fill-flash technique

direct off-camera flash photography – fill-light

I really like using a medium-sized softbox when photographing portraits. A softbox allows me to get soft, directional light pretty much anywhere. The most recent example I showed here, was Lucia and Alvin’s wedding in Central Park, New York. I do make it easier for myself  when using off-camera flash for photo sessions on location - I pick my battles. I don’t try to make everything work. With a photo session where I can control the light and background and setting for my subjects, I can make it easier for myself by not choosing tough lighting scenarios.

With Amy and Clark’s photo session, I brought along my usual set of gear … but left the Lastolite softbox behind. I brought the Lastolite bracket along, and the radio transmitters.  Everything but the actual diffusion box to fit over the speedlight. With that, I had to slightly change how I usually work to still get great results that look like my usual style.

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best fill flash settings

February 5, 2011

best fill light flash settings

Yup, another post intended as one of the entries in the question & answer series, but somehow expanded into a post which should stand on its own. The question that popped up in my webstats was: ‘best fill light flash settings’

First, we need to understand that there is a whole range of ratios in which we can balance available light with flash.

A whole range in how we mix flash and available light. Anywhere from:
- correct ambient exposure with just a touch of fill-flash,
all the way to where we:
- under-expose the ambient light, and use flash to give us the correct exposure.

There are of course numerous possibilities inbetween those two scenarios. None of which are particularly more ‘correct’ than the other ways we match flash and available light. For simplicity of explanation though, it is easier to describe the two ‘extremes’, and hopefully this will make it easy for us to figure out the inbetweenie scenarios … where we mix some flash with the available light, and still get good lighting and great exposure.

Now, when we talk about ‘fill-flash’, we’re usually describing the scenario where our ambient exposure is correct, and we’re just lifting the shadows with a mere hint of fill-flash.

So for anyone who wants to know the best fill-flash settings, you have to think in terms of your ambient exposure first and foremost. That is your starting point – correct exposure for the available light. Then you can add flash to it. But just a touch of fill-flash. In other words, “best fill flash settings”, would revolve around your camera settings for correct (or close to correct), ambient exposure.  And then adding a touch of flash to even out the shadow areas or lift the contrast.

In this photo, my exposure for the couple was correct. I didn’t allow the brighter street scene or background to influence my camera settings. I based my exposure on the couple. The next step was adding fill-flash with my on-camera speedlight

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