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Archive 2012 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....
  
 
Michaelparris
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p.3 #1 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Check out Draper's website. Search for some of his posts in the "people" forum. He is VERY good at mixing ambient and flash. I have learned a bunch from him. He usually uses one flash off camera and a small soft box. Some of his work is composite but none the less his use of the off camera flash is pretty darn good. http://www.draperphotography.com/


Jul 13, 2012 at 02:41 AM
BrianO
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p.3 #2 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Michaelparris wrote:
Check out Draper's website.


I love his shot of the couple on the lifeguard towers. (And anybody who uses Andrea Bocelli's voice on his site gets a thumbs up from me (as long as they aren't violating copyrights).)



Jul 13, 2012 at 02:49 AM
die_kruzen
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p.3 #3 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Yep, makes perfect sense about the angle. I think I just simply had the flash too high. Another question...one thing I am not liking is having to, if needed go to the flash to make any necessary changes. As been mentioned....time is of the essence AND I am finding out just how quickly the sun goes down. Not a lot of time there. Is there something (preferably inexpensive) way that I can control the flash via my camera? Right now I am using PCBs CyberSyncs...and I don't think they allow for that kind of functionality.

I took a look at Draper's site. That is some pretty nice use of light!

Thanks again all,

Pete



Jul 13, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Michaelparris
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p.3 #4 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


PHottix Odins...expensive but worth it


Jul 13, 2012 at 02:40 PM
BrianO
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p.3 #5 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


die_kruzen wrote:
...I am not liking is having to, if needed go to the flash to make any necessary changes. As been mentioned....time is of the essence AND I am finding out just how quickly the sun goes down. Not a lot of time there. Is there something (preferably inexpensive) way that I can control the flash via my camera?


You don't list your gear in your profile, so I'll toss out several options: if you have at least two Canon flashes, one can be mounted on the camera and set in Master mode and pointed at the off-camera flash, which would be set in slave mode.

With older bodies, you'd make changes on the Master flash, and it would send the changes to the Slave flash. On some newer bodies (like the 7D) you can make the changes in the camera's menus, and again the Master flash will transmit the changes.

Another option is that on some bodies (again, the 7D is an example) you can use the pop-up flash as the Master. Outdoors, where there are no bounce surfaces, it can be difficult to get reliable triggering of the Slave, but if the distances are close it can be done.

Yet another option, and one I use frequently, is to connect the off-camera flash to the camera with an ETTL cord. The off-camera flash can be used in Manual or ETTL mode, and as a stand-alone or a Master flash. Here's the one I use:

http://www.flashzebra.com/products/0125/index.shtml

Finally, there are various radio controls, but none are what I would call inexpensive.



Jul 13, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Michaelparris
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p.3 #6 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Line of sight sucks......



Jul 13, 2012 at 08:04 PM
die_kruzen
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p.3 #7 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Hello all, and thanks again for the responses. This is pretty much the equipment I have:

Camera: 5D Mark II
Lenses: various covering ranges from 50-200
Lighting: One 430 EX flash (not the II), one LED continuous light, 270 Flash
Modifiers: Softbox, Beauty Dish
Stand: Tripod and monopod.
CyberSyncs for flash
TTL Cord
Small Reflector

As mentioned...I do have a TTL cord..but if I connect that to my flash/camera I can't control the flash from my camera. It's not nearly as long as the one Brian linked to. I still have to use the flash for the settings. Ideally, I don't want to walk to the flash to set anything. If I can control my 430 from a camera attached 580..that might be the way to go. I thought the Odins would be mentioned...they are a bit pricey.

Pete



Jul 13, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Michaelparris
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p.3 #8 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


The 580 works as a trans....but as I stated line of site set ups SUCK. Some will disagree. Indoors it works better because the signal can bounce around on the walls. Outdoors it pretty much has to be exact, even then you will get misfires at times. Believe me you have all you need. What you are lacking is TRUST...Remember you do not have to leave your camera to adjust flash output. Shoot in manual mode and adjust AMBIENT light via SHUTTER SPEED and FLASH OUTPUT via APERTURE.....Set that 430 in the beauty dish up and get to crackin.....


