Seeking out the right kinda light. . .

One of the first lesson I've ever learned on location portraiture had to do with seeking out the right kind of light. Taking photos out in the open can turn out decent photos, but if the light is harsh or if it's directly overhead you can run into trouble. Trouble being: "raccoon eyes" (the brow casting a shadow over the eyes); or hard shadow lines from a small bright light source that turn a normally youthful person into a 120 year old chain-smoking insomniac.

So what to do? Find a wall.

Be it a wall-wall, or a wall of trees. Something to direct the light around and come at the subject from a more lateral position.

For example:

I photographed Rachael leaning up again the side of a barn door. The main light comes from the open air camera left. The fill light is the main light bouncing off the barn door and filling in the bit of shadows on her left side. Perfect fill! Additionally, a big white van was parked 15 feet away and helped redirect the light at a 90 degree angle. Nice specular highlights (from the sky over the trees) and no "raccoon eyes" and no chain smoking 120 year old insomniac.

This is Nate. I asked Nate to sit up against another barn door as the sun was starting to set and was producing some very nice warm light. However, the open blue sky was still shooting down some serious light directly above. Moving him up against the barn door helped eliminate the overhead blue light and allowed the warm sunlight to spill in camera left and bounce off the door and fill in the shadows on his face. A very nice trim light!

Lesson of the day. . . find a spot with redirected light and avoid the 120 year old chain smoking insomniac raccoon look.