Archive for July, 2010

Mixing Speedlights with Sunlight – A Daisy Experience

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Sometimes you may have a great subject, but the lighting is poor. Usually, the only way of kicking things up a notch or two is to add your own light to the scene to make things sparkle and shine. Take the following image for example. Great daisy, lousy light.

Beautiful chamomile daisy flower. (Stephen Harrison)
Nikon D3s w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR Handheld ISO 200 1/1250th @ f/3.2

However, by simply adding a Nikon SB-600 speedlight (with amber gel) to the left of the flower I can easily reveal depth, texture, and form in an otherwise uninspiring image. Technical note: I set the camera to 1/250th* Focal Plane Sync (FP Flash Mode), to be able to sync flash @ 1/1250th of a second. Normally, I would be limited to 1/250th on most cameras/flashes.

Beautiful chamomile daisy flower. (Stephen Harrison)
Nikon D3s w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR Handheld ISO 200 1/1250th @ f/3.2

A lot of the time beginning users of flash think of flash as simply a way of creating a usuable exposure in an otherwise dark situation. However, think of it as a little sun that you can transport with you and pull out and change the whole look of the image wheather through coloured gels, placement or quality of light. Also, use of the speedlights allow for handheld use of the camera with the flash freezing not only subject motion (the slight movement from wind), but also camera shake/motion.

A similar technique was employed for the creation of these two images. Nikon SB-800 on D3S hotshoe to trigger SB-600 speedlight (camera left mounted to tripod w/ amber gel @ full power zoomed to 85mm) with a second SB-600 flash handheld camera right (w/o gel zoomed to 50mm @ 1/64th power) used to fill in the shadows.

Beautiful chamomile daisy flowers. (Stephen Harrison)
Nikon D3s w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR Handheld ISO 200 1/1250th @ f/3.2 (SB-600 flash camera left @ 1/1 w/ amber gel zoomed to 85mm, SB-600 flash camera right @ 1/64th w/o gel zoomed to 50mm)

Beautiful chamomile daisy flowers. (Stephen Harrison)
Nikon D3s w/ 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR Handheld ISO 200 1/1000th @ f/5 (SB-600 flash camera left @ 1/1 w/ amber gel zoomed to 85mm, SB-600 flash camera right @ 1/64th w/o gel zoomed to 50mm)

So next time you are out photographing, keep in mind its not just about composition and exposure- but consider how the light is falling on the subject- and if you don’t like it- modify it with the use of reflectors (think white sheet of paper) and/or speedlights to kick things up a notch.