Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Flash Bus Portrait

Rudy and the Flash Bus

One of the reasons I like using flash and/or strobe is because of the contrast and control it gives me.  Sometimes I will shoot using ambient light only, but most of the time I find I can make the image much more interesting by adding light and balancing with the available ambient light.

A few friends and I attended the Flash Bus Tour in Nashville back in April and a couple of us wanted our portraits taken in front of the Flash Bus.  So after we located it and tried to find the best angle to photograph from, I took a quick ambient light only shot first, thinking who knows, maybe it will turn out nice (I wasn't really thinking that).  This is the shot below...

Pretty blah and boring huh?  Well, except of course for my model with his extraordinarily good looks.  However for the overall exposure, I thought we could do better.

So I dropped the ambient exposure by a stop or two, simply by speeding up my shutter speed.  I kept the aperture and ISO the same as the previous image because I didn't want the depth of field to change or the overall quality of the image.

After dropping the ambient a stop or two, it was time to light my buddy.  I took out a trusty Nikon SB-800 and put a Lumiquest SBIII on it so that it would be a little diffused and simply left it in TTL.  I decided that since we were attending the Flash Bus Tour that I would have to use flash (actually I just didn't want McNally or Hobby jumping off the bus and attacking us) and that I would leave the flash power in TTL a-la-McNally just to see how it went.  I was hand holding this light and directing it as best I could while I tried to keep the composition where I wanted it.

You can see in the photo below, that the sky looks much better and my buddy is lit sufficiently, but now the bus is dark and you can't really make out what it says.

No worries though, as I was packing not one, but two Nikon SB-800s!  So I took the other one out of the bag, zoomed the head to around 50 mm and placed it on the ground behind my subject, pointing up at the center of the bus.  I tried to be cautious in my placement of this light because I didn't want it to show in the photo and wanted to make sure that it lit the bus well enough to see the logo and design.  I also left this flash's power in TTL but put it in a different group, just in case I needed a different power level than my key light.  Both of these strobes were triggered with the pop-up flash on my D300 using Nikon's CLS system.

As luck would have it, my Nikon's built in metering/TTL system did a nice job determining flash output and no compensation was needed on either light.  So this portrait was a straight TTL solution with my aperture, shutter speed and ISO dialed in manually...

I actually cropped in on this a little bit as I thought it made a better composition.  This portrait is the same as the one at the top of the page, I placed it down here so you wouldn't have to scroll back up for reference.

I realize that this portrait is not Pulitzer material, but for a quick setup and shoot (took about 5-10 mins total) I feel this shot turned out much better than the ambient light only version, and its definitely better than an on camera flash snapshot imo ...of course I probably should've Photoshopped out the electrical tower and power lines, but it was just a quick portrait anyways. :)

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