Natural light is always the best choice when using your camera outdoors. Camera flash is always my last resort for eliminating harsh shadows, but sometimes it's the only available solution. Had this Queen been modeling for me, I'd have used a reflector board and bounced some of the bright sunlight outside her carriage into the scene to lighten the dark shadows, naturally.
This shot was one I had been trying to capture at the Coronation Parade in Naha Okinawa, Japan for the past two years and I had to do it in a split second. So my camera flash was required. Some important adjustments need to be made on your camera before making a shot like this. Number one: Remove your lens hood, so it doesn't block the flash and cause more shadows. Number two: Set the flash to Red Eye Reduction; it would make the Queen look like a demon if her eyes turned red. To get this close, I carried a small 2 step ladder and got the OK of the people carrying the Queen to move up close enough for the flash to be effective (A built-in camera flash isn't worth using at over 10 feet). Then, I simply waited for the Queen to turn her eyes away from me (Queens are pretty good at looking away from a pauper on a ladder) and snapped the shot. I'd have preferred to catch a bit more of the corner of her left eye but, security came along and chased me off the street. Maybe you'll meet a more cooperative Queen in your travels or even have one somewhere around your house. Try some of the techniques I mentioned here and you can capture a classic shot. Until next time, Happy Shooting!
A wildlife photographer living in Okinawa, Japan, Mike has been featured in Matador Abroad and is published in Apogee Photo Magazine, Boots N all, The Nihon Sun and Photo Guide Japan. He has recently joined the ranks of travel writers, capturing Nature, Festivals, Castles and Cultural shots of the Ryukyu Islands to share with the world.