Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shooting at High Noon with the California Sunbounce Sun-Swatter

Photographers usually try not to shoot when the sun is directly overhead, as the shadows can be unflattering to the subject. We usually try for early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky and gives us better light to work with.

That being said, this photo was taken around noon on a Saturday in Lahaina on a relatively cloudless day, with no flash.

Black and Gold Bikini, originally uploaded by Mizomi Photography.

I used a product called a Sun-Swatter, made by California Sunbounce. I actually bought it used from a photographer on Oahu and had my friend air cargo it to me on Maui the day before this shoot.

This is what the Sun-Swatter looks like:

Basically it's a lightweight frame of translucent material that you can fly overhead to diffuse the light on your subject.  Once you have the overhead light under control, you can then modify it with additional reflectors if you wish.

It's the same thing as finding a shaded area (like under a tree or an overhang next to a building) and placing your subject in it.  The main difference of the Sun-Swatter is that instead of moving your subject into the shade, you can bring the shade to your subject, no matter where your subject is.

For the shot with Corinne above, I had my assistant Ronald hold the Sun-Swatter over her, then had another assistant use a Photoflex Zebra Gold 4x6 litepanel to bounce some light into her face.  (I would have used a Sunbounce reflector, but the Photoflex was the only zebra gold colored reflector I had with me at the time.)

To help hide the fact that I used the Sun-Swatter (the version I have is the pro size which is just barely enough to cover one subject), I shot from as low a position as I could, practically burying myself in the sand.


Because it's so light the Sun-Swatter is very transportable, and we were able to move from the pool to the beach and then to the trees to get a lot of different shots done very quickly.

The one drawback to the Sun-Swatter is that you need to have assistants on your shoot.  The more the merrier.  For this shot with Corinne, if we had a third assistant, I would have had them hold up another reflector to throw a hairlight from behind or come to camera right to brighten up the shadow side of Corinne's face just a skosh.

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