Friday, November 23, 2012

Hoping for gloomy weather

I'm sure it's not every photographer who actually hopes it's going to be grey, cloudy and miserable but I found myself wishing that a few weeks back. I had another portrait shoot to do for James Cook University - this one was of Allana Brown who is a Senior Project Officer at the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Programme. So I knew I wanted to photograph her outdoors.

I also knew that later in the morning I was photographing another one of of JCU's Sustainability graduates in the tropical rainforest so I went for the ocean part of her job title!

Sunrise in the tropics is very hit and miss -as evidenced by all the people left grumpy after clouds obscured the solar eclipse from some locations last week! We always have clouds on the horizon, and often totally in front of the sun.

In my case I was looking forward to trying a technique I'd read a lot about but had never had a chance to put into action. It involves using the Tungsten white balance on your camera to turn the grey background into a lovely shade of blue. Perfect for when it's really a lovely shade of horrible grey!

Of course when you do that Allana goes blue as well, so to combat that you need to light her with a flash - in this case a 580 EX II speedlite. Just shooting straight flash would still turn her blue so you need to put a CTO (orange) filter over the front. The strength of the orange colour will affect what colour Allan is without affecting the background at all. In this case I wanted it to seem like the sun was shining golden so I added quite a strong filter to the front and shot with a telephoto lens to bring the background mountains in nice and close.

I love the combination of orange subject and tranquil blue background and this is definitely a look I could get used to on those frequent cloudy days.