"Beauty and the Beast"
(1/100sec.@ F/8, ISO 200, 160mm fl, Exp.Comp+0.3, Center Weighted Metering)
Wouldn't you know it? I go out for a simple walk with my camera through Dundurn Castle's gardens and suddenly all cloud cover disappears. When I started out there was this wonderful gauzy cloud cover in the sky, perfect for shooting. Then the minute I stepped out of the car poof! All clouds ceased to exist and I'm left with direct hard light in full sun.
We all know there's a few things we can do to work with light like that. Let shadow and contrast become your subject matter instead, or bring along a ton of reflectors, flash, scrims, anything to battle the light. But this was supposed to be a simple walk for a few garden shots in a historical location. My first inclination? Find the shade!
Around the very edges of the property was a little shade. So I had resigned myself to slim pickings in the way of evenly lit subjects. Till I looked through my view finder.... and saw the sun light in the background! Rich, bright light, that if metered correctly would be a magical foil for anything in the shade. I wouldn't have to resort to full shade after all! But here was the key. I had to use a lens that would allow me to shoot the scene with a softer Depth of Field. I needed a sharp foreground, to isolate my subject (which at this point were these lovely whimsical tiny lilies being buzzed about by busy insects almost as big as they were) but enough compression that a sharp aperture like F/8 would still blur out the sunny distant garden behind. "Hello my sweet little telephoto zoom."
Yes, I could have done some picky post editing and blurred my own background later... but when you can get it done in the camera first, why would you even consider it? I got down close to the ground, kept my subject only in the shade, and moved till the distant row of plants was illuminated behind my target. The farther away the rest of the scene, the better your soft DOF results. But you guys know that. I metered for the subject only and let the scene fill with light. Yellow and gold foliage in the distance kept it from looking blown out, unlike if I had included sky. I got a few snaps off of just the flower, but this was my favorite. The hornet landed just as I pressed the shutter, and his wing position makes him look like he's mimicking the petal shapes... and the one leg dangling off the edge? Priceless.
I couldn't wait to share this image today! And the reminder that full sun and a shallow DOF using a pretty backdrop makes for a magical image without stressing over hard light. So let the clouds come or go! Who needs 'em? Just find a teeny bit of shade and the rest is good to go!
Thanks for the ramble gang! Have a super day!