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Eliminating Dark Shadows in Portraits

Scott Robert Lim | Champion of Light

"I love how the Reflex S is small and portable, yet delivers unequaled, clean powerful light. It's revolutionary."

Scott Robert Lim, an international master photographer and Sony Artisan with over 20 years of experience in wedding photography, shares his passion for telling love stories through cinematic wedding photography. He believes that the key to creating stunning wedding images lies in great lighting. That’s what separates seasoned professionals from novice photographers.

"The problem with a wedding is it’s totally unpredictable and can be very chaotic and stressful if you don’t know what you're doing. So how do I take an unpredictable and potentially chaotic situations and consistently create good imagery?"

"The solution is very simple.. when the lighting is lacking in my environment, I use my StellaPro Reflex to quickly and easily create great lighting for me when I need it. What’s the result - consistently great lighting in every wedding situation, helping me create the love story, I want to tell."

"StellaPro asked me to share how I use Reflex on a REAL wedding. In this blog post you will learn how I use the Reflex S to eliminate dark shadows in portraits.

The one thing you can’t control at a wedding is sunlight. The wedding photographer has to negotiate all types of lighting situations from overcast, to bright, harsh light which is the most difficult situation to deal with. If the photographer can create a compelling portrait in harsh sunlight, everything else will seem easy.Here are two tips when shooting in this difficult situation:

1. Keep the nose to the light. This will eliminate dark shadows in wrong areas of the face which can be very unflattering on the subject. Bright and harsh light is very unforgiving, meaning if you don’t position the light correctly on your subject,the shadows will usually make the photo unpresentable because it’s very hard to remove harsh shadows in post. Keeping the nose to the light makes sure the face is always lit correctly.

2. Add a strong light directed at the dark shadow side to show more detail in the portrait. The sun is your main light and the Reflex is your second light controlling the shadows.

Note: Subjects with dark hair have the dilemma of blending into the background and getting a bit lost. I use the Reflex to easily create separation between the subject and the background, defining, and outlining my subject while adding glow. It’s like creating dramatic sunset lighting whenever and wherever you want. Romantic Couple Portraits For me, the most important shots of a wedding are the formals, these photos are very important to establishing a career - if done well.
 The problem is… time, there is usually not enough of it, and can be a very stressful situation.Here are some tips on creating great bridal photos quickly and easily.

  1. Look for backlight. Backlight creates mood and makes every shot look romantic. Make sure to position the subjects heads with the light behind them so you can see a clear head shadow on the ground. This will create a light halo around the heads and veil for a glowing effect.

 2. look for glowing trees or leaves that seem to light up because of the sun backlighting them. This will make the perfect backdrop.

 3. Add light onto your subjects, especially if there is very strong backlight. The added light on your subject will help balance the exposure- meaning the exposure in the background vs. the exposure of the subject is balanced. I use my Reflex to do this and i can create the perfect ratio to my taste. The brighter your background light, the more light you will need on your subject and the Reflex has enough power.

 I usually would need a flash to output this much power but now I can use my Reflex which is perfect to capture video too. Your stills will match the video.I also use the same technique with my group bridal formals. Typically photographers would need to use a powerful flash to add light on the subjects but my Reflex has enough power to do the job and is very easy to set up because i can see the amount of light on my subjects and can adjust the light for the perfect blend - background exposure to subject exposure. When making the group interact for candids, I shoot many frames per second to capture those perfect moments of expression. Typically, a standard flash could not keep up because of recycle times a flash needs before it can fire again.
 However when you use constant light like the Reflex, you never have to worry about recycle times and can fire 20-30fps if you want. By using the Reflex, I am capturing more beautifully crafted moments."


The brighter your background light, the more light you will need on your subject and the Reflex has enough power. I usually would need a flash to output this much power but now I can use my Reflex which is perfect to capture video too. Your stills will match the video.I also use the same technique with my group bridal formals. Typically photographers would need to use a powerful flash to add light on the subjects but my Reflex has enough power to do the job and is very easy to set up because i can see the amount of light on my subjects and can adjust the light for the perfect blend - background exposure to subject exposure. When making the group interact for candids, I shoot many frames per second to capture those perfect moments of expression.

Typically, a standard flash could not keep up because of recycle times a flash needs before it can fire again. However when you use constant light like the Reflex, you never have to worry about recycle times and can fire 20-30fps if you want. By using the Reflex, I am capturing more beautifully crafted moments."

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