I'm currently on assignment in Africa - shooting for a major NGO and looking at agricultural projects in Mozambique, Rwanda and finally Zambia. We've just finished in Mozambique on a project concerned with the cultivation and subsequent processing of cassava - a tuber that forms the staple diet of the rural population in many regions of the continent. As always with this sort of trip the story develops as one goes along and the photo content generally ends up all being shot in a very short period of time once a subject is found and interviewed - and invariably this happens in the middle of the day beneath a bright and hot African sun and sky.
In this case our subject took us to his fields to show us his crop - harsh sunlight and very dark skin conspire to make getting good images a real problem. For those of you who know - small portable flashes are great when there's not much light - but put them out in the bright midday light and they struggle to compete with the big bright object in the sky. One of my stock solutions is to find a patch of shade and put the subject in that - in the case of the image above, beneath the shade of some palms. With the ambient light now under control I'm free to light the subject with whatever I choose, in whatever manner I choose - in this case with a handheld off camera Canon speedlight in a shoot through unbrella to the right of camera - my translator acting as a 'voice activated lightstand'.
The following couple of images were shot in the same way - forget about sunshine being good for image making, particularly when combined with African skin tones - of course there are instances when it can work but more often of parts faces are lost in deep dark shadow.