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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.
The third light in our three point lighting system is going to be a backlight. Sometimes that's called a hair light or a rim light. So we've got our key, that's putting the main dose of light on Stephen. We've got a fill that's filling in the shadows. What we want is some light behind him to create some kind of highlight around his body so that he sets off from the background. And on a background like this, where we're against white, he stands out pretty well. But still we can add some highlighting around the edges of him. That'll really give him more depth a and dimension and that would really be critical if there was stuff in the background but even against a white background its going to matter.
I keep looking up in the sky here because I have already positioned. My backlight. I've taken this light stand here and it's up way high pointing down. I've got it up high like that mostly to keep it out of the shot. As I'm shooting I don't want to see a light stand up there. So I've gotta sneak a light in from somewhere so I've got it way up there. Now you may go, well great I don't have a light stand like that. And this is a very nice light stand. It's one of the great advantages of shooting in a nice studio. There are other options though. If you're just shooting in your house There all sorts of super clamps and things you can get that have normal amounts just like on the top of a, of a light stand that you can put a flash on.
But you can clamp this to the top of a door. Or onto some you know really nice antique molding that you could mess up really good. There all sorts of things that you can do with these. So the, there are options besides expensive stands for getting a light mounted up really high. The problem with this is the flash is turned off so I've gotta lower it and turn it back on and as for the positioning of this flash wow that thing weighs more then I thought it did as for the positioning of this flash we did a little bit of trial and error just like we did with the other flashes. And there are a few things to think about when you are positioning a back light.
You typically want it opposite your key light. At first, we had the back light on the same side as the key light. So we had key coming from here. With all this highlighting on the same side of his body. By moving it around here. We've got key coming from here. Fill filling in shadows and it's just nice outline along the edge of his body. so, that was a really critical decision. As for how high and how to tilt it we were simply looking at the highlights and deciding what looked best. The length of the highlight down his body whether it was simply staying on the edge of his body or wrapping around.
I didn't want any extra light on the front of him. So again it's just about positioning the light, taking a picture, looking at the results. But the things you're looking for In the positioning of all of these lights, are to look at the quality of, of the light in terms of the role that it's serving. So a key light, you want to look for the qualities of a good key light. Are you getting enough light on your subject? Is it outlining them in a good way that, that Makes them obviously the subject of the image. With a fill light, are you getting rid of shadows that you don't want? With a light like this, are you getting that rim lighting that you want? Are you getting the amount of it that you want? And are you controlling it so that it doesn't wrap around to the front on them.
So, I think we're pretty good there. I'm pretty sure I got that back where it was. So Steve, then I'm going to do one more test shot before you actually play for real. Because I don't want to tire you out. Yes. So somwhere in here. As far as communication with my back light. It's being triggers optically also. I just got it in a slave mode. So still I'm running this. Three flash lighting system with a single radio transmitter. So just to recap, I'm getting radio control from here to my key light. My key-light flash is causing my fill light and my back light to fire.
I could actually put the radio on any of these flashes. I put it on the key light because as you've seen to build this lighting system we've gotta go one light at a time. And it's best to start with the key. So here we go. This is the backlight and you can see, just look at the difference without the backlight and with it. Having that extra bit of highlighting on the far side of his body opposite from the key makes him look a little more three-dimensional and it does really make him stand out from the background and it just surrounds him with this nice highlight that brings more attention to him.
Again on a white background that's not quite so critical. It's, it's just very aesthetically pleasing here but if he were on a busier background, that would really cause him to stand out and make him more visible. So I'm feeling pretty good these lights. We are now ready to take the actual shot and for all the reasons that Stephen discussed in the first movie of this chapter. I want him to actually play. I want to him engage in the activity for real. So that he gets that things that I saw when I When he was performing in concert that made me want to take a picture of him in the first place. So, also I get to listen to it. Fantastic.
Stephen, thank you very much >> Oh, cheers, my pleasure. >> Here's, I really appreciate it, stephenkent.net Here are some of the final shots that I got. I think the lighting set up is working. It was working for however he was moving. And, you can't really fail on shots like this when you've got a model who's really in to it and, and he was really doing all the work here. Steven, you were really good about, about trying different things and striking different poses. When someone's taking your picture, that's an important thing to do. Always stay moving, and and stick a hollow log in your mouth and blow through it.
>> That really makes a big difference also apparently. Anyway, thanks again. So that's multiple flash systems with all manual flash. We've done it the hard way here by having to walk around each flash and position them. What it's gotten us though is very inexpensive flash units and a lot of control. If you would rather have a full TTL system where the camera is doing calculations and figuring out exactly how to fire each flash, you can do that, but you're going to spend a lot more money. One reason we didn't do that here is sometimes the communication is more complicated to get working.
You have to have a controller on the camera of, of some kind, you buy more expensive flash units, what's great about that is that you can control the ratioing all from your camera, or from one flash, so rather than me having to run around to each one and pull them down and Adjust exposure, and raise them back up and all of that. I can dial in a ratio of one flash to another. And that information gets transmitted all around. But again, when you're doing that, you're talking about flashes that start at $250, $300 each. So you're getting into a much more expensive system. And you're still possibly going to need some radio transmitters on top of that.
So those are your two options. Going with a manual route that we did. Or going with a more automated route. And either way, you still have to think about these three lights. Key. fill and back light, set them independently and get them all balanced.
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