Advanced Technique & Process 2A: Using a Speed lite to create studio style lighting

17th October 2014

I used:
Canon 5D mk iii
Nikon D7100 (with 11-16mm lens)
Light stand
Phottix wireless triggers
430EX ii Speed lite
White umbrella to diffuse the light
Flash bracket
Light meter

The aim of this activity was to test out a speed lite and it’s abilities as the main light source, in a reasonably simple set up, to achieve some rather interesting images and problem solve to find the best position/aperture/shutter speed that worked for each image.
At first I photographed my subject with the light slightly off to the right hand side of the model, using the white umbrella as a slight diffuser. I took a reading with the light meter and shot using the flash at 1/2 power, got f5.6. So I took some shots with different poses to let the light hit different parts of the face.


^ All shot at 1/64 sec, f5.6, ISO 100 ^

These images were slightly bright when I put them on the computer because I think the screen on the back of my camera is slightly darker/more contrasted. So maybe going a stop darker would have worked better for these images (they have been darkened slightly in Photoshop).

Next – Exploring different locations and areas with different ambient light readings, and testing a range of shutter speeds to gain the correct exposure. Not only to gain the correct exposure, but to create a certain type of light on the subject.

Our set up:


^ My colleague shooting


^ 1/64 sec, f5.6, ISO 100.   ^ 1/4 sec, f5.6, ISO 100.


^ 1/10 sec, f5.6, ISO 100.  ^ 1/200 sec, f5.6, ISO 100.

^ As you can see here, each different shutter speed creates a different aesthetic – a different look that could be related with different types/genres of photography. For example 1/200 sec creates a more moody, shaded look. It casts a dark shadow behind the subject and on the subject e.g at the side of the face closest to the wall. Then we have the 1/4 sec and this creates a high key, commercial studio style portrait. I personally prefer the more contrasted and shaded shots, because of the atmosphere they create. On the day the sky was cloudy yet sunny so we had staggered sunlight coming in from the window on the left of/slightly above the model. This will have been let in more with the slower shutter speeds, and definitely effects the aesthetic of the shot as a result.

Here I used the Nikon D7100 and tried different shutter speeds to see how the aesthetic changed depending on the length of the exposure.

^ As you can see if the shutter speed is too fast for the flash (image 1) the image will be a picture of the shutter not fully opened quick enough. In the first 6 images I adjusted the shutter speed each time and shot. The difference in aesthetic is evident between each shot! At the time I preferred the 1/200 sec because of the contrast and ‘shady’ nature of the image as it brought drama – and I took a few more shots with the subject, at these settings. I then moved the light a bit closer to add even harsher shadows e.g under the models chin (as the lighting was from above, central) took a reading, and adjusted the settings as such once again. However looking back I think the 1/10 sec works better because the natural day light and flash have balanced each other out creating a ‘glow’ like aesthetic.





^ These were all shot at the same settings – 1/64 sec, f5.6, ISO 100. However the light was moved after the first shot and as you can see it makes all the difference, because the first shot appears harsher and the light is channelled into one direct spot more (the white wall). However just by moving the light a slight bit to the left, the aesthetic has changed. Also the ‘zoom’ on the flash gun may have been adjusted between the first shot and the latter two. This will have had an affect because e.g 24mm zoom on the flash creates a wider dispersement of flash (to fill the wide angle being shot) then e.g 70mm on the flash creates a more channelled and focussed flash into one area.

I want to experiment more with this technique of getting creative with a speed lite and an umberella to diffuse the light. I understand how it works but I want to create ‘better’ shots using this technique rather than just ‘test’ shots.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: