SETUP-16: BALANCING AVAILABLE LIGHT
Some time ago, we did one of the glorious ON-CAMERA-FLASH-WORKSHOPS in Düsseldorf in the Studio of Michael Quack. One of the setups we did there is sooooooo great, that I do have to show it to you! It is all about one ON-CAMERA-FLASH and a cheap and simple umbrella. But let’s take a view at the final image first!!!
What kind of gear we used has already been said. One Canon 580 EX II, a wireless trigger and a simple umbrella. And here you go with the visual prove!!! :-)
Whenever working with on-camera-flashes we have to state clearly the mode we are working with. There is the TTL-automatic and such a flash can also be fired in total manuell mode. In M-mode, you do select you flash power individually. You can see that we are using a radio reciever underneath the flash unit.
You can clearly see the whole setup on the images. It’s all about a big big cool window, a beautiful model on some stairs and our beloved flashunit! :-) And then you should look at the setup on another scale… Every photo is made of several layers. Layers of light.
- The sunlight and the window which is lit by the sun.
- The position of the model.
- The surrounding light from the window on the model
- The strobe!!!! :-)
Very important at this state is to have a look at the scene in a abstract way. Without seeing the studio, only having a look at the system. Sunlight, window, curtain, umbrella, flash.
The drawing shows the setup very clearly. Light from the back and a flash from the front onto the model. We don’t even have to think about it, to know that we can only control one light. We can’t control the sunlight. We cannot make it brighter as it already is. So everything comes back onto the sunlight. We first setup our photo in respect to the sunlight and than we add the needed flashlight to light up the scene. That’s it.
And this is the most important thing when working with daylight. The BALANCING!!! Too much flashpower makes the photo a “non-natural-flash-photo”…. not enough flash could make the photo underexposed… too much sunlight would overexpose the complete background…
It is not the way you form the light, it doesn’t matter if you are using an umbrella or a softbox… when you set the balance correctly… everything is fine!!!
By the way… why are there curtains? Very simple, we have to create a very big difference between the light “in” the window and the light in the room. This way, we have the chance to set the light individually. If there was to much light in the room, the light would already be defined. No chance to set a flash where there is already light!
Let’s go through the creation of the photo… step by step. With this, we can show you how important the correct balancing is.
1. This photo was exposed correctly onto the bright areas on the chest of the model. As you can see, the lights from the back are not overexposed. For us, the photo is underexposed, there is no real character in that photo.
2. The second step was to overexpose the photo. Overexposure relativ to the bright areas on the model. As we see clearly, the face is still underexposed because there is no light other than the reflecting light from the window. This photo already looks cool… That’s our basic photo!
3. Next step was to switch on the flash. So we did but we also set the flashpower to a correct level of exposure on the face. And the result was AWEFULL!!!! No more “character” within the photo. The flashlight is to bright and leaves no space for the sunlight. The model also turned away from the window tooooooooo much.
4. The reason for the “awefull” photo was the “correct exposure” of the flash. Correct is not always best. The flash destroyed the total balance between flashlight and sunlight. SOLUTION???? Very simple, if the power of the flash is too high, we just turn the power down!
And voila!!!! That’s our photo!
5. With the right position of Rahel in between of the curtains, we create the highlights on the dress and the chest, but we also do have the chance to set our light as we want. Because of the curtains, we can use the light from the window without having tooooo much light around our model.
It is the exact power of the two lightsources defining the look of our photo.
RESUME!!! There can only be one defining lightsource in one photo. Every other lightsource has to be additional. If do not balance your light properly… one light will destroy the look of the other light, ending up in a total mess => CRAPPY PHOTOS!
Ok, what else is important to know???
- It happens very often that the location you like is not perfect at all. Take a look at the photos above. We had to get our model up to the height of the window to be able to shoot. That’s normal for us! So start looking at locations and try to find potential!
- We do know photographers who never ever take photos at ISO400 oder 800. Too much digital “grain”…. bulls..t nowadays. Modern cameras are so good, that you can take photos up to ISO1600 having no problems at all. Yes, it is not the same as ISo100 but a good photo still is a good photo, even at ISO800.
- You can see you image on the display of your camera. Stop looking at the MICRODETAILS of a photo, start looking a the overall image! The complete photo and not only a part of it.
That’s it for today… have a nice day, go out and make beautiful photos!