I can't believe how long it's been since I answered a photographer question on my blog! What a slacker I've turned into!

This question from Dusty was a comment on my blog back in November on the Meyer Family Portrait post and I've been meaning to get to it ever since.

Dusty has a great question about lighting. Lighting is something I feel like I've just learned a ton about this past year. When I first started I would place my subjects in locations based on the background rather than the light. I learned fairly early on that I could get very even lighting in full shade so I would stick to locations where I could place my subjects in the shade and the entire background would be shade as well--so the lighting was even. This works well and I still do this often. But in the past year I've realized the full extent of how much light affects photos. Light is by far the most important variable in creating a great photo. I've found that if I find great light, the background of a photo is less important.

Dusty's questions referred to the following photographs:
Both photos were shot with my 70-200mm in the same location. I did move myself around the subjects a bit to get the second effect.

Here's another recent example of my new favorite lighting scenario:
Basically what I do is I look for the end of a shady area --where the shade ends and light begins and where the shade is possibly diffusing part of the sun--making it less harsh. In all of the above examples, I used trees. But buildings work great as well. Trees are excellent because they can be used to block part of the sun but still let some of it through. I place my subjects' backs to the sun in the spot where the sun is still hitting their heads but the bulk of the background is shaded. This means that the light will be the same on their faces as it is in the background. But instead of it being a flat photo -- like photos that are in full shade -- this scenario creates some nice hair light that separates the subjects from the background and often gives a nice glow to the photo. Depending on how much light is coming through and where you position yourself you can get some flare or some of the beams that you see in the second photo. You have to experiment with your positioning while shooting to get the different effects. I rarely shoot with the sun in the frame -- that creates more of a silhouette effect -- but shooting with the sun slightly out of the frame works well.

I hope this answers your question Dusty and helps others of you out there who are learning about light!
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