Mixed Light Selfie On The Beach

Mixed light photography

My wife Diane and I love the beach at Siesta Key, Florida. Anyone who has been to this beach raves about the white powder sand. As a photographer, I’m often left out of pictures. Which is OK. However, this particular trip caused me to think about a photo of my wife and I. Especially since we enjoy Siesta Key beach as we do. I’m always telling Diane, I want to create our portrait on the beach.

So one evening after we’d gotten cleaned up and had dinner, I told Diane; OK, let’s do the portrait on the beach thing tonight. The first words from Diane were; OK, let me fix my hair!  Imagine that. I told Diane, I want to get my camera set up, so I’ll head out and you can catch up.

The problem with this type of photography at this time of day is the low light levels and mix of light sources. With the sun setting or after sunset, you need a long exposure in order to capture the ambient light. To insure the light on the faces is correct, means you need to add some flash. Now you have a mixed light source. So how does this work?

First you need to make the giant leap of faith and shoot in manual! I  can hear you out there now: OMG – shoot in manual, what’s an f-stop? Yep, you will need to know your f-stop from shutter speed. The quick answer is to use the lens aperture to control the flash exposure. Then find a shutter speed to control the ambient exposure. After that, it’s just an issue to get the pose right. In this set up, I didn’t want to drag extra strobes, light stands, camera and tripod onto the beach. Although for you I’d make sure the extra lights are used. One other handy item was the hand held remote for the camera.

So after was all said and done, Diane and I chose the image below to have printed. OK, I’ll admit I did enhance the night sky a little. Let me know your thoughts!

We have this wonderful body of water here called Lake Erie. So if you’d like to have your family photographed in a setting like the one shown, contact me.

Mixed Light - night portrait on the beach

Diane and Tom on the Siesta Key Beach at dusk.

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