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How to Take Great Portraits Under the Midday Sun with a Single Flash


Shooting portraits under the midday sun is less-than-ideal because of the harsh shadows it can create. In this quick video, Manny Ortiz shows how to remove those shadows and create beautiful portraits using a single fill light.

For this video, Ortiz hit the beach with his model Jasmine Solaye to demonstrate his technique. With the sun high in the sky, he poses Solaye so that she is facing the shadow, and then positions his lighting to fill in that side with flash.

The sun will create some highlights on the model’s skin, but as long as it doesn’t fall directly on her face, the resulting images work very well.

The best way to position your flash is at a 45-degree angle from the sun. If that isn’t possible, just try to position the model so that her face is in shadow. In this example, Solaye’s hair blocks the sunlight from hitting her face. Perfect!

All of the attached photos were taken with Ortiz’ new Sony a9, and fortunately, Manny doesn’t mention any overheating issues in the challenging conditions. The final images are beautiful, showing how a single light, set up properly, can allow you to take photos in an otherwise unworkable situation.

To see more from Manny, visit his website, give him a follow on Instagram, or subscribe to his channel on YouTube.

Image credits: All photographs by Manny Ortiz and used with permission.