Thursday, January 17, 2013

Simple Flash Instruction

This is going to be a relatively simple post regarding using a flash unit for a portrait.

I will be using the flash pictured to the right; however, I will use it two different ways.

This particular post was somewhat inspired by a conversation I was having with other members of the Photo Club I started at my local church.

Most of the time we are working with ambient light (light that exists around us), because several of the group members do not own separate flash units. We do discuss how to use the pop-up flash (the one built into many cameras) more effectively, but having a flash unit does provide more versatility.

We were talking about ways to use the flash, and what other gear they may want to purchase, in order to get more variety from the way they use the flash. Some options are sync cords, infrared transmitters, or wireless transmitters. These items are not necessary to use a flash unit; however, they would provide the ability to use the flash without having to keep the flash on the camera.

Without getting into a post about the devices, I'm simply going to show a couple of photos and explain the difference.

The first image that I'm going to show is lit with two flashes; both fired wirelessly.

All of the images I show in this post were taken in my basement, which has light gray cinder blocks behind me. I was sitting approx. 12 feet away from that wall.

In this first shot I was using a flash from camera right and one on axis (coming directly from the position of the camera). You can see a slight shadow behind my head and shoulder (from the on axis flash) and the shadow to the right side of my nose (from the camera right flash).

Lighting it this way allowed me to keep the light primarily on the subject, and not much light was bouncing behind me.

This next shot is what it would look like, using the settings for the first shot, but without any flashes firing.

As you can see, the settings are letting in a little bit of ambient light; however, when the flashes fire, they are over powering that light, which ultimately eliminates it from the final image.

What I did next, was to leave the settings the same, but put one flash on the hot shoe of the camera, and set that flash to manual mode, so I could control the power output.

Also, I bounced the light off of the wall to camera left. I did have the camera in portrait orientation, which helped point the flash at that wall; however, as you can see from the intro photo, these flashes have a swivel head (***if you are going to invest in a flash, this is a MUST***) that would allow me to turn it toward the wall, even if I was in landscape orientation.

Also, I have the bounce card extended from the head of the flash. It would be like taping an index card to the back of the flash head, so the light would get reflected forward, as it fired toward the wall.
Gray blocks behind subject. Half white, half grayish drywall
to camera left. Also an unfinished wood door on that wall.
This way, I'm almost lighting the subject with two sources (like in the first shot).

I mention the colors of the wall, and door, because when the light hits something with color, it will pick up that color and throw it on your subject.

This next shot is with the flash on 1/2 power, with the same camera settings as the first portrait and the unlit shot.

I thought it was still a little too dark, so I bumped up the power to full for the last shot.

For me, this last image gives the feel of a shot that was lit by a window positioned camera left. It is a softer feel than the first image, with less distinguishable shadows. Also, by bouncing the light off of the large wall, you can see how it adds some light to the wall behind me.

A caution:
If you are looking to get a flash, but don't quite have the money for the higher model, you should really decide what you are planning to do with the flash. As you can see, in the last image, I had the flash at full power. If I had a lower model flash, I would have had to make other adjustments in my settings, in order to get the same exposure. If I didn't have a lens that allowed me to open up my aperture further, then I would have to compensate with ISO, which would mean I was compensating on image quality. FYI

I hope this helped someone.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this.

    And that little sketch is adorable.