Lighting Experiment: Fort Hood Photographer

Yesterday while I was booking sessions for 8am and 6pm, I realized some folks don’t understand the method to my madness.  It’s not that I want to roll out of bed early on the weekends or that I want to keep your kids up late.  It’s that good photography is all about the light and the position of the sun can make or break a portrait.  To illustrate that point, I took my two favorite little guinea pigs out for an experiment… an experiment that cost me half a bag of chocolate and one batch of cookies.

8:30am and foggy-  Oh the soft, peaceful feeling of morning light.  You add a dose of fog and you get a serene portrait like this.   *sigh*

Full Sun, Noon-  Bold, contrasty but not very flattering for portraits.  See that bright spot on my oldest’s head or knees or my youngest’s hand.  We call those “hot spots” and they’re photography no-nos.  We also risk losing detail in the shadows, which doesn’t sound bad until you see blobs of black ink on your large portrait.  This was actually the first picture take yesterday.  A storm blew in that evening and knocked all those lovely little petals out of the tree.  It makes me sad but that’s just how it goes in the Spring.  This is also a lesson on clothing.  Individually, my kids are adorable and wearing portrait clothing.  Together, they just don’t go together due to the different tones (light and dark) and colors (pastel vs bold).  Tristan’s shorts cause his knees to battle for attention since the eye travels to the lightest object in the scene.

6:30 and cloudy-   This one is really interesting to me.  A storm was moving in from the west so the sky was dark where the sun was.  There was a tiny patch of white clouds to provide the soft directional lighting.  If it had not been for the bright patch, this would have been flat lit with little contrast between darks and lights.  You need that contrast to make the image pop. Between this and the Shoot & Mingle photos, I have found a love for “before the storm” light.

7:20-  Tonight’s image. We’re getting close to sunset and getting some yummy backlighting.  It’s warm.  It pops your subject from the background.  It’s just screams summer (and fun when your kids aren’t acting sour about the fifth shoot they’ve been dragged out for.).

7:30-  Ten minutes after the picture above, I took this one.  We get a little flare and haze from the sun setting behind the apartment in the background.  I usually can’t get images like this at client sessions.  I have to start early to make sure I get plenty of time but then the kids are done before the sun has gone down.  If parents can just hang on a little longer, even if it means taking a break and just hanging out for fifteen minutes, I could give pictures with softer backlighting with the golden sun bathing the family in light.

So what’s your opinion?  What time of day would you schedule your photo session?

And which image do you like best?  One of these will be on canvas and hanging in my new home this summer but that’s another post for another day.

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4 thoughts on “Lighting Experiment: Fort Hood Photographer”

  • Beautiful photos! I like the last two the best. I’d pick the last one because of their interaction. Nice of you to record these things to help others learn the huge difference in light throughout the day. 🙂

  • LOVE your work. This experiment was very interesting to me! I do have a question for you. Do you do much editing on your computer?
    I have a nice camera and love taking pictures. But i have five kids and one busy life. I want to be able to take great pictures without editing all of them. Also interested in what camera you use and your favorite
    lens. Thanks for any info!

  • Hi Deanna! I hate to say I do a lot of editing but I do a good dose of it. I use Lightroom for basic adjustments and Photoshop to give them the pop. I can spend anywhere between 5 to 30 minutes on a single image. I’m a huge believer that any camera can be used to create a great image, as long as you know how to use it. I use a Canon 5d and my favorite lens right now is the 135mm f/2L, which was used for these images.

  • Wow. Neat and “illuminating” (haha) experiment! I LOVE the first and last pictures. What a difference the time of day can make. Thanks for sharing!

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