When the sun fails, bring a little extra light with you.
On my recent trip to North Dakota for the Independence Day Celebration, I ended up on top of a ridge called Custer’s Lookout with Mike Cranston, a fellow photog. Check out the Flickr Gallery of the weekend shoot here. I decided to try an environmental portrait of Mike next to the ruins of the old structure.
The camera metered the scene a little too bright. In spite of the soft mid-day light, I wanted more drama. Drama and Dark share three of the same letters so I often equate creating drama with a little added darkness. I moved the camera to manual and under exposed it a couple of stops so that I could get that brooding look.
Unfortunately, under exposing the scene made my building and my model far too dark for my taste. I liked the sky and the foreground well enough but I needed to kick up the light a little to make Mike pop off the image. I might be able to fix it in software but it would be time consuming. Get it right in camera, is one of my many mottos and I sought to improve the image then and there. The field solution was to attach a 580EXII Flash via cable to my Canon DSLR and pop a little fill flash into the area. With the flash on manual set to 1/2 power and zoomed to 50mm. I fired again creating the look used in the finished portrait you see at the top of the article.
A nice dramatic pose from Mike and the image was captured. Post processing was completed in Lightroom.
Even in the bright-even light of a mid-day overcast (of which every photographer dreams) sometimes you just have to bring your own to get the look you are after.
Rikk Flohr © 2009