When shooting portraits outdoors, it is typically necessary to use speedlites or strobes to balance ambient lighting. When the sun is very harsh, using a strobe with high power is particularly necessary. Unfortunately, using a high powered strobe or speedlite can force the photographer to shoot at an undesirable f-stop when using manual settings. This will inhibit the photographer’s control over depth of field.

To solve this issue, Westcott Top Pro Elite educator Zach Gray utilizes a neutral density filter. Using a neutral density filter is like using sunglasses on a camera. A neutral density filter allows for a darker exposure while maintaing a lower f-stop. This also allows for a slower shutter speed or a higher ISO setting, giving the photographer the ability to shoot is bright conditions without loosing control over the depth of field in the portrait.

Neutral density filters are available in different stops, for use in a variety of lighting conditions. During this portrait session, Zach is using a 3-stop neutral density filter. To properly set his camera for this, Zach adjust his f-stop for 3-stops brighter.

To over power the bright sunlight, Zach modifies his strobe with the 35″ Zeppelin Deep Parabolic softbox. This large modifier is constructed with a highly reflective silver interior, which maximizes light and produces a broad, wraparound output.

Zach Gray - Neutral Density Filter 3Zach Gray - Neutral Density Filter 2Zach Gray - Neutral Density Filter 1

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