I’ve been hitting up the benefits of using artificial light to enhance a naturally lit portrait, and using flash exclusively to create something entirely new. I’ve also been experimenting with the effects one can create by taking the flash off the camera entirely and triggering it remotely. The results you can create are often quite striking.
I’m a big fan of using a single key light to create mood and atmosphere in the shadows. I’ve found a single Speedlite flash can procure some interesting scenes, as light generally falls only on the highlights. In the shot of Spidey above I used a single Speedlite (Canon 430EXII) positioned slightly the left of the camera, on the floor. I set up the camera directly in front of where I would be and opened the lens up to a 16mm focal length. The hardest part was actually positioning myself!
Settings: f/6.3, 1/200, ISO 100. Flash power 1/4.
In the shot above I played around with rear curtain sync and long exposures. While I still encountered a problem with ‘ghosting’ I was able to expose both a night-time background and my girlfriend, who rode her hipster pushbike, in the foreground. The flash firing at the end of the exposure froze her in the frame but left the cool light trails of her bike’s lights following her movements.
Settings: f/5.6, 2.5 sec, ISO 320, flash power +1/3, 28mm focal length
Another technique I tried was to use the setting sun as a backlight to add some nice golden colours to my friend Hayden’s hair. The slight breeze waved her hair around a bit which made it look a bit more dramatic. No complaints here!
I used the the flash to add fill light to her face so the background didn’t blow out into searing whites.
Settings: f/3.2, 1/200, ISO 100, 35mm focal length
The last flash technique I played with was high-speed sync which allowed me to shoot a correctly exposed, balanced scene in conditions not normally favourable for photography.
I placed my girlfriend Kira in the middle of an open area, with the sun almost directly behind her. Without a flash I would probably have to choose between a well exposed background and a dim subject, or a well exposed subject and a blown out background. With the high speed sync I could set my shutter speed high enough to expose for the background and the flash would illuminate Kira’s face.
Settings: f/3.5, 1/1000, ISO 100, focal length 25mm.