I schedule my outdoor shoots during golden hour which varies throughout the year according to sunrise and sunset times. Golden hour is approximately an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. I met Inessa at Waveny Park in mid-September at 5:30pm for the session start time and we shot for about an hour until the we reached the best light for backlighting which was about 30 minutes before sunset.
Shooting in natural light is always a challenge because it's constantly changing so you need to also remember to set your camera and pose your subject for these settings. I love using back light right before a sunset to highlight my subject's hair and silhouette to create a stunning photograph.
Always try to get your settings right in camera so you have less processing to do in post. I process all of my RAW files in Adobe Lightroom CC (2015) to give them that extra pop that makes my images stand out. I first correct the white balance by using a gray card during the shoot and then bump up the temperature to give the photos a golden glow. I make my way down the slider in Lightroom to make adjustments to balance the histogram, fill shadows, increase the contrast and blacks, and move onto local adjustments to remove any distractions and to soften the skin. Inessa's photos hardly needed any retouching so I didn't need to take them into Photoshop to work on the skin or any other areas. I finish my images by sharpening and enhancing the eyes. I sometimes add a vignette make it more dramatic and to bring the viewer's eyes onto the subject.
The hardest part for me has always been the cull and selection stage to choose the best shots from the session. I learn from what my clients like and get better and better every time I hear their feedback. My husband also helps me whenever I need another opinion and he constantly hears me asking questions like, "What do you think, black and white or color?" I go through my RAW files on camera and delete the obvious misses before uploading the shots to my hard drives. Then after creating backups, I import them to my Lightroom library following the naming convention I created to keep my files organized.
Once in Lightroom, I will go through the gallery and star the best shots. I will go through it 2-3 more times until I really narrowed down to the best of the best before I start processing the files. I will process one shot and then sync the settings with the rest of the shots that were taken in a similar setting and location to save some time. Then, I will make local adjustments on every image until I'm happy with the final product. After finishing edits on this session, I couldn't have asked for a better subject and setting to capture these outdoor maternity portraits for Inessa to cherish this special time in her life.