Flash Overpowering Daylight

Top quality glossy magazines have always had portraits shot outdoors with flash. The relatively low cost and excellent portability of modern battery powered flash units means that this kind of technique is available to all of us.

This portrait of a Police Detective turned Academic was shot in overcast daylight, allowing the background to go just dark enough.

Having sat the subject on the steps of the spectacular building where he works I set the flash up directly in front of him. To get the sky and building as dark as I wanted to I had to simply get the flash at the correct distance, without umbrella but with diffuser cap over the reflector. (more…)


Flash and Blur 1

The most run of the mill jobs are twenty minute location portraits of people who aren’t famous and who really have no idea what being photographed by a professional might entail. This image was shot on a wet day in a dull office in twenty minutes, so how was it done….

The subject must have little or no ambient light on them. The background ambient light must not be even, there must be light and shade, the greater the contrast the more dramatic the image. If you have, or can engineer these factors then you can follow these steps.

1. The subject is lit by flash and the camera is set to daylight balance. The Nash image is 200 asa, and I’ll give the settings for that shot as I go. So – you flashmeter the subject with the light source at about 45 degrees to the camera. In this case the flash reading was f5.6 (pack set to 50 joules). The ambient reading on the subject was two seconds at f5.6. To make sure that no significant amount of ambient light was on the subject’s face the shutter speed had to be at least an eighth of a second (or faster). (more…)


Mixing White Balances

We’ve all seen cross processing and the interesting colours that it gives, but I like to play about with colour temperatures too. Digital allows you to switch from daylight to fluorescent, back to daylight and on to tungsten without having to reload film.

The choirboy was standing inside the chapel where there was a lot less light than outside, where the meter reading was 1/250th of a second at f16 on the 200 asa setting.

1.The camera was set to the tungsten pre-set white balance, and an 85b filter was placed over the Lumedyne flash head with a softener over the reflector. These filters are also called “full CT orange” and you can buy them by the sheet manufactured by companies such as Rosco and Lee Lighting

2. The power was set at maximum with the flash about seven feet away at an angle of 45°. The flash was at an elevation of 30° above the boy’s eyeline. (more…)


More Silhouettes

There are many reasons for using a silhouette, and the most common is to preserve the anonymity of the subject. The identity of children is something we are often asked to keep secret – especially if that child has been in trouble with the authorities.

This is one of those and it concerns some young men being taken on adventure training by Police Officers as a way of keping them out of more trouble.

1. There was no available light, so we had to use torches to focus by and a long exposure to get the head torches to show.

2. The background metered at f16 on the 50 joule setting which gave enough depth of field to have everything in focus. The shutter speed needed to get the torches to give the correct amount of glow was 1/2 second. (more…)