult part of this shot was actually to get my light stand to stay put. It wasn’t very windy but when you put an umbrella at the top of a light stand you get a very effective sail. Luckily my light stand comes with a spike on each foot that you can stab into the ground to keep it in place. However, even with that precaution my model had to make a couple of saves when the whole thing came blowing towards her.
For this second shot we changed location a bit and that also resulted in a change of the light. The key light here is actually the sun. I tried to use my flash first but didn’t like the result. However, using just the sun didn’t quite satisfy me neither, so I placed my flash (still with cto gel but without umbrella) to camera left and used it as a rim light. Much better, now we have some shape and more separation from the background.
The most difficult thing here turned out to be the use of the sun as my main light source; it was coming in through the foliage and because of that it was rather inconsistent, leaving some frames darker and some brighter. My flashes don’t give me that problem, stupid sun, think it’s something special…
Anyways, this was actually the last shot of the day and, as you can see, I managed to coax a genuine smile from my wife (being silly helps), which makes this one of my favourites. I think the whole outing was fairly successful and it gave me some practice for simple outdoor portraits, something I haven’t done much of before. Though perhaps not my preferred style, I still enjoy the photos, but next week I have something funkier coming up, so be sure to check back.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some shooting to do.