Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Using Your Speed Light Flash

I did a workshop today with Studio Time Photography to help me get to grips with my Nikon Speedlight.

On Sunday, I took some pictures at a monthly salsa event for which I am the 'official' photographer. I kept the flash on the camera in TTL mode, and tried to bounce the light from walls, ceilings and pillars. I also used my ABBC All Black Eye Shield.

In this shot the subjects are back-lit, so I aimed the flash at them, tilted towards the ceiling, but shielded them from any direct light. I was very pleased with the lighting in this because there is no obvious use of flash. I've boosted the contrast to make the contrasting colours pop, but no other adjustments were necessary.

These dancers were side-lit (from the right) and I managed to successfully bounce the flash off a pillar behind my left shoulder to fill in the shadows. This is a shot I would have previously missed, but since I attached a 'quick recycling battery pack' to my flashgun, I was able to use my camera in continuous shooting mode to capture key elements of this high energy dance routine.

In this shot the subjects were front-lit by large patio doors behind me, and I added some fill light by bouncing the flash from my left. The use of flash is obvious and there is a dramatic fall off of light in the background. These are things I need to work on.

What have I learned?
On Sunday, I did see an overall improvement in the softness and distribution of the light, but was not able to get consistent results.
Today's workshop has helped me to better understand TTL mode (I'm not going to worry about the other modes for the moment) and see how to get 'studio quality' images using just one Speedlight. I just need to keep things simple!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ingrid,
    awesome photos. And Salsa as a topic is quite charming.

    > TTL mode, and tried to bounce
    > the light from walls, ceilings
    > and pillars

    In case you are shooting with Canon or Nikon, try to keep the flash pointing directly to your subject while being in Manual mode or Aperture priority mode - not P or anything. The flash will fill in the shades just beautifully.

    > how to get 'studio quality' images
    > using just one Speedlight.

    I suggest you use the flash behind a big shoot through umbrella and place your subject as close to that umbrella as possible.

    But from experience I can tell that it's practically impossible to reach "studio quality" with just one flash. Artistic stuff, yes, but technically good lighting, something you could sell to microstock, no.

    I'm running a blog on portrait photography with speedlights and over there I try to keep the posted lighting setups as simple as possible. If you like, please have a look.

    I wish you good light!
    -- Michael