And here is the comparison – with the black foamie thing, and without. Without flagging the flash, there is direct flash. Then the light is flat and specular and there is a distinct hard shadow that isn’t flattering.
(To see this comparison duo larger, right-click and open the image in a new tab. )
In both cases, the answer is the same – you improvise!
Not only that, but you need to be prepared to improvise.
The photograph above is from a recent Bat Mitzvah, showing the big group shot of the kids. If you’ve photographed Bar / Bat Mitzvahs before, you know this is coming up, and you have to be prepared for it.
You’re prepared for it by:
- having a ladder handy to stand on
- a wide enough lens and enough space to move back into
- enough light!
You can not just be passive and go … oh, oops! You need to be prepared and have done some homework before any event you photograph. (It seems such an obvious thing to even need stating like that!)
This particular venue has a really awkwardly shaped ceiling, and it has a bronze color in places. So it makes bounce flash photography a bit of a challenge, but I was able to get pretty good results by pushing the ISO higher. Using a camera like the Nikon D4 is an obvious boost here!
photographic composition, posing, light & lighting – when it all comes together
I just love this photograph of Anastasia Z, and want to share some of the through-process in how it came together.
To test the Canon EOS 6D camera (B&H) and the Canon 24-70mm f4.0L IS lens (B&H), I met up with Anastasia Z in New York. I scouted this area with my friend, Peter Salo, while we were waiting for Anastasia who was running a touch late. Just as well we scouted earlier on, because it was freezing outside.
I saw the way this building over the Highline in Manhattan was creating this jagged shape with strong lines. I also knew the staggered vertical lines would work well, silhouetted against the winter sky. When we met up with Anastasia, we discussed an approximate plan of where we’d shoot .. including somewhere inside eventually. But I wanted to try this one specific idea first – right here.
So, knowing more or less what I wanted, we walked towards this spot. On our way there, I did try out an idea, but it didn’t quite hang together, and I dropped it to get to this place where I knew the idea would work.
So here’s how this photograph came together with just three test images …
lingerie photo session: video light & studio flash – model: Olena
With my new studio space pretty much ready, I’ve been itching to actually use the studio with a photo session there. Olena is a model that I’ve worked with once before during an individual photography workshop in New York, and I was really impressed with her, but we never quite got the opportunity to do further photo sessions. So this was a good opportunity to shoot in my new studio, and re-acquaint with a wonderful model. (Here is Olena’s model mayhem portfolio.)
We shot several outfits, using different lighting setups. This one is interesting because of the simplicity of the setup – using a 1×4′ softbox to control the light, and a Lowel ID-Light (B&H) as a back-light to give that warm glow to her hair. It really helped enhance the intimate feel of the sequence of photographs.
Here is the pull-back shot that will show how the lights were placed.
Quite often, a single speedlight just isn’t enough. You need more!
You might need a smaller aperture than the single speedlight would provide (even at full power), or you might be battling very bright ambient light. High-Speed Flash Sync doesn’t help you in that case. Then you need to add another speedlight.
I’ve used this setup for some of the photography workshops that I’ve presented, where I need to simultaneously have Canon and Nikon speedlights. I have also at times mounted both PocketWizard and RadioPopper triggers. This bracket allows me the flexibility to choose my setup.
While these are all ingenious solutions to the problem, they just don’t have enough space around for the base of the radio trigger, whether the RadioPopper or PocketWizard. Others that I’ve seen that do allow for this, just don’t seem as sturdily built.
The RPS Light Bar is quite sturdy, as you might see in this detail image of the hot-shoe mount:
wedding photography – lighting large groups of people / formal portraits
Relating to the article positioning your flash for the wedding formals, where the family portraits and groups where photographed with a single umbrella and two speedlights, the question then inevitably comes up – what do you do when you need to photograph a large group of people.
The obvious answer is – you need a lot more juice! You either need to add more flashguns, or use a more powerful unit.
“We want it to look Fashion-y and Retro. And a little glamorous.” “But I don’t want it to be like a bridal hairdo!” No wonder the hair-dresser was confused by these vague instructions from myself and the model, Carla. The hair-dresser really looked like she was under pressure, wondering if she’d be able to come up with something fabulous enough to be all of that. Fashion-y and Retro and Glamorous.
Carla is a friend (and previous bride), and we’ve been trying to get it together for a photo session for a few years now. But life, work and conflicting schedules kept interfering. But this weekend it all came together – even down to the hair styling which looks fabulous.
The look we wanted with this boudoir photo session, was that the images should have a retro feel to then. With that in mind, we had her hair styled in a complementary way, even if we didn’t have a clear description of that. The post-processing of the photos were also done with that in mind, consistent with the theme.
I’d like to show two of the final images from this photo session, along with the lighting setup.
A comment posted to the article, directional light from your on-camera flash, asked a lot of questions about bounce flash photography. While most of these have been answered over time in various articles, it might be a good thing to pull it all together in directly answering those questions here.
An uncomplicated portrait of Anelisa that shows the specific elements that I work toward with bounce flash:
- catchlights in the eyes
- directional light which can be observed here as that gradient of light across her cheek
- no hard shadows from direct flash
I most often do this by bouncing my flash behind me, or towards the side.