I get a real kick from being able to make use of ‘Off Camera’ Lighting to create a certain look and feel to an image but that being said I do still like to make use of the natural / ambient light that surrounds us.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of using just one light but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ‘one light’ has to be a flash. Part 2 of the recent photo shoot with Cameron saw us in a different location; this time a stairwell which leads to some flats above shops. Granted it’s not the most luxurious or interesting of locations but when it comes to the light available it’s a gift.
Getting Cameron to go inside the recess and sit down on the steps meant that the light hitting him was doing so from one direction as opposed to him standing outside in the open where light would be coming from all around. In effect the opening had turned into a giant softbox.
When I’m shooting using the natural/ambient light I generally take my camera out of it’s usual home of Manual and put it into Aperture Priority and I’ll then go for a wide aperture; something around the f/2.8 – f/4.0 mark. Once I’ve set my ISO which for this particular location ended up being around ISO 800, I’ll then make minor adjustments using + / – Exposure Compensation to get the desired look that I’m after.
Here are a couple of other examples using natural light from previous photo shoots:
For the photograph above, I also used a California Sunbounce Mini to punch a little more light onto the subjects face. These reflectors are a touch more expensive than the usual but the light quality that they reflect is superb. The back/hair light was provided by the opening at the top of the stairwell that you can see in the left hand side photograph.
This photograph of model, Danny Bartlett was taken under an archway in Windsor, again using natural light. Danny was positioned about 12ft back under the archway with his body angled slightly away from the opening. This meant that the natural light coming in didn’t hit him ‘full on’ but allowed for some shadows on his face and so adding alot more depth and dimension.
With regards to the photo shoot with Cameron, always looking to make the most of a location before moving on I did then bring out some ‘off camera’ lighting.
For this shot I used a single Nikon SB800 Speedlight fired into a 60″ Reflective Umbrella with Cameron facing directly towards it. To restrict how much light fell onto Cameron and onto the surrounding walls, I used a trusty clothes peg to hold the umbrella just slightly open. (I talk more about this ‘closed down umbrella’ technique in my ‘Invisible Black Backdrop Tutorial’)
This final image of Cameron was made using a single Nikon SB800 Speedlight positioned high up on a light stand close into the brick wall; zoomed to 105mm and fitted with a Honl Speed Grid to give more control and direction as to where the light fell.
Extra ‘dead space’ to the right of the picture was added later in the editing phase using my ‘Extending the Background of a Photography‘ technique in Photoshop.
So as a photographer what do you find yourself using the most? Off camera flash or the natural/ambient light?
Look in any photography magazine and you’ll see article after article about using 4 or even 5 lights to produce a certain look. That’s all well and good but how about promoting the use of natural light or just one ‘off camera’ light and seeing what can be done?
I’d love to hear to ‘hear’ your thoughts / comments and if there’s anything you want to ask or say about this post please feel free to use the comments section below.