As a general rule, I shy away from broad daylight whenever I can, opting for shade, for cloud cover, for sunsets, whatever. I like to be in control of the light. And so I know, going into this set, that shooting outdoors at 3:30 meant that I had to be prepared to take pictures in ways that I don't normally take pictures.
First a bit of background information. Since Rachel is running as Miss South Salt Lake, the idea we came up with was to include some of downtown Salt Lake City as part of the background for her set. To do this, we decide to shoot on top of a parking garage with some of Salt Lake City's buildings and mountains in the background.
Here are some examples, with more on my blog:
1. Flash plus the sun as accent light
Here we have Rachel standing with the sun to her back (the sun is high and to the right as evidenced by the shadows that you see on the ground). I'm using the sun as an "accent light" for her hair, her arm and hip. An accent light is what helps separate the subject from the background by defining the edges. From there, I added a flash (Canon 580EX II) on a light stand positioning it to the left. I will often use opposing lights like this. The sun and the flash are directly facing each other and Rachel is in between them. I turn her face into my light, because that's what gives her beautiful check bones a lovely 3D appearance.
2. Direct sunlight with flash to soften shadows
(Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 24-70/2.8L at 70mm, ISO 100, 1/320th at f/7.1)
This is definitely not my usual shooting style. Rachel is in direct sunlight here, with fill flash to soften some of the shadows. One advantage to shooting in direct sunlight is that you get a blue sky. The downside is usually that the subject is squinting. So to avoid that, I had Rachel looking down (I do have a few images where I asked her to look at a building that was in the direction of the sun, but this was very hard for her to do).
3. Diffusion panel with sunny background
(Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 85/1.2L, ISO 50, 1/1250th at f/1.8)
Here I have Rachel's boyfriend, Scott, holding a 6' diffusion panel. You can see the shadow created by him (his legs) and the diffusion panel down on the ground. The nice thing about a diffusion panel is that, being about 6' tall and 4' wide, it creates a light source that is much larger than the sun ("soft light" is dependent on the apparent size of the light in relation to the subject) while at the same time remaining a directional source of light (the light still comes from the direction of the sun). One downside of this kind of light is that Rachel is now receiving about one stop of light less than the background which, if we expose for Rachel, causes the background to go bright.
I wanted to note, too, that while I typically turn the subject at about a 45 degree angle to the camera, I felt that this "straight on stance" was bold and showed Rachel's confidence. She is a winner!
4. Clouds and shade plus diffused flash
(Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 24-70/2.8L at 70mm, ISO 100, 1/200th at f/5.6)
Rachel is in the shade of the building to my left. In addition, the sun has gone down quite a bit and is partially obscured by clouds. This has also changed the amount of light hitting the buildings behind her as they are no longer in direct sunlight on them (though you can see the mountains still have some sunlight). In this case, I chose to light Rachel up by using a single flash shooting through an EzyBox Softbox. I discuss this softbox in detail and why I like to use it on my blog here.
5. Beat the sun with flash.
(Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 24-70/2.8L at 24mm, ISO 100, 1/200th at f/11)
The challenge to beating the sun with flash, is that the flash has to put out enough light to balance your subject with the background. I could, of course, simply expose for Rachel and cause the sky to go pure white. But instead, I wanted a "bold" look by putting the sun right over her should and still allowing the blue of the sky to be seen. You can see the brightness of the sun based on the shadows extending in front of her and how bright my flash was by the shadows extending behind her. Remember that light diminishes with the square of the distance. So while her face was lit up pretty good (the flash was just outside of the frame to my right), by the time the light hits the ground it has traveled a good distance and is no longer as bright. In addition, I believe this image was shot with a bare flash (no light diffusion). You can tell this by the shadow underneath her nose.
I can't fit everything here, so please see my blog for more examples and details.