Even If the Sun Don’t Shine…

Briana in the sand on a cloudy day. We made the sun with our strobes.

We were out the door fairly early, and the sky was slightly overcast. Briana had wanted to do this shot for the entire Florida trip and here it was the last day. I really wanted to get it for her. The sun didn’t have any plans on cooperating though.

I wanted the feeling of sunlight with the “beach bounce” that a sunny day provides. I knew the slightly overcast sky would give me wonderful natural light, what would be missing is the hard sun light.

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There isn’t a need for a lot of light in a situation like this. Just a little wink is fine. I placed a speedlight (Sunpack 433 – got two on Ebay…) on a stand and placed it about 3 feet behind Briana up high. I wanted to make the light from the strobe look like the sun, so an angle of morning sun was chosen. I had the strobe about 3 feet high and angled down

It is very important that you place the strobe where it cannot hit the models face or nose. That would be a retouching problem. At least that is my style, if you like the more cinematic facial light, then you can certainly ignore that. I find it problematic in my beauty work.

My ambient exposure is f8 at 1/60 second for the face. I went for a deeper f-stop than I usually do because I wanted some DOF and not let her back and legs go totally soft. Since the shutter speed is well within my flash sync range, I only had to add a little more light than f-8. At 1/4 power the little Sunpack provided f11 with a nice fast recycle time. I use fresh rechargeable batteries whenever I shoot and that gives me a really fast recycle.

Here is one shot we did. You can see the light coming through the hair and the little shadow from the strobe light. And you can see the faux sunlight look as well.

On an overcast day we added a bit of strobe to the image for sunlight.

The lit backlight is all we need for the look to be complete. In these images you can see that the face is smoothly lit and that the illusion looks perfect in many poses.

In the faux sunlight on the beach in Florida

I used a long lens, an 80-200 2.8 zoom at various lengths, to foreshorten the image and keep Briana from looking distorted. I prefer long lenses for this kind of shot. You could use a 100 or even an 85 for similar results.

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About 

I am in love with light.

Also known as Don Giannatti, photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amherst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and ezine with a slightly different slant than most photography related blogs. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out www.project52.org. Thanks for visiting.

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