Jul 14, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Jim Cowsert
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p.3 #9 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Pete,
Here's an example of mine I did on a family vacation last year. I used a MkIV with my 70-200 and on-board 580EX on eTTL. If I had time I would have played around with a gel and the EC. They came out decent since I didn't want to lug around a lot of gear.
Hope this helps...
Jim






And a link to the rest of the gallery: http://www.smugmug.grapevinephoto.com/Family/Orange-Beach/18297499_SgVmJm



Jul 15, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Michaelparris
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p.3 #10 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Jim Cowsert wrote:
Pete,
Here's an example of mine I did on a family vacation last year. I used a MkIV with my 70-200 and on-board 580EX on eTTL. If I had time I would have played around with a gel and the EC. They came out decent since I didn't want to lug around a lot of gear.
Hope this helps...
Jim
http://www.smugmug.grapevinephoto.com/Family/Orange-Beach/i-zmCPdKX/0/M/F3I3965-M.jpg

And a link to the rest of the gallery: http://www.smugmug.grapevinephoto.com/Family/Orange-Beach/18297499_SgVmJm


Nice shot but it also shows why I like to shoot manual...Personally I like to underexpose the BG and add fill to the subjects. In a pinch when your in a hurry TTL is wonderful.



Jul 15, 2012 at 02:46 PM
 

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die_kruzen
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p.3 #11 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Thanks all, yeah - I think Mp hit it on the head….TRUST. I am just starting to experiment with flash (other than bouncing or direct) and I don't have much confidence. But, that is only due to the lack of shooting with off camera flash. I really need to get out more. One thing I have never done…which this thread has prompted me to do is --- gelling the flash. I have really liked the outcome.

Jim, I do like the photo and would agree that the background could be under exposed a bit. However, you do show that direct…if used well -- ain't half bad!

Pete



Jul 16, 2012 at 11:47 PM
warbandit
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p.3 #12 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Jim Cowsert wrote:
Pete,
Here's an example of mine I did on a family vacation last year. I used a MkIV with my 70-200 and on-board 580EX on eTTL. If I had time I would have played around with a gel and the EC. They came out decent since I didn't want to lug around a lot of gear.
Hope this helps...
Jim
http://www.smugmug.grapevinephoto.com/Family/Orange-Beach/i-zmCPdKX/0/M/F3I3965-M.jpg

And a link to the rest of the gallery: http://www.smugmug.grapevinephoto.com/Family/Orange-Beach/18297499_SgVmJm

That's a very good turnout, I'm impressed. Although I have to wonder how you were able to get 1/125, f/4.5, and ISO 200 in direct sunlight AND with fill flash? Turned out great though.

EDIT: nvm, based on the rest of the gallery looks like it was not direct sunlight and more like sunset.



Jul 17, 2012 at 04:04 AM
cgardner
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p.3 #13 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


The shot Jim posted has a cool blue bias in the background typical of what is recorded in open shade or just after the sun goes down with camera WB set to Daylight. Compared to that cooler than normal background the flash lit foreground appears a warmer than normal to the point of the skintones looking orange vs. what I'd consider a normal tanned skintone. That may be due to the fact they were sunburned.

I looked at all the other session shots in his gallery, in particular at the skintones, and see there is a lot of variation shot-to-shot in that same location. While I find the skintones in the shot posted to be a bit orange and oversaturated others in the gallery are less saturated and closer to what I'd consider normal.

I've spent a good bit of time on a similar beach and know what color the sand is. I don't know exactly what the faces looked like that day after a long day in the sun, but I know what I consider "normal". The edit below takes both into consideration and the skintones in some of the other shots in the gallery which are less saturated and more normal looking that the group shot posted. The posted file is shown below the edit for side-by-side comparison:







I copied the original to two layers in PS. For the top "people" layers I applied a hue/saturation correction with - saturation and + brightness in reds to make the faces what I would consider more normal. YMMV in that regard, but using the same technique you could adjust to your taste. In the background I used a #85 warming filter to change the sand to be the color I suspect it actually is without a color bias. I combined the two using a mask on the saturation adjusted layer, resulting in "normalized" less saturated faces and warmer "normalized" sandy beach. I kept the blue sky from the original. The warmed version was probably closer to how it actually looked, but viewers knowing the sky is blue might consider it odd if it's not in the photo because the time of day it was taken isn't obvious as in a shot where the setting sun is seen in the photo.

Warming the beach to its natural color makes the blue bias in the original more obvious. That's one of the reasons to put a gray card in a test shot. When looking at the shot on screen you might not notice the extent of the cool bias. But clicking on the card then reverting back to "as shot" will make it obvious by comparison with the neutral baseline. After seeing the comparison of SOOC and neutral you could move it even warmer then decide from comparison of all three what seems most normal.

