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Photo Assignment: Fill Flash Portraits is an interactive video course, where participants learn how to augment outdoor lighting with a typical flash. Derrick Story shows how to use professional techniques to take great shots in a variety of situations, including full sun, partial shade, or even with odd cross-shadows. Derrick teaches how to create clean, natural-looking portraits even when the sun is at the worst possible angle. At the end of the course, Derrick describes how to upload photos to Flickr for review and comment.
Fill Flash Portrait Photo Assignment Flickr Discussion Group
I'll be honest with you. Fill-flash isn't my favorite lighting technique, but there are times when you need to use it. For example, a wedding reception, you can't stop and have everyone pose. You need to shoot in the light that's available and that's what this helps us with. So we have Edie here today to help us out, and what I am going to do is I am going to take some shots of her right now without fill-flash and then we are going to try to improve the scene using fill-flash. All right, Edie. Let's just take a shot of you right here.
Okay. Good. Good. That looks good. Excellent. Just one more there. Now, as I am looking at these shots here, they are pretty much what I expected. They are very contrasty. They have some very hot areas and some very dark areas. So the way I am going to counteract that is with the flash itself. The flash will bring in some light from the front and it will even out those tones. Now, you may be interested about this bracket right here. This is a very, very helpful tool. What it does is it gets the flash up off the camera. It's helpful in two ways.
First way, when you're shooting indoors, it eliminates red eye. But the other way, and more important for this shoot, is I can put the flash right over the lens, and this is better for portrait shooting. Now I'll use a dedicated flash cord to communicate between the camera and the flash so I have all of my automated functions. I am going to turn on the flash right here. I am going to shoot some more shots, same lighting, but see if we can improve those shots just a little bit more. All right Edie. Here we go.
Well, as I am looking at these, the flash definitely did its job. In fact, it did it too well. It's too bright. It looks fake. What I would like to do is dial it back a little bit, and I can do that using something called flash exposure compensation. It's a setting right here on my camera, and with her darker skin, I think I am going to set it to -1.5. That means the flash is going to emit 1.5 stops of less light than it normally would. That should give us a very natural look.
I am going to give it a try and see how that works. Well, the flash is doing its job and is not overdoing its job. These look fairly natural and pretty good considering the lighting that we are in right now. This is very contrasty lighting. If you have the opportunity to move to open shade, do it because everything gets easier in open shade. Let's go over there. I found a spot right about there.
Let's give it a try. We'll use our fill-flash there and I bet you, we get results that we like a little bit better. Well, here we are in the beautiful open shade and I have done a little test shooting, and I actually have some settings to give you. I don't want the flash to be too strong. Again, we want that natural look, so I set the flash exposure compensation to -1.5 so that's 1.5 stops less light that's going to be coming out of the flash. Because of her darker skin tones, I set the regular exposure compensation, and that's for the ambient light here, to minus one half.
Now, we have one another thing to deal with, and that is in the shade, tones are a little cooler, which isn't always very pleasing for people shots. So, I've set the White balance to Cloudy. That should warm-up the shot a little bit. I think with these three settings, we are going to come away with a very nice shot. I am going to give it a try right now. Okay, Edie. Let's see here. Good and just one more shot there Edie. Thank you.
Well, these look exactly as I hoped. So, we have a good balance of settings here. So remember, if you have to shoot in harsh light, use the fill-flash, dial it back just a little bit, so it's more natural. If you can shoot in open shade, do that, but try using the White balance at Cloudy. That will warm-up the tones a little bit. Either way, I think you are prepared for just about any shoot. I wish you the best of luck when you take the flash out in the field.
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