Thursday, December 9, 2010

Questions from Elizabeth Isley Riley

 Hey Jim! I am an avid, amateur photographer that finds the Cayman Islands so inspiring! I do not understand f-stops and apertures at all, but still manage to get some amazing photos. I have 2 questions for you:
Should I use a fill-in flash morning sun? I am taking our Christmas Card photos at Smith Cove @ 10am and think the sun will be in our eyes. I want to do it then as the colour of the sea is so beautiful in that light. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
My 2nd question is regarding capturing lightning (I love yours). I have tried with no flash and I have a "boost" feature on my camera that has allowed me to capture a few cool forks.
Thank you so much for offering your advice. Take care.
Hi Elizabeth,

Good to hear you're inspired by the amazing scenery we have here!

Fill flash is a very useful tool for bringing up the exposure of the shadows to match the ambient light, and I'd recommend using it in the 10 o'clock sun at Smith's Cove. However, be mindful of the position of the sun and how the shadows are falling across your subjects face. If your subject is facing the sun, fill flash will not get rid of the shadows under the eyes (it will reduce them), nor will it help with your subjects squinting. If you're out on the ironshore, try facing your subject more north, shooting more south, so that the angle of the sun is slightly from behind them, lighting the side of his or her face to about the ear. This way, their entire face is evenly in shadow. Now the subjects can keep their eyes open slightly more, and the fill flash will light their face evenly.

Better yet, try putting your subject in the shadow of a sea grape tree. If they are close to were the shade meets the sun, you'll notice a lot of light reflecting from the sand onto your subject; this can be really nice light. With a little fill flash you can achieve a light that doesn't look flashed at all.
Sun is backlighting here. fill flash and sunlight reflecting from the sand light the couple

for the second question....

Generally the best way to capture lightning is by putting your camera on a tripod and taking long exposures (30 sec to 1 min).  That way, as long as the lightning strikes while the shutter is open, it will show up in the image. (some people see my lightning pics and assume I have lightning fast reflexes - not the case. patience and rain gear is more the case.) To capture lightning like this you have to shoot at dusk or at night. It needs to be dark enough to allow for a 30 sec to 1 min exposure.
 Start at F8 with your aperture. If the lightning is too dim, open up to 5.6 (lets in 2x the light). If the lightning is too bright close down to f11. (1/2 the light).
Most important, what else is in the shot besides the lightning? lightning on its own rarely produces an excellent image. Pay attention to what is in the image and how the lightning interacts.
Hope this helps! Feel free to keep the questions coming!

Happy Shooting,


In the new year I'm going to be doing courses and workshops so stay tuned in.



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