Sunday, March 11, 2012

Snow Angel!

Snow Angel

Winter in my neck of the woods this year was a little less than ordinary.  We really only had one or two days with snow, and even then it was just a light dusting... which is highly unusual for this area.  So, since Spring is officially right around the corner for us, I thought I'd share the only 'snow portrait' I took this season.

I absolutely love shooting flash lit portraits balanced with ambient light, so when I saw how nice our backyard looked with the first real snow, I decided to take a quick portrait of our resident snow angel Lexi (well, she can be an angel at least some of the time. ;)

The first thing I did to get this portrait was to find a background that wasn't too distracting but still showed some of the new snow.  So fortunately, a view from our back deck did the trick.  Then I simply set my shutter speed to its fastest flash sync speed (1/250 sec) then dialed in my aperture til the scene looked the way I wanted.  (FYI, I had my ISO set to L 1.0 which is my camera's lowest ISO) Typically, I will "zero" out the scene first using my D300's built-in light meter, then I usually drop that exposure by another stop or two, simply by closing my aperture down ....its totally a preference thing.  In this particular portrait, I think I only dropped the exposure by one stop to just create a little more contrast in the sky.

Once I had my ambient exposure locked in where I wanted it, it was time to bring in my light.  I used one of the new Westcott Apollo strip boxes with a Nikon SB-800 to light this portrait.  So why did I decide on using a strip box?  Because I already had it set up with a flash in it :), but also, because I knew that this strip box, relative to my subject, would create a nice soft and somewhat wrapping light.  Lexi is still quite petite so this softbox in relation to her appeared to be a slightly large light source.

I triggered my flash with a set of radio triggers (I use Cybersyncs) because since the flash is enclosed in the softbox and we were outdoors, I had the feeling that my trusty, built-in, Nikon CLS system would not work in this instance because it requires line of sight from the triggering flash to the receiving flash.  So I dialed in my flash at (I think) 1/4 power and took a test shot of my trusty stand-in model... (see below)

This gave me a good enough guess on how my light was going to look on my subject, so all I had to do was bring her out, and snap a quick portrait.  I rely on my hand a lot when I'm shooting wide because the exposure on it, will be very similar to the exposure on just about any person I throw in front of the lens, although sometimes I still may have to make a minor adjustment.  The whole point of doing this, is to have everything set up and ready to go, so that I only need my model to stand in for just a few minutes to get the shot.

So you can see this is a pretty quick and easy method for creating flash and ambient balanced portraits with not a lot of work to get you there.  Taking this portrait took about 10 minutes from setup to snapping the last portrait.  I hope this seems like a pretty straight forward process, but if anyone has any questions, just sound off in the comments!

See you next time!

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