Shooting in direct sun with no modifiers.

I've decided to start a blog. This will mostly be an amalgam of information about techniques, behind the scenes, retouching, and personal work. 

This was a test shoot with Agency Arizona model Paige. Our chosen location (at the Dreary Dam) was closed due to police activity, so we rushed over to Squaw Peak. This left us with about 30 mins of sunlight left, so I did not have time to break out any modifiers. I have been challenging myself more and more to shoot in all types of lighting situations. Over the last year or so I have really fallen in love with harsh sunlight, and it doesn't get any more harsh than a bright sunny Phoenix day.

  • For my style I have found when shooting in harsh sunlight I like to broad light my subject. I like the sunlight to light them with either a butterfly or loop lighting pattern, occasionally a rembrandt light pattern, and very rarely a split lighting pattern. If I start to turn them away from the sun too much I will bring out a reflector or strobe for a fill light.
  • I have fallen in love with direct sunlight because it shapes the face so beautifully. This being said you should use a model that has good features and skin for harsh light. Not all models will look great with harsh light.
  • My background plays a large roll when using direct sunlight. Some things I look for are: clean and solid textures, have the background shape the subject, no busy or distracting colors or elements, and making sure the background compliments the model and allows the model to stand out. 
  • Underexposing by 1/2 -1 stop (sometimes more) is pretty important as well. This not only brings out rich colors, but leaves you with more room to edit when retouching later. 
    (Colors are more saturated when under exposed, and less saturated when over exposed).

Here are some of my favorites from the day. 

Now here is a sooc and retouched image for comparison, (full size, and 100% crop).

As the sun was setting we did a quick outfit change and got about 10 more mins of shooting in. 
For these the sun is setting, and is side lighting the model. 

Here is another before and after retouched image. 

I hope this first blog post was useful in someway. I will try to write a new blog post at least once a week. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or have any suggestions about what you would like to see me write a blog post about.