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There are many things to consider when you leave the studio to shoot portraits outside: weather, time of day, and the background to name a few. In this lesson we will show you how you can take the controls you have in the studio with you on location.

By using the Photoflex LitePanel system many of the frustrating factors that location shooting present will disappear. In just a few moments you can singlehandedly set up a LitePanel shooting room and take control of the location rather than letting the location control you.

(Click on any image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • Assembling an Outdoor Shooting Tent
  • Adjusting the Tripod for Low Angle Shots
  • Programming the Camera Settings
  • Using LitePanels for Fill
  • Balancing Light Outdoors

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.


  • Lexar 4 GB 80x CompactFlash™ memory card
  • Lexar 7-in-1 USB 2.0 Multi-Card Reader
  • Olympus 11-22mm Zuiko Zoom Lens
  • Olympus E-1


Our day at the beach got an early start. We wanted to get our shots while our main light, the sun, was low in the sky, so we arrived just after sunrise.

While we wanted the sun to light our set, we did not want the harsh shadows that you get from shooting in direct sunlight. Our answer to this was to build a shooting tent with three Photoflex LitePanel frames. Two frames will have translucent material for diffusing the sunlight. This will result in a nice, soft light for our portraits. One frame will have a reflective material for bouncing sunlight back into our subjects. This is our fill light.


Figure 1

Figure 1 shows our model standing in direct sunlight. The shadows are too harsh for a portrait. The shooting tent will diffuse the sunlight resulting in much softer lighting and more pleasing shadows.

The LitePanel shooting tent consists of three 77X77 inch LitePanels connected together with clips.

The top and sun-facing LitePanels are covered with white translucent covers. The third is covered with the reflective cover of your choice, for our set up we chose the soft gold cover (figure 2).

Figure 2


Figures 3 and 4 show our model standing inside our shooting tent.


The light is greatly diffused and the shadows are much softer as a result of using the shooting tent (figure 5).

Figure 6 shows a comparison of the two lighting situations.

Figure 5

Figure 6


Assembling the Outdoor Shooting Tent

The shooting tent is easy to construct. The following steps show how we constructed our shooting tent with Photoflex 77" by 77" LitePanels.


Figure 7

Here is how we built our LitePanel tent.

The first thing we did was set up two 2218 LiteStands about 77” apart (Figure 7).

Figure 8

Next we put together the first of the LitePanel frames and layed it down next to the light stands (figure 8).


To attach the LitePanel to the stands, we attached a Main and T Clamp to the top of each of the light stands (figures 9 and 10).



Next we stood up the first LitePanel and attached it to the Main & T-Clamps (figures 11 and 12).


Figure 13

Our next step was to cover the first frame. This frame would be the sun-facing section, so we attached the first of the white translucent covers (figures 13, 14 and 15).

Figure 16

To set up the second 77X77 LitePanel we followed the same procedure as the first. We placed the two light stands about 77” from the assembled section, then put together the LitePanel and attached it to the Main & T-Clamps (figure 16).

Figure 17

The second LitePanel would be the fill on our set, so we attached the soft gold cover to it (figures 17, 18 and 19).

Figure 20

The LitePanels are designed to work well in windy situations because the covers are attached only at the corners to allow the air to flow around and through them with out knocking them over. This being said, it’s still a good idea to to secure the shooting tent by placing sand bags on each of the light stands to reduce the chance of mishaps (figure 20).

Figure 21

Next we prepared the two assembled LitePanels for the roof. We attached Connector Clips to the top side of each of the LitePanels, use at least two for stability (figure 21, 22 and 23).

Next, we set up the third LitePanel in-between the set up sections (figures 24, 25, and 26).

Figure 24

Figure 27

With the third LitePanel put together and resting on the ground we attached the second white translucent cover (figures 27, 28, and 29).

Figure 30

To attach the roof of the shooting room we lifted one side of the third LitePanel and clipped it into the connector clips on the top of the first LitePanel. We then brought up the other side and attached the rest of the clips (figure 30, 31, and 32).

Figure 33

When our shooting tent was erected, all we needed do now was arrange it properly to the track of the sun across the set.

We set up the tent with the translucent panel to camera left due to the track of the sun at our location. We made some minor adjustments to square off the stands and we were set (figure 33).


Our next step for this shot was to set up the Manfrotto 055MF3 tripod with the Manfrotto 322RC2 Grip Action Ballhead. For this shot we needed the camera to be low as our subjects would be sitting on the beach. To set the tripod to the low position follow the next few steps.


First unscrew the bottom section of the center column on the tripod (figure 34).

Figure 34

Figure 35

Then loosen the center column locking nut (figure 35).

Next remove both the top and the bottom of the center column (figure 36).

Figure 36


Now slide the bottom section of the center column through the side mounting slot on the top of the tripod and re-install the top section of the center column (figure 37 and 38).



Now we can re-install the camera with the quick release and lower the tripod to it’s lowest point (figures 39-42).


We need to program the camera settings before we begin shooting. The exposure mode should be set to M for Manual (figure 43). Manual will allow us to choose the aperture and shutter speed of our choice. Keep in mind that we will want a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the waves in the background.

We set the remaining programming to the following:

Figure 43


We manually set our aperture to f/6.3. This is a standard aperture setting for portraits. At f/6.3, the background will record sharp enough to be recognizable, yet soft enough to provide a nice separation between the subject and the background.

We made a couple of test exposures and established our best exposure's shutter speed to be 1/320 second. This is a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the motion of the waves.


Figure 44

Our next step was to set up a 39X72 LitePanel to be placed in front of the shooting room to bounce some light into the models' faces. Once the frame was assembled, we installed a white / soft gold cover with the white side out. We then attached the LitePanel to a LiteStand with a Main & T-clamp (figures 44-48).

Now we were ready to start shooting. We called our models to the set and posed them, set the camera into position and shot our first exposures. Figure 49 shows the results before adding the 39X72 fill.

Figure 49

Figure 50

Our shot looked OK, the balance of the foreground and background looked good but we needed the 39X72 LitePanel to bounce more light into the subjects (figure 50).

This result shows the effect the fill has on the subjects. The shot was much better with the extra LitePanel, our balance was right on (figure 51).

Figure 51


Here in this comparison you can see the shot before and after the fill was added (figures 52 and 53).



With our shooting tent and fill set up we could shoot away, the following are some samples from the shoot (figure 54).


Figure 54


Arranging the LitePanels into this shooting tent can help to give you the controls you have in the studio without having to be in the studio. After all, wouldn’t you rather be at the beach?


Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.


  • Lexar 4 GB 80x CompactFlash™ memory card
  • Lexar 7-in-1 USB 2.0 Multi-Card Reader
  • Olympus 11-22mm Zuiko Zoom Lens
  • Olympus E-1

Recommended Links

  • To learn more about Photoflex equipment, go to www.photoflex.com
  • For more tips and techniques on lighting and cameras, visit www.webphotoschool.com and sign
    up for access to the Member Lessons.

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