It’s easy to fall in love with Hawaii, and if you’ve visited there and punted around the various islands, it’s also easy to have a favorite spot, or island. For me, it’s the Big Island, and more specifically, the Kona Coast. Just an amazing mix of ruggedly beautiful terrain, striking sunsets and gorgeous beaches.
The sun there makes for wonderful golden hours, early and late, but midday can be a challenge, given its solar strength. Hence, a sunrise walk around the Four Seasons Hualalai, which is a phenomenally beautiful place, seeking the low light, is a joy. But, as you see below, when midday hits, shooting portraits is a whole different ball game.
Photogs often don’t have much choice in terms of the time of day a wedding occurs, or the schedule of a subject for portraiture. So, occasionally, a studio in the sun is called for.
Managing bad light well is incumbent on all photographers. We have to play the hand we are dealt. And the sun can feel doubly strong in the tropics in the middle part of the day. (Witness the flare from the quick BTS phone snap below to illustrate the angle of the sun and the challenge.)
You see three light shapers above. The far one, the big octa, is just a sun blocker. Improvisation is the rule of location shooting, and there was hot sunlight glinting on our models’ shoulders. so the Profoto 4′ Octa doubles here as a gobo. (It works really well as a light source, BTW:-)
The light below was created by two large Profoto RFi strip softboxes, fitted with B1X units. Together, they thoroughly overpower the daylight which again, is no small task. Working this way gives you control, which in turn gives you great options, such as a monochrome for Katie, or to remain in the color realm for the portrait of Kelsey.
Shooting information for these: Nikon D850 with the 70-200 f2/8 1/250th f/13. The other techy stuff is the background– a Lastolite 2 meter Skylite Rapid, fitted with blackout material, and the usual dose of Avenger c-stands. (Big lights, big stands.)
The folks at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai could not be more helpful or accommodating. Setting up an outdoor studio right outside our lanai is a big deal when we have a bunch of gear and saves tons of time. Ahh, Hawaii! Walk outside your door into beauty. Annie and I sometimes fantasize that one year, when we go, we’re just going to purchase one way tickets.
It’s amazing there. The great thing about the environment and the light, as a photographer, is that it is always changing and evolving, usually for the better. In our classes, we went from the controlled aspects of an impromptu studio, to later, as the sun dropped and picked up color, a lesson in managing long lenses and using auto focus. Dynamic subjects, which perfectly describes Katie and Kelsey, requires knowing your AF systems, and which variant thereof to use. Thankfully, these athletes can run all day and gave our shooters repeated opportunities to work on framing and focusing for moving subjects.
Tip of the hat to Katie and Kelsey, all of the folks in our classes, and especially to the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, who have welcomed us now four years in a row. The workshops we do there keep growing, and it’s a privilege to be able to teach photography in literally one of the most beautiful places in the world.