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Photographing in Open Shade

Quick photography tips (as requested by Trinh)
She recently purchased a D3000 and asked me for some quick tips on how to best photograph make up.

Well, Trinh, hopefully you’re applying make up during the day! This will make your life much easier when you’re photographing it after you’re done. If not, no worries; I’ll make another post in a few days about photographing with available artificial light.

The model’s name is Jennifer (or Jenn) Lynn.

You can see that the light is coming from the right side of the photograph… while the model is standing in shade, the area is still near light–open to light–thus the term “open shade“. Good locations typically have a ceiling and walls, and are open to light; think of a garage with its door open (in fact, it’s a great exercise, just to get yourself to see light). Go into your garage… or any place with an over hang (covered parking; under a tall tree–think of something with a “dome” or overhang like a weeping willow; etc) and take a mirror with you; keep turning around and around, looking at how the light changes on your face.

The good things about open shade versus just shade (standing in the middle of, say, a heavily wooded forest or in a dark room) are:
1. There’s still light coming in! In most cases, just this simple fact will reduce camera shake (blurry pictures).
2. The fact that the light is coming in from ONE direction makes it “directional light” — much better looking. If her face were the same tone (in terms of lightness/darkness), it would kill the photograph.
3. The light in shade (I know, it sounds like an oxymoron) is much softer on the features than say, direct sunlight. Blemishes/etc are much less noticeable.
4. The light is less harsh on the model’s eyes–less squinting!
5. Ever have problems with your background looking WHITE or faces looking DARK (or both)? Being in shade makes tones more similar (more towards “grey” if you will, instead of being white or black), alleviating the problem.
6. Basically, it gives YOU more CONTROL. Control separates professionals from amateurs. Anyone can see light, anyone can photograph light, but if you can control it, it is one step closer on the long journey to mastering the art of photography.

Photographed January 25, 2009.
Equipment: Nikon D300 & Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens.
Handheld. No supplemental lighting or fillers.

trinh - thank you! as for lenses, i don’t have to necessarily buy lenses from nikon, right?

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