Glamour in your Lens

The Weather

THIS CHAPTER IS brief and to the point.

In this country the bathing-beauty season is short and unpredictable. It would be ridiculous do describe the ideal conditions for taking pin-up pictures as though these conditions occurred three or four times a week all the year round.

Sad to say, a great deal of photography consists in making the best of a bad job. And this is particularly true of amateur glamour photography, in which two people participate, two people who generally have full-time jobs and only the week-ends free.

If you are to take pictures at all, you'll often find yourself doing so when conditions aren't what you'd have chosen, to put it mildly.

High contrasts in sunshine need careful exposure.
Photo James Macgregor.

But don't even try when it's really cold. Trying to make your model look warm and happy and comfortable when she isn't won't work. Professional models have to be prepared to model swimsuits in January, and they develop a technique for it--no to mention the constitution of a polar bear. Ordinary girls, however, even if you are cruel enough to make them wear swimsuits when furs would be more reasonable, can't look as if they were enjoying it, certainly not for long. A couple of exposures, perhaps. No more.

So the first essential is that the weather should be warm.

Sunshine and wind make invigorating pictures.
Photo Alex Sterling.
Warm and Sunny

When it's warm and sunny is the best time, naturally. Sunlight is the softest, kindest, most beautiful light there is, provided it's treated properly. Use a green or yellow filter.

This is the light that will give the most effective modelling. The sun at a side-front angle is the easiest to deal with. Shadows will be there to give relief, but it won't be too deep to obscure detail. Keep an eye on cast shadows. They can create a rather weird effect and spoil a likeness by over-emphasizing the angles and hollows of the face.

A sun low in the sky, either in the morning or evening, gives a soft light that can create a romantic atmosphere. Lighting from an overhead sun is harsher and bolder, making for greater contrast. Be sure that the shadows are sufficiently illuminated by reflection.

Warm but Not Sunny

When it's warm but not sunny, all is not lost. In this case there generally won't be any blue sky, and it doesn't matter much whether you use a filter or not. Since you have only a blank white sky which will add little or nothing to your pictures, concentrate on shots from a high angle this time. In addition to giving more exposure, give a little more development: instead of trying to cut down contrast, you could now do with a little more. Don't suggest sunbathing in your pictures; they won't look right. Move closer to your model; her face will look very attractive in this soft light, her figure less so. This is also a good time for bathing pictures--the spray will still be white and sparkling.

If the light is too soft to provide sufficient modelling, flash can be used to simulate sunlight. In this case the flash should be at about the normal flash-to-subject distance for indoor photography. This technique needs very careful handling if the result is not to look artificial and even peculiar.


When it's raining there are two things you can do on the beach--gimmick and bathing pictures. Gimmick pictures can't be listed. They should suggest themselves--a girl in a swimsuit with a raincoat over her head, for example, or carrying all her clothes and dashing for shelter. If after you've made your model pose in the rain you find your lens was wet and the exposure is ruined, it serves you right.

When photographing in the rain, select a shutter speed that will give the effect of an actual shower. That will depend on your lens and on the lighting conditions. Too fast a speed will freeze the separate drops in the air in an unusual manner. Too slow a speed will register the drops as streaks--which may, on occasion, be the effect that is wanted.

If your model has a glamorous raincoat and matching hat, these an be brought into play. Study some of the advertisements for mackintoshes--advertisers have learnt that an attractive girl can make a glamorous picture even in wet weather garb.

An umbrella, too, can make an interesting picture, particularly if it is ornamental in itself. Let your model peer up at the sky from under its edge or struggle to open it in a high wind.

Dull Days

When it's dull you can get some of your best shots with colour. The contrast range of colour film is small, and excellent results can be obtained on days too dull to give any sparkle on black-and-white film.

Some dull days will yield a delightful misty atmosphere in the early morning, which can give you something new by way of background. A girl with an ethereal type of beauty seems to be made for just this kind of shot.

Dull days, however, can be mainly used for taking the "outdoor girl" type of picture--pictures that suggest the bracing effect of keen air or the tranquility of the countryside. Appropriate but attractive clothes are all-important in these shots. Beware, however, of the type of sports clothes that are too eye-catching in themselves and fight with your model for attention.

Gay action shines through on dull days.
Photo James Macgregor.

Bold costume overcomes the dull lighting. Photo Philip Gotlop.

Wind and Snow

When it's windy you naturally take advantage of the wind for a few exposures of hair flying, skirts billowing, towels blowing straight out, and things of this sort. But the opportunities are limited on the beach and you'll find that it takes a high wind to do these things--too high for comfort during the rest of the session.

You need not stick to the beach for windy weather pictures. Here again the "outdoor girl" comes into her own. This is an occasion for poses that suggest movement and activity--rock climbing, crossing a stile, gardening and so on. Make sure the clothes are suited to this type of shot--anything madly eccentric will create the wrong effect.

When it's snowing go indoors. But afterwards, if the sun comes out, you can get sparkling shots of your model snow-balling.

Time of Day

This, like the ideal conditions for beach photography, is rather an academic point--you have to take pictures when you can. Where possible, the best time for the average pictures is when the sun is high but not too high--around eleven in the morning or after two. The early morning or evening isn't too good, for the light, even strong sunlight, is trickly and extremely contrasty. Against-the-light pictures in such conditions become silhouettes even with the most careful treatment.

These remarks, apply, of course, to strong sunshine in the British Isles. Other conditions may prevail in other latitudes.

Soft daylight is ideal for delicate effects.
Photo Peter Brasch.

Noon sun is brightest; its shadows shortest.
Photo Andre de Dienes.

Low evening sun brings romantic side shadows.
Photo Andre de Dienes.

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