Bright sun lighting tips!

Lighting - Kevin Kubota
The summer sun is out, birds are singing, unicorns are happily playing, and photographers are cursing the lighting! Everyone wants beautiful outdoor portraits, but the bright sun can pose a challenge to your soft, flattering light desires. I've been a wedding photographer for over 20 years and faced challenges from sunny beaches to baking hot concrete parking lots. Here are some of my full sun lighting tips.
  1. Find shade! This might seem obvious, but many photographers neglect to simply ask their client to move locations. Either they are too shy, or think the client absolutely loves their current stake of ground. If you kindly suggest to them that the light is MUCH more flattering to their faces if you move "over there", they generally oblige.
  2. Use the sun as a backlight or hair light. If you have any direction to the sun at all, meaning it's not directly overhead, then you have a potentially beautiful backlight or hair light. Just make sure the sun is not casting dark shadows on the face and then create your facial lighting with a soft, white reflector or a diffused flash. Our LunaGrip works perfect for this.
  3. Create a sun shade. If you have a larger diffusion disk of 40" or so, or better yet, a larger scrim (a translucent white fabric on a frame), then you can shade your client and create an amazing soft light. Ask an assistant, or two, to hold the diffuser overhead – or wherever the sun happens to be. Sometimes you may also want to add a reflector, or diffused flash, to complement the diffused overall light from the scrim.
  4. If you get really desperate and can't move or shade your subject, then fill flash might be your only option. I prefer to use a diffused flash instead of a direct one. This gently fills the shadows and doesn't look so snapshot like. Use a small softbox, LunaGrip, or other flash diffuser directly above your camera lens to avoid creating cross shadows. Take a test shot or two to find the right exposure balance and open up those eye sockets.

About the Image: The LunaGrip is used with a single speedlight to add beautiful lighting to the subject's face, and sparkling catchlights in her eyes. I moved her just out of the bright sun to keep her from squinting and to eliminate the harsh shadows. The LunaGrip keeps the bright, sunny day feel, but creates the perfect portrait lighting. Get a LunaGrip now on sale for under $100!

Alycia White makes dramatic senior portraits with LunaGrip

Image by: Alycia White using the LunaGrip from Westcott and Kevin Kubota.

Image by: Alycia White using the LunaGrip from Westcott and Kevin Kubota.

Do you want to see how easy it is to take your outdoor lighting up a notch? Here's a fun video featuring Alycia White, showing how she uses a single speedlight, and her LunaGrip, to create dramatically better portraits than she could with just natural light. One of the key reasons to use flash outdoors is to balance the light on your subject with a very bright background. The problem is that simply hitting your subject with flash usually results in very flat, snapshot looking lighting. 

In this video you'll see how the simple addition of a unique flash modifier, moved to the appropriate position, can drastically improve your results. Alycia's kind of a goof too, which makes it all the more enjoyable ;-)

Details on her camera and flash settings can be found at the end of the video, or here.

Alycia White uses the LunaGrip and a single speedlight to show how easy it is to get dramatic, beautiful lighting outdoors.

If you have any questions on her setup or settings, feel free to ask in the comments and we'll fill ya in. 

The Westcott LunaGrip for food photography

One of our Westcott LunaGrip users found that it works perfectly for her food photography business. Robin Marie Photography has a beautiful senior and family portrait business going, but her secret passion is food photography. Robin has found that the LunaGrip is the perfect compliment to her clean, natural, fresh style of culinary imaging and the portability makes shooting on location (where the food tends to be) a breeze. All she needs is a single speedlight behind the LunaGrip to make your mouth water with her photographs!

Robin had this to share: 

"Let me start by saying "the Luna grip has changed my life". Lol. 😀. No seriously I am excited about how easy my set up was with my Luna Grip. I was able to carry everything into my shoot in one trip. No heavy lights, batteries etc...I was able to achieve the same results that I get from my expensive, heavy pro light system. Food photography is all about the light. If it's not spot on it can appear inedible and unappetizing .  The Luna Grip is perfect for my on location Food shoots"