I really love the late golden afternoon sun that comes beaming into my apartment. It’s one of those rare times each day I know I can practice my shooting skills as I’m a new dad and don’t quite seem to have the time I used to.
Don’t get me wrong I love being a new parent. It’s brought me many things: a new perspective on life; a new appreciation for photography, for, as like many first time parents, I’ve gone a little mad shooting pics of the wee one; and a willing, or perhaps unaware subject (my daughter). But, one thing it has definitely not brought me is more time practice my craft. That’s why I truly appreciate this time and I always try to take advantage.
My location is far from perfect, as my 1.5 by 8 meter cluttered balcony is perhaps not the most ideal. The big air conditioner unit strapped to railing doesn’t help either. But it’s not all bad. The walls are painted white, do I don’t get any strange colour casts, and most importantly I get some great light for about 30 minutes of the golden hour each evening. It’s this light I try to really work. Sometimes reflectors, fill flash or rim lights. The main thing for me is to have a goal each time I do this. That’s what I did on this shoot.
I had a couple of goals this shoot:
- keep the backgrounds as clean as possible
- practice using the light to create a variety of looks
- to shoot manual
Normal the first of these challenges aren’t that tough at golden hour by when you’re in a cluttered, confined space with a subject that literary doesn’t know the meaning of sit still, things get a little more complex. As far as shooting manual goes, I knew my exposures wouldn’t be changing significantly, unless my daughter went out onto the balcony or stood just inside next to the glass. I always choose my ISO and normally shoot in aperture priority (except when using a flash) and adjust my exposure compensation to get the look I want. But I’ve found that when editing batches of photos this can really slow down my time in post. When I shoot manual if I’m little over or underexposed, I’m a little over or under exposed consistently on all my photos. I can than batch process them quickly. It worked well for this shoot.
I shoot these images all with a Tamron 17-50mm ISO 200 at f2.8 from a 1/60th of a second 1/400th. The shutter speed was little slow and I got some blur in a few photos but with my 550D I was willing to accept those few missed shots as noise seems to creep in very quickly as ISOs go up.
As far achieving my other goals I think I did quite well. I got a few different styles of light (a rim light, a more dramatic Rembrandt-esque effect and over course the sun flare). I did get a silhouette too but didn’t like the over feel of the shoot. Given the location I was also able to keep my backgrounds fairly clean. And the reflections in the glass in a couple of the shots were intentional too.
Overall a great little practice session with some images I’m really happy with. It just goes to show that if you set some goals, set aside a little time (I had maybe 20 minutes) and really work even the most frugal of locations you can create something beautiful.