Inside The Doorway
My first ever senior session was also my first paid shoot and took place right here in my little town. I really was at a loss of what all I needed to do other than make sure it was at that magical time just before sunset. With a hill to the West and a large building/quonset I had some great area to shoot prior to sundown and I took advantage of some trees as well. I knew I needed my nifty fifty and tried shooting into and away from the sun. When all was said and done, I was pretty impressed that I got away with about 30 really decent usable shots. The kid was a natural, smooth, well groomed, tough looking and casual with a motorcycle. It was great fun for me as a starter.
This kiddo pulled out a guitar as well and we did some shooting in the doorway of the quonset. The door faced East away from the sunset and there was a cement pad on front of it. In the darkened background behind him was the glow of a workbench light. I didn't get too excited, the guitar was just for fun...or so I thought. But when peeking through the screen on the back in between shots, I found that the lighting was perfect for the idea I was thinking of.
I'm on the lookout now for open doors wherever we shoot. Garage, barn or whatever that is facing away from the sun. Even before the golden hour you can get a lot of great shots if you place your subject just inside the dark area of the opening and let the natural light come on in. No reflector or other lighting needed sometimes.
Today I went in broad daylight to our local county riverside picnic area and noticed the carport like covers that protect the tables from rain or what have you. They are open on the sides and ends and that allows great light to enter on either side or all around. I've shot inside them before in the evening which allows you to capture the background nicely and keep the harsh highlights of the sun off of your subject. In this image, there is great evening light on the hair, which could have been filtered away, but I liked it. You'd never know they are under a carport.
Depending on where you need to stand, a reflector or scrim over you may be helpful to keep unwanted sun flare at bay, but it provided a great amount of light and makes for a wonderful capture of the background. This venue has a cement floor which would help for uplighting your subject.
The light just inside our barn door would be plenty to produce great subject lighting, but to capture the essence of the bales and wood behind, I would suggest a reflector or some kind of light behind the subject as well, just to get a glimpse of what's behind.
This one was taken on an East facing porch behind the house in earlier light than I like to shoot. No harsh lighting and great bounce onto the face and eyes without a reflector or fill light.
A grainary doorway works too. Old farm buildings are a nice way to capture a rural tone in photos for the farm kids. This small grainary allowed light in from between the slats but provided some great lighting in the South facing doorway. Mom was holding a reflector at camera right and my son stood on the outside of the wall to the subjects right side and used his ball cap to shade the highlight off of the subject's face. Had he been much farther back into the doorway, the light would have fallen off and I'd need to use a fill light that may have left it's own nasty shadows. And the door frames this nicely.
A little different approach here. This is a newer set of metal bleachers. I shot some images on top and man were they bright. Poor kid could barely open his eyes facing away from the sun. It was hard to control, but we found this little gem of a place below the bleachers in that bright daylight. This is at the side opening behind the first set of braces looking North, or a little Northwest. You can see a highlight sneaking through on his pants between the seats of the bleachers. But it is nice even light coming from his left, or camera right and the new cement, new aluminum all didn't hurt either to add light and reflect evenly. Just to his right the crow's nest building stood and is bright white which cast a highlight onto his face (right side). In retrospect, I'd have added a reflector to even out the other side of his face.
I plan to use this kind of hack whenever available and you may find some cool looking entryways that add character to the image you are making. I'm hoping to shoot in a neighboring small town soon that has an East facing door on an open tin shed. Every year there is a great hanging Ivy growing along the rail at the top and it hangs down into the doorway really nicely. I'll see if I can talk someone into taking a shot there this year.
Try it. With a reflector if needed, cement is better, and you can shoot at a much earlier time if needed or start there until the sun sets a little. Hope it works as well for you as it does for me.
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