Flash

Ali & Matt | Sun-soaked Wedding

No one could have asked for better weather for their wedding weekend. Ali & Matt soaked it all in and we had a wonderful time capturing every moment.

A&M-1 A&M-2 A&M-3 A&M-4 A&M-5 A&M-7A&M-6 A&M-8 A&M-9 A&M-11 A&M-10 A&M-12 A&M-13 A&M-14

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Kids are Colourful

So why not use a splash of colour to enhance their portraits! In the images below, I used Honl Photo’s Speed Strap and coloured gels on a Nikon SB910 (with the wide angle diffuser pulled out) to add a pop of colour to the background. I chose colours that would accent their personalities, clothing and eye colour. The lighting setup was a simple 2 light arrangement. The main light was another SB910 in a 26″ Westcott Octagonal Rapid Box (with diffuser panel) to camera left and at a 45 degree angle. Both lights were triggered by a camera mounted SU800 and the RadioPopper PX system (no line of sight required).

The key with kids is to try and keep it fun. Let them make some funny faces in return for some genuine smiles. It might not always work, but when it does, the results can be great.

Eli

Ben

Bounce Beware

Just a quick tip today (maybe if I did more of these I would post more regularly)…

If you are using an external flash and bouncing that flash off a ceiling, wall, etc. for diffusion (which you should be), be aware of the colour of the surface you are bouncing off of, as the light from the flash will take on that colour in your photo.

Cupcake with Flash bounced off white ceiling

Cupcake with Flash bounced off white ceiling

Cupcake with Flash bounced off Beige/Yellow wall

Cupcake with Flash bounced off Beige/Yellow wall

Reflecting on Reflectors

A really easy and inexpensive way to get nice, natural looking Portrait or Macro shots is to use a reflector to bounce or diffuse light. Whether the light is natural (sun, or even sun diffused by clouds) or artificial (flashes, strobes, etc.) a reflector can add diffusion or dimension to your photo. The most common type of reflector is the 5-in-1 reflector that has White/Gold/Black/Silver/Translucent sides. They come in many sizes, but the most common are usually in the 40″-42″ inch range. These fold up nice and small for portability, usually about 1/4 the size of the fully expanded reflector. Now, why would you need a reflector with 5 different colours, you ask? (you did ask, right? Please tell me I’m not hearing the voices again!) Well, here is a quick breakdown for you:

  • White: To reflect your light source on to your subject with the most natural results. The white surface will take on some the colour of your source, which helps it to blend in. This is most commonly used when you want to fill in the opposite side of your subject. Use the white to bounce light and fill in unwanted shadows.
  • Gold: The gold side of the reflector helps add a punch of warmth to your subject. This can come in handy when used on a bright, sunny midday portrait, because the colour temperature tends to have a blue tint to it, so the gold works to add warmth.
  • Black: Really? Black? Yup. Black helps to draw light away from your subject to help enhance shadows. It can also be used to block or direct light from a flash or strobe that you don’t want to spill everywhere. This is often referred to as a Gobo.
  • Silver: The Silver side is like the Gold side, only it’s, ummmm… Silver. What I’m trying to say is that the Silver side produces a punch of brightness, like the Gold side, but instead of giving you warmth, it provides a cooler, albeit, harsher reflection on to your subject.
  • Translucent: The translucent center of a 5-in-1 reflector comes in really handy if you need to diffuse light. A good example of this would be when taking Macro pictures in the middle of the day. Simply position the reflector between your light source (in this case, the sun) and your subject, and Voila! Diffused sunlight. Now, doing this would require one or more of the following: Extreme dexterity; an assistant to hold the reflector while you take the picture; a reflector stand to hold the reflector in place (what I used in the example below); or a tripod and a remote release for your camera so you can set everything up and hold the reflector yourself. Actually, a tripod should be used in all of these scenarios. An absolute necessity with macro photos.

Here is an example of what the translucent center of a 5-in-1 reflector can do:

Direct Sunlight - No Reflector/Diffusion - Notice the harsh shadows and blue-ish tint?

Now with the diffusion panel of the reflector placed above the flowers to diffuse the sunlight. Shadows be gone!

Quite a difference, no? Being able to shape and diffuse light is paramount in photography. Reflectors were created for just that reason. So the next time mother nature hands you weather lemons (what?), say thank you (it’s the polite thing to do), then grab your reflector and shape the light.

No Fear Flash

Uh oh! I think I made it angry.

"scary light-maker-thingy"

Many new (not to mention existing) DSLR owners seem to be afraid of flash for some strange reason (other than the cost). Regardless of why, people often overlook the importance, and sometimes, necessity, of a good flash. An external one, that is. Not the built-in, harsh, direct, nastiness that I un-affectionately refer to as “the ugly maker.” Even more overlook the importance of learning how to use their flash properly, and to its full potential. That is why some of my favorite classes to teach are the School of Imaging‘s Flash Series workshops. To help ease your worried mind if you have been toying with the idea of adding a flash to your photographic arsenal, below is the number one reason not to fear the flash…

The great thing about modern flash systems is that they all make use of TTL Metering… Wait! Where are you going? Let me explain… TTL Metering makes these scary light-maker-thingys a heck of a lot easier to use. TTL stands for “Through The Lens” Metering, which, when boiled down to its essentials, means that when you take a picture, the flash emits a pre-flash that bounces off your subject and gets read back, you guessed it, through the lens, into the camera. Still with me? Good. The camera then tells the flash how much power to put out in order to get the right exposure. It’s like magic. Seriously. I’m still mystified by it. This pre-flash happens so fast that it often isn’t even noticeable and more often than not, gives you the proper exposure. You may have to override the flash in certain situations, but those scenarios are for future posts, or better yet, come take a Flash Workshop at the School of Imaging. (<- shameless self-promotion to keep me employed)

The moral of this post? Gone are the days of having to earn multiple degrees in Mathematics, Geophysics, Biophysics, Optics and Patience, in order to use a flash (although that last one could still come in handy.) Just throw it on your camera, set it to TTL, and shoot away. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how easy it is.

Note: Most manufacturers name their TTL systems slightly different from one another (Pentax:P-TTL | Canon E-TTL | Nikon iTTL, etc.), likely just to make it sound like they have something to offer that the others don’t or simply to give brand-loyal consumers something to argue about (“Yeah, well, my Nikon has iTTL! You know what the i stands for? Intelligent!). Don’t be confused by this. They all do roughly the same thing. Magic.