I'm left wondering what caused the variation on the faces in the gallery. The only thing that comes to mind is one of the more overlooked facts about the 580ex flash. When it's in the hotshoe with the camera set to flash or AWB some bodies will automatically adjusts WB. It's discussed on p. 47 of the manual. If ether of those modes were used that might account for some of the variation in the WB on the flash lit foreground shot-to-shot in the gallery. Using Daylight or Custom WB will prevent that auto correction feature from creating shot-to-shot variation.

Because I know I can tweek color to taste on the faces in PP in a RAW file when I shoot I'm most concerned with keeping the WB consistent shot-to-shot. My background in printing management makes me process control / baseline oriented so I use a control target test shot to get my bearings during editing when possible.

When shooting RAW frame-to-frame consistency in the WB allows batch adjustment, which is a huge time saver. Having the target in a shot gives me a known baseline to evaluate and adjust from as needed to match the context of the time of day and scene. The adjustments from that test shot can be copy / pasted into the others and I don't need to worry about adjusting the others in the batch taken in the same light. But if the SOOC WB varies shot-to-shot the batch adjustment method isn't possible. That's not a showstopper, its just more work to tweek each file by eye.

We can set and measure overall WB in photo but the intangible variable is human perception. For example take a photo of people around a campfire and orange faces will seem perfectly normal because the source of light is seen. But shoot H&S shot in that light with the same carmera WB and get the same orange skin and it would not seem normal. Why? The close-up doesn't contain the clues about the source of the lighting which explain why the face is orange not neutral on the face. Absent the context clues regarding an other than normal neutral appearance (how the brain adapts to changing color temps) the face in the photo doesn't look "normal". Technically speaking the camera captured it accurately, but the viewer was expecting something else.

So what is "normal"? It's a moving target based on context clues in the background. It's what you'd normally expect to see in person with your constantly adapting color vision given the overall context clues in the scene. With faces the tigher the crop the more there is an expectation of neutral WB. In a situation like the beach you might want to bias the WB on the faces warmer in a wide shot where the setting sun is in the photo than one like this were the time of day isn't as obvious.



Jul 17, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Sid Ceaser
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p.3 #14 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


die_kruzen wrote:
...one thing I am not liking is having to, if needed go to the flash to make any necessary changes. As been mentioned....time is of the essence AND I am finding out just how quickly the sun goes down. Not a lot of time there. Is there something (preferably inexpensive) way that I can control the flash via my camera?



In my experience, when I'm shooting in a situation like the beach at sundown, your aperture isn't going to change once you find proper exposure on your subject. As the sun sets, it's your shutter speed that you'll be messing with to let in the amount of ambient light you want. Your flash exposure is going to remain the same - 1/4 at f/5.6 is always going to be 1/4th at 5.6 if you don't change any variable. So all you need to worry about is your shutter speed, which is controlling the fading sunlight.

The most inexpensive way to control that is the investment of hours needed of practice and knowing your gear, so that when you get to your beach location and the sun is starting to set, you'll know where to start right at set up and you'll only need a few test shots (if any) to get proper exposure.

Cheers,
Sid



Jul 18, 2012 at 08:13 PM
die_kruzen
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p.3 #15 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


First Chuck, I liked what you did with the photo. Seemed to warm it up a bit. Seems like something Brian had pointed out with the gel. Also liked what you did with the skin tones.

Sid -- you raise an interesting (at least to me) question.

Suppose I get the sky right where I want it (shutter and aperture -- maybe not this so much the aperture). If I have the flash setting where I think it should be, take the picture and find out that the subject isn't illuminated to where I want...what do I do? If I change the shutter -- won't that have an impact on the sky? At that point..is it go to the flash and change the settings?

Thanks again all, Pete



Jul 18, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Michaelparris
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p.3 #16 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


When shooting with flash rule of thumb is: Shutter controls ambient light, aperture controls flash output


Jul 19, 2012 at 12:42 AM
BrianO
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p.3 #17 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Michaelparris wrote:
When shooting with flash rule of thumb is: Shutter controls ambient light, aperture controls flash output


I hear this a lot, but in my experience aperture controls both flash and ambient exposure, whereas shutter speed controls only ambient exposure (and motion).



Jul 19, 2012 at 04:26 AM
unknown_photog
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p.3 #18 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


BrianO wrote:
I hear this a lot, but in my experience aperture controls both flash and ambient exposure, whereas shutter speed controls only ambient exposure (and motion).


