If you want to shoot in full sunlight an use speedlights to light your subject, here are a few tips:
Whenever possible, I place the subject in a shaded area. This gives me much more control over the light on the subject, as I set my initial exposure at 1 stop underexposed on the background. In this case my exposure was ISO 100, 1/250 @ f/11. At this exposure, the subject will be in shadow, giving me a good canvas to add light to the subject.
For this shot, I placed the surfers under the shade of palm trees. As you can see in the video, both the mainlight (with the traveller 8 Softbox), and the rim light (with a Speed Grid and CTO Filter) is placed very close to the subject- between 4 and 5 feet. Both speedlights were set at full power.
The traveller8 gives a nice even, soft light on the subject, and adding the Speed Grid with the CTO filter simulates a warm sunset light on the right side of the surfer.
Modifiers used on this shoot:
It was a beautiful overcast day just south of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, and no better place to shoot model Maluhia Kawai than the jagged lava rocks at Kualanui Point. The tech details couldn't be simpler! The cloudy sky gave us an evenly lit background exposure of 1/125th second @ f/4 (100 ISO). We then lit Maluhia with a Honl Photo traveller8 Softbox on a Nikon SB900 at full power, sometimes lowering the power setting when moving the speed light closer to the subject. Moments later, the sky opened slightly, revealing an amazing Hawaii sunset. All settings stayed the same, but I bumped up the shutter to 1/200th for a slightly darker sky.
Check out the video to see the placement of the Speedlight, and how the traveller8 gives an even, soft light on the subject and provides a nice separation from the background.
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With a majority of my portrait work I use just a single speedlight and one of my traveller8 Softboxes. This portrait of well-known Australian actress Virginia Hey was no exception (you've seen Virginia in countless movies and TV shows, including Mad Max 2 and Farscape).
You can see by the placement of the softbox to Virginia's face I kept in close (about 3 feet) and above her eyes to give subtle shadowing under her nose. I also added a 1/4 CTO Filter to the speedlight to give a slightly warm tone to her face, and in this case the gray seamless background paper. You can see the difference in color temperature between the 2 pictures- another great example of how a very slight color change can really give you completely different looks. Many times I'll shoot against a plain white wall and vary the look with color filters or exposure.