Our Tips & Tricks series aims to give beginners, amateurs and professionals alike more ways to approach different aspects of photography and videography. For each installment, we’ve enlisted the expertise of our staff and have received their feedback on method and equipment.
We all know noon is never the best time to get outdoor portraits. The light is harsh due to the sun being directly overhead. You can’t escape from it. But if you’re pressed for time and you have to shoot at noon, there are methods and to tools you can use to get around the high noon sun.
Luckily, the only tools you’ll really need are an affordable, compact, easy-to-use Promaster 5-in-1 Reflector and either an assistant or a LumoPro Reflector Arm, plus whatever camera and lens you’d like to use.
You always want to have your subject stand with his or her back to the sun. This way they won’t be squinting. Here’s what happens when you have your subject facing the sun:
So when you have your subject’s back to the sun, use your reflector’s white diffusion panel and situate that on the reflector arm above and behind your subject, between your subject and the sun. This will turn the sunlight from a harsh light source to a nice diffused soft light.
Check out the difference between that image with the diffuser and an image without the diffuser:
Notice the hard shadows on my shirt and face, as opposed to the soft diffused light that falls evenly.
To add extra light, use your reflector’s white bounce panel and either have your assistant hold it under the subject’s face or to the side of the subject, or even have your subject hold it. You could use the silver reflector, but that throws a harder light, and the gold panel will add a yellowish tint to your subject’s complexion.
Don’t have a reflector? Seek total shade, such as under an awning, on a covered bridge (you could get some cool light-funneling shots there), or in an alleyway. Be careful when using trees for shade that you’re not getting speckled lighting coming through the trees, unless of course that’s the look you’re going for.
Try shooting a high noon outdoor portrait this weekend! Good luck!