This has been something that has begun circulating with the strobist movement. McNally and Arias both state it this way for ease of understanding, but what starts happening is that people will not be able to change their thinking from the original description.

Aperture does indeed control Ambient and Flash.

I came up with a chart that helps you understand how all the variables work together and what affects what. Here is the link:

http://unknownphotographer.net/index.php/flash-photography-101/putting-it-all-together

Hope it helps out!



Jul 19, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Sid Ceaser
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p.3 #19 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


die_kruzen wroteSid -- you raise an interesting (at least to me) question.

Suppose I get the sky right where I want it (shutter and aperture -- maybe not this so much the aperture). If I have the flash setting where I think it should be, take the picture and find out that the subject isn't illuminated to where I want...what do I do? If I change the shutter -- won't that have an impact on the sky? At that point..is it go to the flash and change the settings?



Illuminated in what way? Exposure or coverage? If you mean coverage, move the light to get the coverage or result you want. Then take a test shot for exposure. If you mean just exposure doesn't look right, the fastest way is adjust your Aperture. Your Aperture controls your flash exposure. If you take a test shot and your subject is too dark (underexposed) open your Aperture up. If they are overexposed or too bright, stop your Aperture down.

While it's true that Aperture does control both flash exposure and ambient, the first good step in learning how to understand what you are doing is the basic "Aperture controls exposure from flash, Shutter Speed controls ambient". Just start with that. It's easier to understand in basic steps.

If you do a setup, turn on your flash and take a test shot, be mainly concerned with the exposure on the subjects face. That exposure is coming from your flash. Your Aperture controls that. For example, turn your flash on and just leave it at 1/2 power. Learn how to get correct exposure on your subject by only using your Aperture to control that pulse coming from the flash. Learn how to control the amount of that flash pulse you let enter your lens with your Aperture.

Once you learn how to control the flash and ambient, then you can start fine tuning stuff manually in your brain.

Here is a quick visual example:







This isn't at the beach, but it's the same starting point.

Here, in shot 1, I had just turned my light on and got everything set up. My model was just standing there. I simply took a test shot, and quickly found that I was overexposed by about two stops and I needed to stop my aperture down. In shot 2, after stopping down my aperture, I took another shot and saw that my exposure now looked spot-on. I zoomed my lens out a bit, recomposed the image, and took the shot. In my third shot on the memory card I had locked in my first location and was ready to move on. I don't remember specifically what my settings were, but I do remember that my shutter speed was at my sync speed because I wanted the "darkest" background I could get at that Aperture setting, so I could get a nice blue sky with clouds.

Cheers,
Sid



Jul 19, 2012 at 12:49 PM
cgardner
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p.3 #20 · Beach portraits with minimal equipment....


Let's take a step back and look at the problem starting with the goals.

Back in the days of B&W film you didn't need flash because the film could be manipulated to record any scene like you saw it with detail very where.

So why is flash even necessary outdoors when there is lots of light? Because scene contrast exceeds the film/print or sensor's ability to record it as you would normally expect to see it. But in some photographic scenarios, like shooting in open shade or on an overcast day there's so little contrast in the natural modeling that the results look abnormally flat.

So seen in that context what is the goal of the exercise when flash is employed? To try to "normalize" the lighting ratio illuminating the scene overall or at least it's most important focal point such as the face and front of the subject. How the sunlight and flash are used together will dictate whether adding flash decreases the lighting ratio on a face or decreases it.

Scenario 1: Sun as key light

If we choose or are forced to use the sun as key light the ratio between sunny highlights and shaded eye sockets will be 3 stops, an 8:1 incident ratio.

We choose to expose for detail on the cheeks. With camera in M mode we set ambient exposure at 1/200th @ F/11 @ ISO100. That's Sunny 16 adjusted by 1-stop to anticipate the sync limit when flash is added next. The highlights are recorded accurately on the cheeks but the range of the sensor will render the shadows in the 8:1 incident ratio lighting much darker than you want. It's natural light, but it's not flattering natural light.

We add flash to lighten the shadow. But if it's near the axis it hits the entire face including those correctly exposed cheekbones. As the shadows are lifted the highlights are too. How does that change the lighting ratio?

We started with 8:1 in highlight and shadows. If we match the power of the sun with the flash (8 units) as fill this is what happens:

H:S
8:1 Ratio created by sun and skylight
8:8 Even fill matching sun added
===
16:9

The combined ratio is 16:9 or roughly 2:1. That's the same ratio you'd get with key and fill in a studio setting when the key and fill are equal incident strength:

H:S
1:1 Even fill
1:0 Same incident intensity key light
==
2:1 reflected ratio seen and recorded by the camera. Light open shadows.

