Photo: Buckingham Fountain

Mama and Christian posing in front of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.

Buckingham Fountain
Buckingham Fountain

Back Story

Over the weekend, we took our son downtown for the first time since he was born. Although both my wife and I have lived in the Chicago area our entire lives, we don’t make it downtown as often as you’d think.

This shot was taken in front of Buckingham Fountain, and although the temperature and cloudless sky all day was gorgeous for walking around by the lake, it was the definition of harsh for snapping a few portraits. That said, we must have saw at least 3 wedding parties with photographers trailing behind them as they hit all the sights and photo ops. 🙂

The Technique

But on to the technical stuff. I took this around 11:30am, so you can imagine how bad the shadows were with the sun overhead. Despite the light, I knew I could still get a keepsake shot for our family album by using a speedlight to – as they say – overpower the sun.

So, I did a few test exposures of the fountain itself while our little guy was still tucked away in his stroller. That let me get a decent idea of what I’d have to shoot at in order to get enough of the background lit by the sun alone. I ended up with f/11 and 1/250th of a second at ISO 100.

Then, I threw those settings into Manual mode and powered on my flash (Canon 430 EX II). Keeping the exposure settings where they were, I experimented with the Flash Exposure Compensation to add/reduce the amount of fill lighting my lovely models until I got the mix I wanted.

Adorama TV Video

Here’s one of the videos from Adorama TV that first introduced me to this technique. It goes into more details of what’s happening.

Although I still need a little practice with the technique, I’m still happy with this result.

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