Since We’re on the Topic of Flash
And why is Sharon giving me that look? Well, because she knows what’s coming, the “before” shot when her gorgeous eyes and bright smile disappear in the inky light. That, and she’s done this a hundred times for me, she’s a trooper (won’t mention how bloody cold it was)! But this first click not only set the stage to talk about the light and its deficiencies, but also the shutter speed I wanted to blur the water in Bridal Veil Creek in the background (1/4 f/6.7).
Applying flash just because you can is as useless as doing HDR just because you can. To me, there must be a purpose, something to communicate to make them useful tools. So what we went through with the group at DLWS in Yosemite was the reason why we needed flash. What’s the main issue with the top photo? The preponderance of blue! Why wouldn’t a reflector work? It would have bounced more blue light into Sharon. Understanding light is why many are scared to use flash so we simply took the logic step by step. The photographic problem is not just the light quantity, but color quality. We needed to “warm” up the light on Sharon which is where flash comes in. The flashes’ 5500k overpowers the 10,000k (used D3’s WB to determine the 10k) of the overall scene and so “warmed” up Sharon (while keeping the snow melt creek blue and cold looking). But what’s wrong with the middle photo? We took care of the color component of the light, but not the feel of the light from a light. You’ve gotta feel light! Looks like a Maglite is shinning in Sharon’s face! That’s because it’s straight, on camera flash.
So we stuck the SB-900 w/81a gel (warm that light up just a tad) in an Ezybox, placed it over the lens and tilted it up to feather the light off the jacket some (light color, didn’t want the eye going to it) and went click!. No compensation dialed in, all in Aperture Priority, all we needed to do is understand the deficiencies in the light and act on that knowledge. Technology did the rest. And for what it’s worth, even though the whole shoot only took 5min, Sharon was blue in the end, it was that cold! Lighting can be that simple, just start with understanding the problem and then solve it. And when you do that, life is good!