There was one major problem: The Tea House would be lit from the font at our 10:15 shooting time. This was a big problem because my subjects, standing in the foreground, would be facing into the sun. They would surely be squinting, and have deep shadows on their eyes. Sure, I could fill the shadows with an additional speedlight or two, but that would require a delicate balance between the light I was adding (speedlight fill) and the light that was already there (the direct sunlight). I'd be piling light on top of light, a tricky situation at best. If there was a way to "scrim" (block) the light that was hitting my subjects, I could then add back the as much light as I wanted using those speedlights.
Overdressed: I was way over-equipped for this shot, and I knew it. I brought the following:
- 2 DSLR bodies
- 3 lenses
- 3 dedicated speedlights
- 2 complete Norman 200B units with Quantum heads with umbrella holders
- 2 Eilenchrome Skyport radio flash triggers for the Quantums
- 2 7-foot Westcott Umbrellas (One shoot through, one silver)
- 1 60-inch Westcott shoot-through umbrella
- 1 paint pole
In anticipation of the shot, I had made some enlarged "invitations" created from the event logo glued to the suitable piece of scrap cardboard. I also brought some borrowed parasols to use as props, just in case.
Lights! Camera! Action! At the appointed time, the "talent" arrived, along with the event publicist, who made the introductions. As soon as everyone was settled, we started shooting (Photo #4). You can see how nicely the enlarged event invitations turned out. This was one of the first shots in the series, so some adjustment of the height of the invitations and some minor adjustments in the hand positions were still to be done.
And The Winner Is...: The parasol addressed those issues beautifully. The round outline hid most of the tree branches, making the image much less busy. And now I could see the hands of the middle subject. Photo #5 was one of these last few images, and was a lucky combination where everything worked well together.
|Photo #5: ISO 100, 1/250 of a second, F 5.6|
Looking back, I feel a little humble that my planning actually came up a little short, but Cissie's suggestion gave me the win. The photo was a gift I may not have deserved.