Natural studio

Sometimes we’re called to shoot just a head and shoulders portrait of a person (often referred to as a mugshot). In a studio a photographer can control the light, but out in the field the lighting conditions usually aren’t ideal. You can often ameliorate bad light by using a fill-flash technique or simply moving your subject into the shade.

I had an assignment to get a mug of Tokay High baseball pitcher Alex Dentoni during a game at Stagg High School in Stockton. It was about 7 p.m. or so, and the game had just started. I went into the Tokay dugout to shoot the game as well as get the mug of Dentoni. He wasn’t playing that night, and between innings I asked for Dentoni to shoot his picture.

The sun was very low in the sky, just above some trees and buildings to the west. The light was beautifully warm and came in at a nice low angle. Some of it bounced around the narrow dugout and gently filled in the shadows on Dentoni’s face. The roof of the dugout created a nicely angled soft shadow on the bright yellow background of one of the walls. The sun created some nice sparkling catch lights in his eyes.

In the studio it would have taken me at least several minutes to set up the strobe lights to create such light, but in the field it was already there for the taking, courtesy of Mother Nature herself.

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