Nadine outside

Today the second part of the series about the shots we did with Nadine in Almelo.
Today a small tip about “fighting” the ambient light.

Although I love natural light, strobes always bring something new to a scene, the ability to change the whole look of a scene gives you as a photographer an incredible amount of options to create your own reality.


In this case we found these shiny silos and immediately we thought that these would be great for a shot where we used strobes to overpower the ambient light. Nadine used a longer dress for this shot because she was actually climbing up a bit. For my lights I used the Elinchrom Ranger with the Elinchrom Maxilight and a white grid. This combination is killer for outside, the Maxilight will give you a lot of output from your strobes and the light quality is amazing, combine it with a black or white grid and you can create some very nice images where the attention of the viewer is immediately drawn to the model (as you can see here).

To meter the sky I used the Sekonic 758 light meter in spot mode (reflective).
This way you can meter the sky and get the value for 18% gray, from there you can start to experiment with ratios to make the sky turn the way you want it. In this case we overpowered the sky by app 2 stops and started fine tuning from there. One thing I don’t want is to overpower the ambient to a point that clouds start to look unrealistic. They can be darker than normal but they should drop down too much (one of the things I never like in HDR for example, when it’s done wrong).


Thanks to the reflective surface of the silos you get a really nice image in my opinion that really enhances the mood of the “dark” lighting.

I always give my students (and readers of my blog of course) the advise to move around your model. By choosing different locations you can get a lot of different looks from the same location (and even same light setup), and maximizing the amount of looks you can choose from is one of the most powerful tools you have when working for clients (the more they can choose from the better) plus it’s easy to do, you don’t have to change anything, except your position 😀

Also remember that your lens choice has an enormous impact on your final look.
In this case I used the Mamiya 35mm on a Phase One DF camera with a Leaf Credo 60 digital back. This combination is awesome for this kind of locations, in the last image I shot from a very low angle and focussed “the attention” to the sneakers Nadine was wearing under her dress, with the 35mm this gives a great “distortion” to the image which I sometimes really like for fashion.


Next time some information about natural light with Nadine.



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2 replies
  1. Freddy
    Freddy says:

    Frank; I wish more landscape photographers who use HDR would take your point about the look of clouds in their images — how sloppy processing of the sky can ruin an image. Also, that reflector is really a precision tool for directing light, isn’t it? 🙂

    • Frank Doorhof
      Frank Doorhof says:

      I don’t use reflectors a lot to be honest, it’s always about the direction of light and with strobes I’m more flexible..

      Sloppy processing on any part can ruin a picture (not to say I’m good or perfect by the way, plenty to improve myself).

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