15 Oct 2010

A Quick Single Light Portrait (Ode to Manual Mode)

Speedlighting Blog No Comments

I ran a  strobist lighting class with a couple of great photographers, Anna and Kevin last Saturday one of whom is already working weddings professionally. We were looking at what small off camera flash could bring to Anna’s offer and they were pretty quick learners so I have no doubt that we will see the results on her website soon. What occurred to me though is what a simple set up a single light shot through a white umbrella from top right (or left) can be. I didn’t really take any shots as I let the students do the work – nifty eh?  – well I shot 4 to get the exposure and this is the 4th.

Pretty neat really – not spectacular but what a simple set up – it was a pretty terrible day with dull cloud overhead. One of the things I try to communicate to people learning small flash is KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.  From memory this was 1/125th second at f5.6  with a speedlite 1/2 power (1/4 CTO gel) shot through an umbrella on a Manfrotto Nanostand triggered by a Pocketwizard.

First I got a measure for the ambient by shooting a frame on program, chimp the back to see what the light is doing. Dial that into the camera in Manual. Next question – how is the background looking – too light? competing for the viewers eye? OK down a stop on the shutter speed so 1/60th to 1/125th – have another look – background is darker. Now for the subject – the ambient was f5.6 at 1/60th so I am going to chance it with my flash at 1/2 power about 1.5m away from him – a little bright – reduce the light by moving the speedlite further back a touch and bingo. Four frames to get to pretty much where I want to be.

I love the simplicity of manual. At first it seems so daunting but believe me when you are in manual you take control of everything. The trouble with TTL is that you are never quite sure which part of the process the camera is messing with so its not so easy to correct mistakes.

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