My Photo Blog

Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention

Earlier this year I was asked to do a portrait shoot, and in the example they showed me, the person was back lit with the sun. This meant that it had to be shot at sunrise, or sunset and we would have to get it right before the sun got too high in the sky. When trying to coordinate the schedules of three people along with the sun and the weather, I suggested shooting in my studio. As much as I would like to say that I was the first person to do this, or a similar technique, I’m sure it has been done before. The first thing you need to create an outdoor shoot indoors, is a believable sky. For most subjects a light blue seamless backdrop will work fine, but the sunrise made it a little more complicated. The solution was to use a piece of translucent acrylic, back lit with a studio flash and a blue gel. Next, was creating the sun, and for this I first used a studio flash with a warming gel. This worked fine for the project at hand, but as I refined the technique, I replaced the sun with a speed light. That allowed more flexibility in positioning the sun. On the next shoot that I used this technique, I wanted a horizon and for that, I added a piece of cardboard. By changing the cardboards distance to the acrylic, you can make it in, or out of focus. The diagram below shows how everything fits together. When setting up the speed light, you need to extend it on an arm from the light stand to avoid getting a shadow on the acrylic. In the diagram there is also a fill light shot through an umbrella. Not showing on the diagram is a fan placed to camera right which helps complete the illusion of being outside. Below are a few shots with this technique.



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