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2 light outdoor portraits
  
 
fplstudio
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · 2 light outdoor portraits


Hi folks,

I am looking for advise on 2 light outdoor portraits setup, particularly for the placement of the 2nd light.

I am aiming to light up the dark shadows created by a bare strobe main light at 45 degree by using a second bare flash. Would it be better to place the fill light on camera or off camera opposite to the key? Which is in your experience the best power ratio key/fill that will not create a flat or unnatural image?

Would appreciate your suggestions in both single subject and group of 3-4 configurations.

Thank you
Francesco



Apr 11, 2017 at 03:42 AM
BigIronCruiser
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · 2 light outdoor portraits


There's really no absolute answer to this. You could start with an on-axis fill that's roughly 1 stop less than the main light, and then play around with power and location until you get the "look" you want.

In terms small groups, the main thing is to ensure that one person isn't casting shadows on someone else. Unwanted shadows can be controlled by moving the lights, or by moving the people.



Apr 11, 2017 at 11:28 PM
story_teller
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · 2 light outdoor portraits


If you don't have an idea of what look or mood you want to set, you can't answer the question. If you want some sort of general, one-size fits all lighting for any occasion, set each light at 45 degrees to the subject(s) and up at 45 degrees. Set your fill light at 1.5 stops lower than your key light. You may or may not need a hair light depending on the background. You can also do as BigIron suggests and put the fill on axis at 1 stop lower than the key. Both these approaches will give you a general-purpose portrait lighting that is used by thousands of photographers for thousands of portraits. Maybe that's a good starting point and you can branch out from there.



Edited on Apr 16, 2017 at 11:53 AM · View previous versions



Apr 14, 2017 at 01:55 AM
rico
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · 2 light outdoor portraits


Besides mood, there is a question about the outdoor setting. Is the ambient full sunlight, hazy sunlight, overcast, or nighttime? This will determine the workable poses and the selection of a key. Is the shooting location an open field, near buildings, under tree cover? This will influence the choice of fill, and perhaps the use of a gel. You can learn a lot from fashion mags and high-end catalogs: observe how settings, light and poses are combined to make an attractive image.


Apr 14, 2017 at 02:29 AM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · 2 light outdoor portraits


fplstudio wrote:
Hi folks,

I am aiming to light up the dark shadows created by a bare strobe main light at 45 degree by using a second bare flash.
Thank you
Francesco

One thing you could try before adding a second flash is to tame your key light flash to ambient light ratio. It sounds like the power on your flash is too high, unless you are trying to really darken the background.

Is there a reason you are using your OCF without a modifier? This can help as well.

If you do go with another flash, here are my preferences:

1) All flashes are used with modifiers.
2) The fill flash modifier is larger than the key light modifier. For instance, if I'm using my Westcott Rapid Box as my key, I'll use a 60" umbrella for my fill.
3) The fill light is on axis with the subject's nose, not necessarily on axis with the camera. If it is a group shot, then the fill is on axis with the camera.
4) I keep the lighting ratio slightly lower than I want in the final photo. I then adjust the shadow side to taste using post processing techniques. This gives me greater flexibility.

45/45 is just about the most ugly, unflattering light placement you can use.

Tell us more about subject matter and shooting conditions.




Apr 14, 2017 at 07:08 PM
 

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fplstudio
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · 2 light outdoor portraits


Thank you for the interesting responses. All true, I know that a modifier would create softer shadows and light can be also feathered, also true that with a higher ambient/flash ratio shadows would light up.
I use a softbox whenever I can and for planned shots, most of the time unfortunately no luxury to set it up with little kids they run away and we are often in a hurry.

Going more into the specific below some typical stuff to give you an idea of what I am after. With bare flash the shadows on the cheeks are sort of fine, the one on the nose instead is really unpleasant. So the primary placement of the fill should be to lighten up the latter.

Coming to the examples below in some cases I reckon there is too much ambient underexposure but it was somehow dictated by the backlight sun and bright background. How would you improve all that?









By moving the light closer to camera axis it lights up the shadows but the overall rendering starts to get flat and "flashy"







Apr 16, 2017 at 12:20 PM
ross attix
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · 2 light outdoor portraits


Just a quick reaction. The ratio of flash to ambient is too high. Reducing the flash by a stop or more would make a world of difference. If you are having trouble controlling the bright ambient, need to go to HSS.

You mentioned having to work quickly shooting kids who are constantly on the move. Looking at adding a second light is just going to make that harder. Knock 1 stop off your flash exposure and see what that looks like. Then adjust to your liking from there.

Take a look at this: http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-tutorial/



Apr 16, 2017 at 01:24 PM
kaplah
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · 2 light outdoor portraits


ross attix wrote:
If you are having trouble controlling the bright ambient, need to go to HSS.

Or just narrow the aperture, or add an ND filter, both of which will retain the range of the flash and be easier on batteries and have less overheating.

http://neilvn.com/tangents/using-a-neutral-density-nd-filter-with-flash/




Apr 16, 2017 at 03:08 PM
fplstudio
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · 2 light outdoor portraits


ross attix wrote:
Just a quick reaction. The ratio of flash to ambient is too high. Reducing the flash by a stop or more would make a world of difference. If you are having trouble controlling the bright ambient, need to go to HSS.

You mentioned having to work quickly shooting kids who are constantly on the move. Looking at adding a second light is just going to make that harder. Knock 1 stop off your flash exposure and see what that looks like. Then adjust to your liking from there.

Take a look at this: http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-tutorial/


Not sure if you are suggesting to just lower the flash power or increase the ambient exposure keeping the same flash power. In the first case I would just underexpose the subject but It seems to me that all pics have a correct flash exposure. The second option would instead create a brighter background and at the same time lift the shadows on the subject due to a lower flash/ambient ratio. Or I miss something...
You are maybe right that a second light would add more complications, maybe will give it a try to on camera fill with ETTL and fixed ratio

kaplah wrote:
Or just narrow the aperture, or add an ND filter, both of which will retain the range of the flash and be easier on batteries and have less overheating.


I am shooting outdoor with a strobe (the new AD200 aka EVOLV) so power / overheating should not be a big concern away from the direct sun.
BTW all pics are in HSS, I don't use ND.



Apr 17, 2017 at 02:55 AM
ross attix
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · 2 light outdoor portraits


If you are happy with the background exposures, cut the flash power in half.

You can do that manually on the flash itself, or stopping down the aperture by 1 stop, and then going 1 stop slower on the SS.

Neil's method is what a lot of people do. Without any flash, meter the scene and pick the aperture/shutter speed combo which you want to use. Then power up the flash and adjust its power to one stop under whatever f-stop you have chosen. Then fine tune up or down from there to your taste.

I hate letting the camera decide anything, so I typically stay all manual on my exposure settings, and my flash power.


fplstudio wrote:
Not sure if you are suggesting to just lower the flash power or increase the ambient exposure keeping the same flash power. In the first case I would just underexpose the subject but It seems to me that all pics have a correct flash exposure. The second option would instead create a brighter background and at the same time lift the shadows on the subject due to a lower flash/ambient ratio. Or I miss something...
You are maybe right that a second light would add more complications, maybe will give it a try to on camera fill with ETTL and
...Show more




Apr 17, 2017 at 12:23 PM







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