What happens in the outdoor sun as key light scenario if the flash fill is 1/2 the power if the sun?

H:S
8:1
4:4
===
12:5 = 2.4:1

1/4 the strength of the sun?

H:S
8:1
2:2
===
10:3 = 3.3:1

Exposure must be pegged to the highlights on the cheeks. As more or less flash is added to change the ratio the camera settings, set for correct ambient exposure must be adjusted using aperture or ND filters on lens to compensate for the added flash BECAUSE IT OVERLAPS THE SUNNY HIGHLIGHTS ON THE FACE. The amount of FILL flash added affects the ratio on the face. The more flash, the lower the ratio to the point where flash exceeds the power of the sun and it looks totally flat like an indoor flash on camera shot.

Scenario 2: Sun as rim light

Here the sun is used as hair /accent light. The first decision for exposure is whether or not to let the hair, skin and clothing the sun hits clip or not in the photo. Let's assume the goal is detail so that will require a Sunny 16 exposure, again adjusted to keep shutter at sync speed: 1/200th @ F/11 @ ISO 100.

Taking a shot with ambient only we find the hair and white shirt the subject is wearing is rendered with detail but the shaded face is much too dark. We open the lens to f/4 @ 1/200th and now the cheeks highlighted by the brighter downward skylight are correctly exposed, but looking at the eyes we see the brow shading them. What is creating the shading? The ratio between the brighter downward component of the skylight and the skylight hitting from shallower angles. The skylight isn't "flat" it just has a very low lighting ratio.

Backlight, open shade, and light by a window create similar highlight modeling via the stronger downward component. What differs is the amount of omni-directional fill.

By window light the fill varies depending on how much light bounces off the walls and ceiling and any other windows contributing light. WIth the same size window you'd get darker shadows if the room is painted black than if they are white.

In open shade the amount of fill will vary depending on the surrounding. Anything that blocks the fill from the side will increase the ratio by making the shadows darker relative to the highlight exposure adjusted for accurate detail.

In backlight there tends to be even more fill because the sun that is hitting the back of the subject is also hitting the ground around and in front of them. We'd get lots of more or less neutral fill on a beach, less fill with a greenish bias if the subject is surrounded by grass.

The point is that the natural lighting ratio created by any of those situations isn't a constant. We need to evaluate what the natural light is doing in terms of pattern and ratio on the side shaded from the sun then base the flash strategy around it.

In the case of open shade without any sun hitting the background there's no need for flash to reduce contrast. The range in the shadows will fit the sensor. But the lighting ratio on the face will tend to look flat. So in that scenario we'd want to use flash to INCREASE the lighting ratio on the face. The way to do that is to use the flash not as "fill" as in the first scenario, but as a secondary "key" light.

The primary "key" light in an open shade or back-lit scenario is the modeling created by the skylight on the face. If we look at the face and see the cheeks highlighted but the eyes shaded by the brow darker if we find a higher POV for the camera then have the subject look up at it that will get the natural soft "key" light from the sky in the eyes (assuming you want light in the eyes). Likewise changing the orientation of the face to the sky as we would to model it with a key light in the studio will create the desired pattern on the face naturally. The modeling will be very subtle because the ratio of downward:sideways light is so low, but it will be there. The modeling will be more difficult to see in backlight because there tends to be more bounced fill and your eye sight is affecting by facing into the sun while looking at the face.

Once the face is aligned to the direction of the skylight to create the desired pattern, similar to how we'd do it next to a window the light is flattering in terms of pattern but the ratio may be too low and look to "flat". It's not flat because of the light direction but because of the low lighting ratio of the skylight.

Given that we are not opting to change the amount of natural fill by using flags (i.e., subtractive lighting) we need to increase the ratio by adding more key light with the flash. Where do we need it? In the same place the highlights are being created on the face posed to the skylight. Where do we need to place it? So it hits the face at the same angle as the natural lighting.

Here we have a scenario where we start with a very low ratio on the face and try to increase it:

H:S
1.5:1 Skylight modeling is very low ratio. About 1.5:1
1.5:0 Key flash equal to the natural key light added
====
3:1

We add flash, not overall, but just in the highlights because it is off axis, overlapping the natural highlights from the sky. The flash doesn't hit the sky-lit shadows so they don't change.

