Photos in forests

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TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2322
Photos in forests

Hey all,

I'm wondering if anyone has some good ideas/suggestions on shooting in a forest environment. I took my kids to a local waterfalls the other day and even though it was overcast, most of the photos where their skin is properly exposed still have blown highlights (a touch of white on their jackets, or just a hint of extra sun hitting their cheek, etc.). If I expose so as to eliminate any blown highlights, the result is very dark.

But on our walk, it struck me how gorgeous this spot would be for some portraits IF I could eliminate this problem. I've seen some stuff done in forests that are just phenomenal, and this place would be ideal too, but I'm not sure how to get around the blown highlights issue. I know deeper shade is better to reduce the chance of this problem, but light filters through somewhat no matter where you are, it seems. I tried my kids in several spots, all with the same problem.

EL2
EL2's picture
Joined: 12/05/07
Posts: 1665

Can you share some of the pictures of this location? What time are you shooting?

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2322

I was shooting about 11 a.m. Here's a few shots SOOC. I realized just now that my camera display, which is not always accurate, was showing blown highlights but DPP isn't, so in two of these, it's just a bit borderline.

On this one, his skin on the hand and one cheek is actually blown:
SOOC_0003

The camera said this was blown, but DPP says not. Their faces are rather contrasty though.
SOOC_0002

Same thing, camera said she was blown, but DPP says not. It's the most even light of them all:
When the Rain Began

NOTE: These aren't the locations I thought would make great portrait spots, just snaps of where my kids were playing.

Ladybugsteph's picture
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2975

Deep shade is HARD!! I would imagine that to do portraits properly, you would need to first make sure you're out there at a time of day where the sun isn't coming straight down. That would help with the dappled lighting that results from the sun straight above. Even at 3-4pm yesterday on our walk on the trail, I was still getting dappled light. Second, you will want a reflector to get some more light on to the face and even it out. It's about impossible to shoot in deep shade without one. I did one recent shoot with, and another without, and the one without was a lot harder to edit.

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2322

On this day, there was very little in the way of obvious dappled light, but clearly it was 'somewhat' dappled, given my results. Shooting later in the day would be better, though, I can imagine. I have two different locations like this with great paths, areas of fern-filled mossy woods, etc., that would be so fun to try. But it makes me nervous, based on these snaps!

A reflector is definitely a good idea, though I only have a small one so that'd be mostly just useful for close-ups.

EL2
EL2's picture
Joined: 12/05/07
Posts: 1665

I agree with Stephanie. If you can shoot later during the day, I thing that would get rid of the harsh lighting. If you don't have a reflector, I would bring a big white cardboard paper or styrofoam. Another thing you may want to consider is using Off camera flash to get more of light in a deep shaded area.

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2322

Off camera flash is kind of a tough one for me. I don't have the accessories for that yet. The flash, yes, and a very short cable, but nothing wireless and no stands or anything. But I can try the reflector idea and shoot at a different time of day.

Amy_&_Eva's picture
Joined: 08/23/07
Posts: 2378

I don't have any specific tips but I wanted to say I think they look great! I too like to photograph in the woods during hikes and it is a challenge.

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