What time of day is best for outdoor portraits in the fall?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Britta G, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. Britta G
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    Britta G New Member

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    I live in Central Utah and will be taking some family pictures for some of my relatives, as a favor to me to give more practice while I wait for school to start. This week the sun rises about 8:00 a.m. and sets around 6:30 p.m. and next week the sun will rise about 7:00 a.m. and set around 5:30 p.m. One location is going to open with not a lot of shading possibilities, and the other location is in a park with lots of trees so I have both open space and shaded space. I do not have a fill flash yet, so I need to know when the best time to go would be to get the best pictures. Thanks for your help!
  2. 1986
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    1986 New Member

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    Any time the sun is rising or setting. The light is best then and you get shadows which add to your photos
  3. PatrickHMS
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    PatrickHMS New Member

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    Taking those kinds of photos depends on light and weather (clouds and shading) a LOT more than it does time of day it is. The position of the sun is important, if there is any sun that day.

    One day at a certain time there might be wonderful ambient lighting for outdoor portraits, while the exact same time of day the next day the light might be totally different.

    Getting the exact right light can "make" (or break) a shot, have you ever noticed some scene you see that would make a wonderful photograph, then notice how the light totally changes, even 5-10 minutes later to where there is no shot at all.

    Proper use of flash will certainly help....
  4. tirediron
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    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member

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    Very hard to say without scouting the actual locations (Which I recommend you do) but typically the best light will be early in the morning, once the sun has cleared the treeline. I would choose whichever location has the best background. I personally like the appearance of dark, softly focused trees as a backdrop for people. Also give consideration to their clothing. If you want/plan to use a dark background, then make sure you have them dress in lighter, non-competing tones. Even if you don't have a flash, you can always (and likely should) have/make reflectors. Even just a sheet of white/light yellow posterboard can be very useful. You may need an asssistant or stand to hold it however.
  5. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    Your camera doesn't have a built-in flash unit? Those can be used for fill. Just put the flash in manual mode and select a low power.

    A way to get off camera light is to use a reflector(s). You can get white foamboard at Wal-Mart or an office supply store. Get a couple pieces, the bigger the better.

    If you don't have shade your assistants (family members) can hold a white sheet over your subject to diffuse the light.

    I checked (I picked Green River) and Sunup in central Utah is closer to 7:45 this week with sundown at 6:25, so with the time change next week sunrise will be close to 6:45 and sundown will be close to 5:30.

    The light changes quickly during those times so it's best to be setup early. The good news is the Sun is already quite a bit lower in the southern part of the sky and isn't as harsh closer to mid-day.

    If I'm wanting to shoot at 6:45 in the morning I want to have everything set up no later than 6:30. Actually, with speedlights you can make some killer images in that 15 minute window just before sunrise and just after sunset

    The hour right after sunrise and the houe just before sunset are called the "Golden" hours. The light is very much from the side and it has a warmer tone than midday sunlight.

    Hope that helps.
  6. Britta G
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    Britta G New Member

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    The only flash I have currently is the pop flash that is on my Nikon D90. Can I use this and still be successful? I have to take steps in getting all of the equipment for finance reasons.

    I took this picture during the last hour before the sunset and was just wondering what I could do to achieve a better result in this lighting since it will be similar. I have edited the photo, but I posted the original so I have a starting point. ( In my edit I removed the bra strap and added contrast).
    [​IMG]
  7. battletone
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    battletone New Member

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    The guy looks scared. Maybe go backwards a ways with the whole shoot so you are past that RR crossing...it appears you would have just tracks, trees, and a sky if you do that. Maybe not, I wasn't there.
  8. Plato
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    Plato New Member

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    The weather is more important than the time of day as long as you avoid noon-time. You want an overcast day so that you have soft lighting and no harsh shadows. We're lucky in New Jersey; it's always overcast! :grumpy:
  9. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    Yes you can, but you need to put the flash in manual mode, set it to less than full power, experiment and practice.

    The white foam board reflectors I mentioned is less than $10 for a couple of pieces and will be around where they have stuff for kids school projects.

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