observing & using the available light, and maybe adding a little bit of flash (model – Alex)
When working with available light or flash or video light or any kind of additional light, the most important aspect of the light is the direction of the light. We need to take a moment and observe the light. Where do the light sources come from? What is the quality of the light?
This motif of looking at the available light has been a recurring theme here with various articles on the topic. Using this simple portrait of Alex, our model with a recent individual workshop, let’s look at a sequence of photos showing some of the thought process ..
Working under part of the Highline in Manhattan, we “forced” the available light to come from two directions.
Facing Alex, to my left (and slightly behind me), I had the main source of available light. This was the brightest part of the sky,which was slightly overcast. This now acts like a massive softbox that we might have in a studio scenario.
To my right (and slightly behind me), there was another large light source – also the sky – but less bright in comparison.
Now, looking closely at Alex’s face, you can see the way the light is distributed. One side of her face is more brightly lit than the other. For this photo, I posed Alex so that she was facing towards the brightest light source (the open sky to my left). I wanted to get the light positioned on her as short lighting, although the light here is quite even and not that dramatic. (With “short lighting”, the side of her face turned away from the camera is better lit than the part of her face turned towards the camera.)
You can definitely see how the interplay of the two light sources there.
The light looks good, and the background is a complementary warm color. To give some separation from the background, we decided to add a bit of flash as a kind of “hair light”. Since we already had great light on Alex, we could use the flash and softbox to give that bit of rim lighting there.
I asked that the softbox be feathered away from me so that just the edge of light from the softbox spilled on Alex’s beret and shoulders.
Here we used a Quantum flash in a Photoflex softbox, with the power turned all the way down to 1/32 power.
Camera settings: 1/100 @ f3.5 @ 800 ISO
equipment used during this photo session:
- flash photography tip: find your background, then your settings
- off-camera flash – adding dimension with back-lighting (model: Lea)
- observing and using the available light (model – Anelisa)
- direction of light & choice of background
- “using the available light” is not random
- exposure metering & observing the available light (model: Aleona)
- flash photography tip: find your background, then your settings (model: Alex)
- flash photography essentials
- off camera flash articles
- balancing flash with ambient light – where do we even start?
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