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Harsh, unflattering lighting can ruin a photo—and with flash, it's easy to get harsh, unflattering lighting. But flash is a necessary part of a photographer's toolset—after all, the world doesn't always provide you with the best natural light.
Fortunately, it isn't difficult to get great results from flash, and in this course, photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long details the concepts and techniques behind effective lighting with flash. Ben starts with fundamentals that build on exposure principles taught in other installments of Foundations of Photography—simple techniques that improve the results from a camera's built-in flash. He then focuses on fill flash techniques and on using flash as a key light. The course also explores topics ranging from bouncing and syncing flash to shooting with one or more off-camera flash units.
What we're setting up here with these three flashes, is a three-point lighting system. You may have stumbled into this if you've done any reading on lighting. Either for video or still photography. So we've got three lights. The key light, which we've already set. That's giving a whole bunch of light on to our subject. And now we want to set our fill light which is going to try and fill in some of the shadows that are there simply because of our ambient lighting but that are also there because our key light is casting shadows on the left side of Steven's face. So I have another flash set up here also on a stand.
I put a soft box on it because a fill light does need to fill a large area, we want it to really wrap around so I want a fairly large light source. This is a really nice little soft box, it goes completely flat so you can pack it very easily and it just opens up, fits over the front of the flash, and Velcros on, this'll fit just about any flash, I think this was $15, or something, you can find them on Amazon very easily. So now I need to figure out where to put it and how bright it needs to be. I've already figured out where to put it. It needs to go right here.
That wasn't that hard to figure out, it's about 45 degrees the other direction. If you just think about where the shadows are on him, it's not that hard to figure out what needs to be filled, but how do I get this to fire? I've got a radio trigger firing my key light over, but as you can see, I don't have one over here. I don't really need one. Most flashes can be put into a mode where they can be triggered simply when they see a strobe. So that light, when it flashes, is actually going to trigger this one. This is an all manual flash, this is one of those young $75 flashes that I showed earlier.
And it's great, it doesn't have any TTL, it's all manual, but it doesn't cost very much. It puts out a lot of power, and it can be triggered optically. So with a single radio transmitter, I'm now firing both flashes. The radio transmitter fires that one. The optical flash of that one fires this one. So that's ready to go. A couple of other things that I want to think about as I'm setting up my flash is there's some custom controls that I might want to configure. I had this one set to beep when it recycles, which I really like. My Canon flash over there can't do that, which always frustrates me a little bit.
The Canon flash also by default turns itself off after awhile. There's a custom function that allows you to disable that. When you're getting started with flash, and your spending a lot of time setting stuff up. It's a good idea to turn that feature off. It means you gotta be careful or you'll drain your batteries. But it also means that just when you're ready to take your test shot, the flash will actually fire. So I've got those set up the way that I like them I could be working with two of these flashes, there's no reason that I had to use the Canon flash I'm not using any automatic features over there, so right now we're looking at $150 worth of of flash material.
To get a two flash setup. So with this set here last time I used the flash it was set for one 30 second power. I'm just going to leave it there and see what that looks like. But I am going to think about Zoom. I'm shooting Steven full body so I want the flash to cover a wide area. The soft box is going to give me a little bit of spread, but just to be sure, I'm going to zoom the flash out. Actually it's already zoomed out. It's zoomed out to 28 millimeters. That's as wide as it'll go. So that's good. If it was in at 105 I would definitely want to pull that out. Now the problem is I lost my camera. There we go. so, I'm just going to again. We're not ready to take the real shot yet. So I'm not going to have Steven play.
Which is great. It's building suspense through this chapter. You're just waiting to see him play again. But instead I'm just going to fire these off. okay, wow. That's my fill is actually brighter than my key. Look at the right side of the frame, the left side of his face. That's way too hot. What I'm wanting is just to eliminate some shadows. The idea with these two lights is we want a ratio, we want one of them brighter than the other so that he's a little brighter on one side than the other side. It makes him look more three dimensional. Most of the time, Steven, you don't look that three dimensional. I hate to break it to you, but this is really going to change all of that.
So we're going to, we're going to fatten him up here by putting some shadows on him. So I'm going to turn this down. I'm going to get a couple of stops. So from a 32nd to a 64th is one stop, from a 64th to 128th is two stops. I chose two stops because I did. I can't really give you any reason other than, he was awfully bright, I need to go down a lot. So that's better. Look at the right side of his face. It is now brigher than the left side. That's a great expression, see there. I am picking up some stuff into the other end of the frame. I am not worried about that right now.
These are test shots. I will try to crop that later. One of the great things about working on this psyche. Is it's going to be easy to retouch stuff that I don't want. So, that's pretty good. I think I'm doing okay with my two flashes right now. I would like to mention one thing. Which is, you don't neccesarily have to buy two strobes to get this look. This simple setup of a key and a fill is a really powerful tool for doing portraitature. I could if I wanted. Try to do this with my pop-up flash. I'm not doing that right now for two reasons. I want my fill light a little bit more off axis, and also my radio transmitter is in the way of my pop-up flash.
If you have a system, a camera system where the camera can work as a commander for a remote strobe. You could still use the pop up flash, or if you had a sync chord going out to your key light, you could do it that way. In this case though, I am working with inexpensive flashes so it's very easy to get in to this system. So now, we've got two of the three lights of our three point lighting system. We're ready to add the third, the back light.
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