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In the Shooting with Wireless Flash series, award-winning photographer Jim Sugar demonstrates his approach to using off-camera flash in a variety of lighting scenarios, sharing practical tips along the way.
In this installment, Jim shows how to shoot outdoors during twilight, what photographers refer to as the magic hour. He goes on location to create an exterior photo of a busy pizzeria, employing five wireless strobes strategically placed both inside the building and on its exterior.
His approach to lighting the scene involves balancing all of the scene’s light sources—the twilight from the sky, the interior light of the pizzeria, the existing lights on the outside of the building, and the output of his strobes—in such a way that the final photo doesn’t appear to have any special lighting at all. He demonstrates a variety of inexpensive lighting tools—clamps, gels, and other light modifiers—to accomplish this goal.
Also discussed is the importance of planning and setting up ahead of time to maximize shooting time when the light is waning. The course wraps up with tips on planning for gear, estimating the amount of time available to shoot, shooting in manual mode, and using a camera's histogram to judge exposure.
So now we're going to take two more strobes and we are going to attach them one to each corner of this awning. And my friend Josh is here, he has given me this chair. Thank you! And I have noticed that there are pipes on the inside of this wonderful awning. So now if I take this adjusting clamp and attach it to the pipe and then move the strobe just a little bit and rotate it and move it, I can light the front of the pizzaria and I am going to put one here and I am going to put one more over there.
And the other thing I have done is I have lowered-- these strobes have a diffuser built into them. Let me show you what that looks like. There is a diffuser here and I can just pull it out and put it in and that again will diffuse the light and make it slightly softer. Now I am lighting a relatively large area at the front of this building, so it doesn't have to be soft. And I lose a little bit of light with that. If it's not right in a second I will get rid of the diffuser and make this light about a half a stop to a stop stronger.
But for the time being we will just put this light on this adjusting clamp and we will use it to light the front. So we are going to have two lights on the front, we are going to have two lights inside, we are going to have a third light or actually a fifth light on the ground to light up this painting, and we are going to balance all of that with the ambient light. And as I am watching now the sun is about to set, which means the sky is going to get darker. As the sky goes darker the strobes are going to get brighter in relative comparison.
We are balancing all these elements together. So we've taken the strobe, we've put it on adjusting clamp, and we are going to attach it to the bracket on this awning one more time and let's see if we can do this. So there it goes. We've got it attached and now we are going to aim it down and it's going to be at a 45-degree angle, lighting up the front of the restaurant, the pizzaria.
So we've got a light here, we've got a light there, we've got the light into an umbrella inside, we've got a light over in the corner on the chef, Tony, firing into that that Gary Farm Diffuser and now if I've got them all set up properly, when I go click they are all going to fire simultaneously without a wire. Let's see if it all works.
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