Last month I had the pleasure of taking fall senior photos in the beautiful Genesee Valley Park (GVP). It was evening in the early fall, and slightly overcast, which made for some really great color in the background and even lighting on Rachel’s face and skin.
Just Before Sunset
I used minimal fill flash on the earlier shots, and even less on the later shots. [For the interested my EXIF shows -1 2/3 stop and -3 stop, respectively]. Not using too much flash really allows for the natural lighting and colors to speak through the photograph.
Why I Love [Early] Fall Senior Photos
This is the image that Rachel selected for her senior photo in the yearbook. It may end up being cropped in the final version. We both liked the contrasting green and yellow early fall color in the background.
I really like this photo for the depth created by the foreground bridge that Rachel is leaning on, the abandoned railroad bridge in the background, and the trees in between. This photo communicates early fall and the colors of the leaves don’t overpower the color of either bridge.
The Magic Begins After Sunset
Although this scene is split between Rachel in the foreground, the shrubby just behind her, and the Erie Canal barge in the background, our attention is still drawn back to Rachel for two reasons. The obvious reason is that she is more in focus, but the more subtle reason is the heavier use of flash causes her to pop off of the background, almost like it was a backdrop. Like I mentioned before, the I set the flash to underexpose by 3 stops, causing the rest of the scene to brighen (even well after sunset). The large aperture, short telephoto lens I was using made for the beautiful bokeh (background blur). [My EXIF shows I was using the Canon 85mm f/1.8 at f/2.2 in this picture].
Moving closer with the same lens and changing the aperture to full open created this result. Notice how the background blur is even more intense and the lights on the barge are even larger in appearance. I love the ephemeral effect created by shooting with fast lenses after sunset. That’s why I often schedule so many of my photo sessions so close against sunset. The reaction of my subject when they see themselves in a photo like this is priceless. This effect cannot be replicated by a smart phone, a point-and-shoot, or a DSLR with a kit lens. Furthermore, when you’ve only scheduled one evening to get the right shot, I would always recommend using someone who has experience shooting in these conditions.
This is my favorite photograph from after sunset. I won’t spoil it by sharing the technical details.
I included this photo because it was taken about 15 minutes after the last group of photos. I love how much color and light came through in the background, even well after sunset.