Oh how wonderful it is to live in the Sunshine State-where the sun definitely comes in handy for lighting! Don't miss those brutal New York winters at all (good luck shooting this picture in February/March up there)
100% of my beach/outdoor work I do use lighting now-I'd say about 90% of all my photography on the beach-I'm just using one light more often then not my modifier is a beauty dish with a bit of diffusion on it for fill. Occasionally I'll use a California Sunbounce and/or butterfly/overhead as well.
That being said, living on the East Coast all my beach work in the day has to be shot really early in the morning while the sun is in my ideal spot. Later in the day/sunset I loose the sun over the ocean, trees block the sun, and of course there's a lot more people distracting us.
Sure you start off the shoot with the sun just as it rises getting a ton of orange and reds. About 45 minutes later you get a lot of yellows and green (here in S. FL at least).
Then finally about 1.5 hours later the sun is very intense-and yet to me in the perfect spot. Take this picture of Haily for instance-color temperature wise my fill is relatively matched to the sun (don't like taking gels to the beach). I metered Haily at f/5.6 and the sun at about f/9.5-f/11.
I can't stress the importance of a light meter, I don't use it to tell me what my exposure is like back in the film days-I use it in order to tell me the levels of my light sources. And typically for a shoot like this I prefer my rim/backlight to be 1.5 stops over my key.
Shooting with my D800 which is quite a beast when it comes to dynamic range, I intentionally overexposed the sun AND while shooting in RAW knew I'd bring down the highlights a touch in post-keeping some detail in the highlights (especially her hair) and yet really making it bright to create some separation from the whitecaps of the waves-which aren't blown out and maintains detail in them.
I hope the takeaway is to really know how far to push your camera, I've done quite a few highkey lighitng photoshoots (one of which I have here on my fstoppers port-the shot with Leticia) in order to see how much detail I can keep in overexposed highlights while in post. And secondly to know exactly how to set up the shot quickly and efficiently thus using a lightmeter. Saving precious time nailing the lighting as opposed to guessing and going off your monitor/histogram with countless test shots. Only to lose the perfect placement of the sun.
Sure we all for the most part light off our monitors in this digital age-just find the balance between the two!
Model: Haily Lynn
MUA: Michelle Leila
Swimwear by: Love Triangle Swimwear
Location: Boca Raton, FL