Any situation - Infinite Shot Possibilities

Enough of The Shirt. A few more of Rebecca. I mentioned in a previous post discussing using hard light and speedlignts that I love using them to simulate the sun. In that post as well as a few others recently I mentioned that there are almost infinite image making opportunities in just about any situation and any given lighting scenario.

If you don't remember the first shot from the hard light post it was something like this…

Obviously it's the exact same scene with the exact same background, exact same subject, etc. etc. What's not so obvious is that the lighting tools used for both shots are also exactly the same used pretty much in the same way. One of those light sources is from the same exact direction. The other one is coming from the opposite direction.

I will walk you through it quickly. In the shot at the top of the post there are effectively three light sources…

  • The first and what could be considered the key light are a bank of windows to camera right illuminating the subject from about 90 degrees but they are broad and soft.
  • The second source is the bounce back from the rest of the room that is also being lit from that same window. I have the subject about 10 feet in from those windows or about half way into the room so the ratio between that window and bounce back is much closer than if I moved the subject closer. I would say it's about a stop and a half different. Maybe two stops but hard to tell because both of them are very broad and very soft.
  • The third source is a speedlight positioned to camera left and behind the model about 180 degrees from the window and about 6 feet away. It's used in this context as a rim light or kicker to separate the subject from the background a bit and glam it up. Exposure wise it's about the same as the Window but it looks brighter because of the context and the angle it's striking the subject.

In this image all of the light sources are fairly close to the same values. Kinda flat but a completely different kind of flat than if you use one source like an umbrella indoors in a light colored room and it's far away from the subject - that kind of flat is a light bomb that just looks off and kinda "flashy" The huge difference between a window and an umbrella is the fact that it goes through the window and is cut off hard directionally. If you are in a room smaller than an auditorium and you use an umbrella and put it more than a couple of feet away from your subject it's totally out of control. Just my 2¢.

In any case this is an image with close lighting ratios. It can be useful depending on what you want. I actually use this scenario a lot with slightly different ratios to simulate another natural light circumstance that I love. Namely I will move the subject a bit closer to the window. so there is less overall bounce back fill light and crank the speedlight exposure through the roof - again simulating the sun blasting in from another window out of frame. Works wonders.

The second photo in the post used the exact same 3 light sources and the windows/bounce back obviously did not change positions. The speedlight was in the second case situated coming from the same direction of the window and carefully aimed at the subject as well as the background to give a reasonably attractive pattern of light. I then forked with the exposure to put the window at about 2 stops under and the bounce back at about 3. The speedlight was about the same exposure as the shot at the top of the post. Completely different look.

The point is not which particular image of this setup you like better, it's that using the same tools there are a million different ways to go even without changing your point of view - that multiplies it by another million or so. One last note… in situations like this. Specifically where the subject is not moving relative to where the lights are and the lights themselves are relatively constant manual mode for both camera and flash is absolutely the way to go. Much easier and 100% consistency from shot to shot. I will post more detail on why I think so and when I use TTL/Auto.

With manual I can move around and reframe at will to do stuff like this and I don't need to chimp every shot to make sure the auto-wonderfulness didn't do something not so wonderful and then fight with it some more with dialing in comp…

With auto and TTL flash there is a very very good chance that including that much more light area and that much less dark area in the frame would have rendered a completely different exposure than the one you had dialed in for the prior framing. I personally don't really want to chimp my way through shooting and stop to fight with the exposure comp and flash comp on every stinking shot. Just not how us old foggies did it in the olden times with film.

Image post processing ACR7 with one click - VSCO film 01 400H and exported to bite sized chunks.


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