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In the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist blog publisher David Hobby demonstrates how to use compact flash units in a variety of lighting scenarios. In this first installment, he covers the basics, starting with ambient window light and ending with a four-light shoot of a model. Along the way, the course covers a variety of fundamental lighting concepts as well as accessories such as ring lights and softboxes. The course includes diagrams and detailed explanations of the lighting setups.
All right, so I want to make this light a little edgier, and I want to make this light a little safer. All right, so drape like you are going to drape. I want to really try and aim this one to you in a cool way. So this light is kind of hardish key light. I can make this a gridded light, and we may do that in just a minute. In fact, I definitely want to do that. I want to come right up to the edge of where my frame is going to be.
All right, are you comfy? So get there. All right, the chair, spring grabbing you in the back of the chair? Ramona: Yeah. David: They do that to keep you awake. All right, so look towards me like you are going to look towards me, and I'm going to walk this light around. So I'm giving you a little more angle on your face. I like that; don't change that. Now, I'm hitting her face, but this light is also lighting her legs as they come down. I can take the light off of her legs and keep it on her face, as long as I don't move her from this position, by aiming it up and/or moving it over, because the position of the light that's hitting her face hasn't really changed, but how much spill is going down her legs is changing.
But let's go ahead and put that kind of light on her face there for a second. Don't move Ramona. Oh, I shoot myself on the foot, 25, am I close? All right, that's good. Let's makes some frames here. This is nice. But bring your chin. Yes, you can keep it up just a little bit. Good, good, good. Now, if I start to see something I really like, my flashes are set on I think one quarter and one eight power, so I can blow that whole battery in four shots.
I didn't really have to wait for those at all, and now they are charging up, but I've got four quick, quick, quick pictures. I don't need to wait two seconds every time I shoot. Pull the outside leg you've got in, maybe. You had one over the top earlier and that looked really cool. That's good, that's good, that's good. Okay, don't move. Oh, perfect, perfect, perfect. There you go. Now work on your expression, just bring a little more heat in. Good. Chin up just a tad.
Now a little more intense with your eyes, if you would. All right, deep breath, and just kind of pull all your body in just a little bit, like, don't be quite so stretched out, just wrap it around the chair a little more. There you go. That's good; that's really nice. Good, good, I like that. Now, you are almost like embracing it a little bit. That's really neat. Now the thing to remember is everything in this room is under control exactly the way we want it. The ambient exposure is taking care of all that background.
The flash right here in the umbrella is giving me all this shadow detail that I want, and then that little tiny key light is hitting her. I'm going to bring this down just a bit, get it closer to the camera. This is pretty close to being a ring light. Oh, that's good, that's good. All right, chin up just a little bit, so I can see you up under there. Good, good. Is Will making faces back there at you, because if he is, we can kick him out. I mean his phone already went off once, right> He has got two strikes.
Oh, I totally missed that. All right, deep breath for a second. And I'm going to bring this light in a little closer I think, and take it off of your legs just a tad. Now before I do, I want to think. I want to look at these pictures and see if she would benefit from a backlight coming across. I can do it either way. I like what the room lights are doing in the back. So this light is giving me an edgy key, but everything that a key doesn't hit, this light is sort of taking care of for me, and I like that ability to control every single facet of the picture: background, shadow area, and then dimension and depth of the key.
So what happens if I come in a little closer with this? Now remember, as I come in, right now I am on--I can't see--a quarter power minus one third. So I'm between a quarter and an eighth power. If I come in nice and tight right here, I'm going to have to bleed some power away from this flash. I just took a stop and a third away from it, just out of curiosity, and let's see what that gives me. Now, obviously it's going to come into the frame, so I can't shoot that wide shot anymore.
When you almost looked right into the light and just put that on you, hang on, don't move. I am right at the edge of this composition. So I like what this hard light is doing, and if this light wasn't here, it would be completely horrible; in fact, I want to take that light away for just a second. Okay, let's see. Is that still going to fire? Yeah. Big, big, big difference. Now, some people might look at this and really like--in fact, that's a completely different- looking picture. It looks so different from this fill light coming in, I don't mind that.
In fact, I like it more than I thought I would, and the point is, I can either not have it or have it. I'm completely controlling these shadows, and I can control these shadows in one-third F-stop increments by dialing this flash up or down. So I can go anymore from legibility to just pure start. I'm going to back this light up and shoot a couple of these darker kind of pictures without this light, the way we had it. Okay, so what I've got now is only this flash is going off, and I'm going to shoot a frame-- in fact, I'm going to shoot you, Dave, so you get a reference on this, okay? It's very nice. No problem.
So now all we've got is that hard light just kicking into Ramona, and that is a completely different look, and I don't mind that at all. I'm sliding over a little bit. I'm including my stand, and the reason I'm including that is mostly to keep my window straight. I can just crop that out later. I am using myself as a little view camera. Just back the way you were. I like that. Just a little bit aloof and bored with me, which I did a lot. All right, right here. Okay, so that's with this flash at a 128th power. It's not contributing to the frame at all; it's just setting off the other flash.
But I can take this flash and crank it up to, say, one half power, go off the ceiling, off those walls, and those walls and ceiling becomes my fill light. So without changing anything other than the power level on this flash, I can completely alter the look of that picture. And what you're going to see is a little more shadow detail. I can add in a little bounce fill, like this. I'm seeing lots more shadow detail now. So just by doing little things--we've got two hard lights, but we are really completely controlling the shape of this light in the room, because we are using the room itself as a light modifier.
So I'm going to go back to this light as a little bit on an-axis fill. So this is a lot like a ring light. Sorry about that, Dave. So let's look. So I'm going to pop it right up in there. That's good, that's good, that's good. Don't move. At the watch--I don't want the pictures to get too good, because I'm a married guy and you can get in trouble if the pictures looked just like--wait a minute, and I get beaten up, so that's cool.
Don't move. A little more of a sterner face-- not stern, but a little mysterious, a little like, I don't really know you at this point. Eyes right here. Let's take a look at this. Really clean glamorous light. Don't move. I'm going to come in tight and just half frame you with those windows. All right. Okay, take just a second for a break. Don't you move. I'm going to come in and shoot closer with a long range lens in just a moment.
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