Over the weekend I got a call from a real estate team that I shoot property photography for. They needed an editorial portrait of Tami, one of the partners, and they needed to deliver the image to a client by tuesday morning. They wanted a fashion inspired editorial portrait using a Range Rover as a prop. In atypical Southern California fashion the heavens opened up and the rain wasn’t expected to stop for a week. Plan A was a parking garage and plan B was the beach. As luck would have it the skies parted and we were able to schedule it for sunset at the beach.
It was cold, windy, the ocean was chop but at least it wasn’t raining. I got there early in order to figure out how I was going to make Tami look great without the photo looking like a cliche “girl on a car” photo. Worse yet, I couldn’t have the photo look like a Range Rover commercial with Tami as the prop.
I shot a few pics of the ocean and sunset and waited…..
And then I watched the sun go down. So much for Plan A.
Jim and Tami arrived a few minutes after the sun went down and in order to keep Tami’s hair intact and keep her warm, I used Jim as a stand-in. By the time we got the framing we wanted and had shot a few tests, the sun had been down for 15 minutes. While there was some ambient light in the sky I was getting away with using strobes. After the light began to fade the background became dark and lifeless. Because I thought we would be shooting into the setting sun I packed a reflector. We turned on the headlights, I cranked up the ISO on my camera, and we were able to light Tami using just the bounced light from the headlights.
A year ago I would have never considered shooting at an ISO of 2500 but I needed all the help I could get. In a lot of circumstances professional photographers are asked to make it work. We have to adjust to the circumstances and make great images with what we’ve got. In this case it meant shooting in the dark.