Experimenting with light

Part of the reason I love photography is that I honestly believe that I will always have something to learn, no matter how long I practice at it. That being said, I recently attended a workshop in Spencer, Tennessee where I was able to continue my education, network with other photographers and be mentored through several different shoots. My favorite of these shoots is featured here. It was mentored by Chad Braithwaite  from Salt Lake City and modeled by Lauren Staub from Nashville.

Man, oh man, y'all. This was so much fun. We decided to take a little trek to find some drama in lighting and landscape, and for me the results did not disappoint. Lauren was an especially good sport. Not only did she make the hike in that lovely sheer gown but she also posed on the edge of a cliff for quite some time without blinking an eye. 

Breathtaking landscapes and professional models aside, my very favorite thing from this session was what my mentor taught me about light. One of the the first things I learned when I started taking photos was that I should avoid shooting against the sun. Usually you will end up with either completely over exposed photographs, or a dark and indefinite shadow.

However, if you can control the natural backlighting, it will give you powerful and moving results. 

I love this photo. I love it so much. The sun was high when this was shot but out of frame giving a glow around the border. When shooting with a strong backlight you definitely want to use the manual settings. Chad suggested selecting a wide aperture and experiment with the shutter speed. I took a few shots with auto settings just to get a sense of where to start experimenting. Mostly I played with settings from 1/100 to 1/640 seconds.

We placed Lauren in the sun so that she got a beautiful halo around her gorgeous red hair. It was shot at f2.8 at 1/400 and ISO 100. In post, I lightly brushed some light onto the model to make the color in her dress pop and allow a bit more light to shine through.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these or any tips you have for backlighting!  leave questions in the comments or feel free to contact me at Gretchen@hernameisgretchen.com