Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Squint-Reduction: Cross-light with the Sun

It is funny how Strobist seems to always know just what I am thinking about. It's also funny how I can reuse photos from the last post to fill this post (just watch!).

Anyway, the most recent Strobist post discusses simple cross-lighting with the sun. While I read and understood the original cross-lighting articles (here, here, and here) it only really hit home on Saturday's TFCD shoot that I can't force my subjects, especially children, to face the sun. Otherwise I get the dreaded squint effect at left.

I always just figured my own kids were too sensitive to the sun and tried to position subjects with their faces toward the sun anyway because it is the most direct lighting. My son, in particular, can't take any sun in his face and we have a ton of pictures in our archives where he has his head tipped down, looking up at the camera through watery eyes.

Of course, maybe it is my own high resistance to sun; I haven't had a pair of sunglasses for over 7 years. I just kept sitting on them and breaking them, so I gave up and let my bushy eyebrows shade my pupils. Side note: how come every year my eyebrows are larger but the hair on my head is disappearing?

When I was setting up on Saturday before the shoot, I naturally chose a lighting scheme where I used my single strobe to cross-light with the sun. My goal, of course, was to keep the sun out of their eyes (and choose an angle where the speckled light wouldn't make patterns on anyone's face). And once I placed the sun at camera left, I needed to put the flash at camera right to balance. Only after the shoot did I realize I had cross-lighted.

Of all the shots, these are my technical favorites. Like Strobist says, cross-lighting with the sun is a dirt simple trick in your repertoire which is a good fall-back if nothing else is working. The best part is, you only need a single flash!

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