The difference between doing that in open shade vs. backlight is:

In open shade, assuming we started with correct ambient exposure on the cheeks, we'd need to adjust ambient exposure to compensate for the flash we add to keep them the same tonal value below clipping. Since the amount of sky fill doesn't change the net effect is that the ratio increases and the shadows wind up looking darker and the lighting on the face more normal, not flatter than normal. Again it's the lighting ratio changing the illusion of flat vs angular with the tone of the shadows.

In backlight we started by pegging exposure at f/11 @ 1/200th to keep the sunlit parts under clipping and start with a face that is modeled nicely by the skylight but is several stops underexposed overall. We don't change the camera settings when adding flash we simply increase the flash power coming from the same direction as the natural sky key lighting until the shaded side of the white shirt looks perceptually correct—not an exact match to the sunny parts which still retain detail (Zone 9), but a "zone" darker (Zone 8) in Zone System parlance.

It sounds very complicated but in practice it's a no-brainer if you use the camera clipping warning:

1) Set shutter to sync speed. Adjust aperture until sunlit highlights are 1/3 stop below clipping (assuming you want detail in them when you convert the RAW file to JPG).

2) Turn on the flash. Raise it's power until you see the flash start to clip the shaded front side of the same objects. Lower flash by 2/3 stops. It's just as easy to do this with flash in M mode as it is in ETTL. You wind up moving the same dial the same number of clicks. The differences is that in M mode once set the flash exposure will not vary if the subject changes pose and reflects light differently.

The result? A full range of detail with balance of sun and flash that looks natural. The modeling on the face is made to look natural by first posing the face up into the skylight as with any key light, then adding the flash at the same angle:







That's a single flash shot with flash and DIY diffuser on a bracket. My wife was standing below me on a river bank looking up which got the natural light into the eyes and allowed me to match that angle with angle of the flash to blend the two as seamlessly and transparently as possible.

The fill for the shadows came entirely from the skylight hitting from the sides and from the light bouncing up from the white jacket. Had she been wearing a black jacket the shadows would have been darker. The shadows are dark where both skylight and flash were shaded, such as under the chin but that occurs naturally outdoors because the light nearly always has a downward key component.

When I want to control the lighting ratio and get lighter shadows than the skylight alone will produce I add a second flash for fill just as I would indoors in a dark room. For full face shots I stack the flashes vertically:







The higher flash on my bracket becomes acts as secondary "key" light as in the single flash shot above, with the second slave placed lower adding supplemental flat fill as in the sun as key light scenario or and indoor key/fill centered scenario to control the lighting ratio and create lighter shadows. I used that scenario for these action shots of a neighbor's kid using the afternoon sun as backlight and shooting from a ladder to surround her with the grass (shot in the front yard):












I'll use the same dual flash centered scenario with sun as backlight for group shots, again shooting from a ladder to get the faces and eyes up into the skylight, adding my "key" flash to the faces from the flash on bracket above the camera, and then placing my slave fill about chin level with the subjects in front of me to control the ratio and keep the shadows on the face lighter and more flattering than the sky fill alone does in a single flash shot.

The goal in all the scenarios? In essence it distills down to changing the range of the scene via lighting ratio to match the DR of the sensor and allow it to record the same amount of detail, everywhere in the foreground, that you'd expect to see if standing there looking at the same scene in person. That's what makes a photo seem "normal" or not.

Indoors its a matter of using key and fill flashes to control the ratio.

Outdoors its a matter of how the sun is used. Using the sun as key light on the face requires different placement and exposure strategies that when the sun is kept out of the shot entirely (open shade) or used as backlight.

Indoors and out environmental variables affect the amount of fill. Indoors with flash it varies depending on how much light the flashes spill onto walls and ceiling and how reflective those surfaces are. Much of the "wrap" effect seen with big modifiers used in small rooms comes from the spill fill. Take the same lights outdoors at night and duplicate the same set-up and there will be darker "harder" looking shadow because there is no spill fill.

Outdoors during the day the sun and skylight hit and bounce off the environment around the subject affect the lighting ratio on the subject before any flash is added.

Outdoor lighting so situational it's impossible to reduce the techniques needed into a single all encompassing generalization. Start by grasping the goal of the exercise — fitting range of scene to sensor range to "normalize" it's appearance — and learn what different flash techniques are needed achieve that goal in different situations based around how the sun is used.

You might not always want to match the sensor range, or be able to do it, but learning how to do it better equips you skill-wise to deal with those other situations.




Jul 19, 2012 at 03:06 PM
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