Using Soft or Hard Light Modifiers for Outdoor Beauty Photography

The sun is great and all, what with it being the primary source of life on this planet, but it can often get in the way of a good photo shoot. There are only a couple of hours each day that the sun can light a scene with any drama; the rest of the time it’s too flat and harsh to be of much use. But sometimes you don’t have a choice—maybe your model is only available in the middle of the day—which means you’ll have to start lugging your studio equipment around with you. In this video, photographer Michael Zelbel gives some insight on a couple of lightweight solutions that will give you more control over your outdoor scenes, and some tips on how to best use them:

Zelbel carries two light modifiers with him, a 43-inch Octa softbox  and a 27.5-inch beauty dish, both made by Phottix. There’s no hard and fast rule when to choose one over the other—it’s just a matter of seeing which one looks better for a given scene. In general, you’ll want to modify with harder light, since it’s a more natural fit for an already brightly lit scene.

using light modifiers photography

Though you’re better off bringing both kinds of modifiers with you, just to have more options, sometimes you can get away with just the Octa. Push it close to your subject for softer light, or back it away and the light gets harder. If it’s very sunny out, though, pulling the Octa too far and the light it’s throwing towards the scene will be washed out by the sun.

This is why Zelbel recommends taking at least two light modifiers with you. They’re lightweight, fold up small, and will give you a wide variety of lighting scenarios and finer control over your scenes.

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