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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.
In the last movie, you saw me light a portrait, by turning the ceiling into a light source simply by bouncing my flash off of it. The thing about most flashes these days is they not only tilt, they also swivel. That means I can bounce in a lot of different directions. Michael has generously agreed to hang around and let us use him as a guinea pig some more. So we're going to try an alternative version of the picture that we took in the last movie. Because then we've gotta a few other things working for us here. There are windows all the way around. There are some windows just to his left here, which are a great light source.
You can't do better than diffuse window lighting. The problem is when I shoot him. So we, so we opened up the shades. The problem is when I shoot him this way, I'm doing mostly the same shot I did before except one of us has moved in the meantime. When I shoot him this way, I get this really strong light on his left side. So you can argue that at this point, that's my key light. This is really illuminating him. What I need to do now is fill. Now, I can try just using my flash directly and hope that ETTL is going to figure out that it needs to just add some fill.
And when it does that, it actually does a pretty good job. It's filled in the shadow, but still it's that harsh light directly from the front, I'm just not crazy about it. I've got a white board on the wall right here. It's basically a big bounce card. It's a giant reflector. It's the kind of thing you wish was in every room you were ever shooting in. So, I'm going to try and bounce some light off of that, and on to him, and see what happens. I'm just going to tilt my, say I am, I'm going to just tilt my flash over there. And I'm set at no flash exposure compensation, because I think that this is enough of a bounce that it's going to need a lot of light to really get a good kick.
And this is what I get. Notice the difference. It has filled in the right side of his face, but it's done it much more evenly than the flash did pointing directly at him. I think maybe I can get a tiny bit more, Michael, could you move back just a little bit, and again. I'm just thinking of this like a billiard shot. I, I think a lot of the light was going behind him so by moving him back a little bit, and then again, he's continuing to very generously do all the work of a good model without me saying anything. So there we go. I've got, I've just created this nice fill by again, changing the size of my light source and moving it.
It's no longer the small, pointy source right in front of him. It's now off to the side, and it's very large. I'm thinking still in terms of key and fill. The window light is my key-light. The flash bounced off the wall is my fill-light. It occurs to me that I might be having a white balance problem here. I've got shady sunlight coming in, and flash light. That could be a bad mix. I'm shooting raw. So I'm going to have very good control over my, white balance later. It also occurs to me that I could basically gel that whiteboard by getting markers, and scribbling color across all of it.
But I'm, I'm not going to bother with that. So let's just do a couple more here. I'm going to do what I did last time, and try and dim the background down some by lowering my ambient exposure. I think that's a little too much. I'm going to crank the, I'm now going to add some positive exposure compensation. Which is not something you see me do very often. To try to get a little more light on him, whoa that's way too much. There's a reason you don't see me doing that very often, that maybe a bad call. Yeah, I'm now overpowering the daylight, so I'm going to, I'm going to stick with where I was and just continue to play with the ambient exposure until I get a balance that I like.
And again I am relying on the LCD screen on my camera, which may or may not be accurate. So I'm just bracketing my exposures, my flash exposures, and, my camera exposure. And I think we're zero-inning on it here. This looks good. What I can do here by playing with the flash exposure is also play with my mix of sunlight to flash light. And get some options there for how I want to balance the lighting. So I'm liking where this is going. I'll do one or two more with these settings. Chin down a tiny bit thank you and finally one last look around the frame to see if I've missed anything.
If I know to look for it I can see my reflection in the TV monitor back there. I'm not going to worry about that I can always take it out if I need to. The chairs look good and Michael looks good let's do one more and I think we're there. So, still doing all of the same work thinking about key and fill, thinking about flash and ambient and thinking about other things I can use in the room to bounce light off of. You may not always have a wall with a whiteboard on it but that doesn't mean you can't carry a big reflector or find a piece of foam core.
Just some way of modifying the light to create a larger difuse light source. If you don't have a ceiling with you because you're shooting outside Maybe you can have someone hold up a big piece of what paper or something and bounce off of that. Don't forget that your flash can move around that you can bounce light in a lots of different directions and use that for fill key or sometimes even both.
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