The ProShow Blog

Tips, tutorials & inspiration for making slideshows

Leveraging Light: A Sunset Strategy by Suzette Allen

Intro by Skip Cohen

A few months ago a good friend told me I was having way too much fun. “Fun” is one of those words too often lost in business today. All of us get so wrapped up in the day to day challenges we forget to have fun! Well, fun is one of those things I love about Photodex and their approach to helping photographers become better storytellers.

One of their trademarks is their support of education. Sharing your images in a slideshow becomes “fun” when it’s done well and helps create a stronger relationship with a client. Photodex never slows down on building great content and this series featuring Suzette Allen, who I refer to as the “Queen of Hybrid,” is a perfect example. You can’t create great slideshows if the images you use are mediocre!

This week Suzette is sharing some great tips on developing a sunset strategy. While some of you might find this pretty basic, I’m betting the majority of you will find it a great reminder to take your time and develop a strategy, even when shooting in sweet light!

Your goal with every client is to exceed expectations, and that’s where slideshows can be an incredible ingredient. I’m always surprised at how many of you still haven’t jumped on the presentation bandwagon. There’s very little that beats a series of great still images, short video clips, and great music all put together to demonstrate your ability to tell the story of a client.


By Suzette Allen

I photographed a friend in Florida for her 30th birthday at sunset. The images were awesome and varied in style because there are so many phases and types of light during a sunset. In the course of 30 minutes, you can get a huge variety of looks if you know how to leverage the light.

In this session, we had about 15 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after. We were in a simple marina/cove with a cement edge (no beach), a wooden ramp and a smaller pier. The sun was still shining and harsh when we arrived so I faced Sarah away from the sun and let it shine through her hair, backlighting and giving a little flare or edge light. The cross light gives dimension and the open sky is a soft forgiving light for the face.

Once the sun set and the light was soft but directional, I swapped sides with her (light was behind my shoulder), and posed her on the ramp and pier for impeccable light with the whole scene bathed in glorious pink sunset light.


As the sunset progressed and the sky turned pink, the only way to capture that was to light her up to match, so we brought out a hand-held LED light (about 4″x6″) which is a small hard light, but gave it a fashion look.

We used it off-camera and focused on “butterfly light” which puts a small shadow below the nose and it’s quite flattering.




Once it got even darker, we switched to the Lumix 42.5 Nocticron which is a f1.2 lens, which allowed us to shoot into the late evening and we just turned down the power on the light to match the setting sun.

The nice thing about shooting with LED lights after sunset is you can see what you are doing, balance the light sources visually, and focus well! (and also the models eyes are not so dialated).

So, for a spur of the moment photoshoot, with only a few minutes before sunset, we captured a lot of styles with only a small LED light!
Note: All images captured with Panasonic’s NEW Lumix G9. With full resolution in a 20.3-megapixel sensor, plus 80 megapixels high-resolution JPEG/RAW in-camera image.

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