Sand Between Your Toes, Sunglasses on Your Nose

Sun Scrim

One method to reduce the brightness of the sun, is to use a scrim over your model. This is a SUNBOUNCE 8-foot by 8-foot SUN SCRIM during one of my shoots in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The weather is warm and the sound of the ocean surf relaxes your mind and body, especially with a drink of the margarita you hold in your hands. A swimsuit clad beauty walks by on the beach, so you raise your sunglasses for a better look, but instead, you’re punished and blinded by the sun as you squint your eyes and now can only see spots.

I got you thinking about that Caribbean vacation during the dead of winter right? Better yet, pretend you’re at one of my beach location workshops and you’ve asked me to give you some pointers for your upcoming beach photo shoot.

photography kicker light

In this lighting set-up we use a SUNBOUNCE PRO reflector as a “kicker fill light” that allows us to combine three forms of light quality, reflected, ambient sunlight, and artificial.

The first thing to remember, while it’s normal for your model to reach for their sunglasses, ask your model not to wear them at least an hour before and throughout the entire shoot. Tell your subject that you want to avoid pressure marks on their nose caused by the sunglass frame. Let them also know by not wearing the sunglasses before and during the shoot, it helps them acclimate to the bright sun and helps to reduce squinting.

Model Reflector Photography Maui Hawaii

This photo of Rebecca was captured using a SUNBOUNCE MINI photography reflector with a SPARKLING SUN fabric screen.

The next thing I’d tell you is to follow the 45/45 rule, which is a fancy way to say angle your reflector 45-degrees so the light falls on your subject light feathered, not full force upon them. It’s about the kiss of light, not the knockout punch of a blast of sun. The idea is to capture a piece of the sun from the side or top of the reflector at a 45-degree angle to simulate natural light.

My final pointer is simple; never ask a subject to look directly into the sun, regardless if your main light is a reflector or a portable flash. It’s a known fact a powerful flash can damage the human eye, well so can reflected sun, especially the reflector is fitted with a silver, gold or zebra fabric screen.

A nice thing about the SUNBOUNCE photography reflector system is that one of their available accessories is called a “tuning-clip.” Basically you can purchase a black matte tulle fabric from the fabric store, or the SUNBOUNCE Bobbynette fabric from them, then stretch it over your silver, gold or zebra reflector fabric screen, and then secure the tulle or Bobbynette with the tuning clips. This technique helps reduce the light intensity and softens the quality of the light where your subject feels the smooth kiss of light.

I know, as soon as I said kiss there at the end your mind went back to the beach, a margarita, the ocean surf, and the warmth, but this time you kept your sunglasses on — that’s because you’re the photographer, not the subject. I hope you enjoyed it, feel free to comment and share. It’s about spreading the gospel of photography. Thanks, Rolando.

Rolando Gomez is a professional photographer and author of five photography books that has traveled to 44 countries for assignments. The former soldier and U.S. Army combat photographer has taught hundreds of photography workshops for almost two decades. A 2016 and 2017 Top Writer for Quora, his partial credits include Newsweek, Parade, Playboy, Rangefinder, Maxim, Rangefinder, New York Times, Stars & Stripes, and various other publications. 
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